After what seemed like an eternity (it’s been a decade!), Nelly Cootalot is finally on mobile.We may never see Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! in the palm of our hands, but its sequel — Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet — is available now as a premium app for both iOS and Android. It’s an absolute bargain as well. The mobile experience is essentially the same as the earlier PC/Mac/Linux version, and seems aimed at helping Nelly Cootalot reach both a larger general audience and a new generation of gamers for whom mobile is their home.
For those unfamiliar with the Nelly Cootalot universe, Nelly is a young pirate committed to using her charm, wits and skill to protect birdlife from the dastardly and aptly named Baron Widebeard. Having previously rescued a fleet of endangered spoonbeaks, she’s now charged with rescuing even more birds who have been captured and hypnotised by the evil Baron Widebeard. Along the way she interacts with a host of colorful characters including literal wingman Sebastian, a small blue coot, ghostly mentor William Bloodbeard, and a group of disgraced toffs forced to run for the common man’s entertainment.
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a game that embodies all of the qualities of a fantastic family film but with the opportunity to be an active and vital participant in the experience. Its storyline is simple and engaging enough to keep young ones entertained, and there are plenty of jokes in the dialogue just for the adults. In this regard, the talents of developer Alasdair Beckett-King, a well-respected comedian and actor outside the games world, really shine through. In pulling off his vision, he’s assisted by a great group of actors, including Tom Baker (Doctor Who!) as Sebastian and Andrew Secombe (Star Wars Episodes I & II) as Dr Periwig.
The gameplay itself is nothing remarkably unique. The Fowl Fleet is a straightforward three-part adventure that has you solving puzzles and navigating people and obstacles. Still, it isn’t the complexity of the gameplay, but the endearing and cheeky humor that make the Nelly Cootalot games so very much worth playing.
Visually, the game is gorgeous. The high-definition animation lends the game both a warmth and presence that make it easy to fall in love with the universe the game creates. While porting the game from Adventure Game Studio to Unity was likely a major challenge, kicking up the graphics a notch in clarity and complexity is an investment that pays off handsomely.
One word of warning is that if you’re new to the Nelly Cootalot universe, it can take a little bit of time and a bigger helping of patience to get used to the trial and error nature of exploring her world. Figuring out how to get to Port Rubicon is enough of a challenge right out of the gate. For frequent adventure game players, thinking in the way the game demands will likely come easy and is part of the fun. For those who find themselves on less familiar terrain, there’s absolutely no shame in taking the time to watch or read a walkthrough after a few failed attempts to go it alone. Eventually, the frustration will move from the bad kind to the good kind. Besides, where else are you going to encounter toff races? Nowhere. They don’t exist in real life (very unfortunately).
On top of all of the positives of this game, it’s also worth celebrating Nelly Cootlot: The Fowl Fleet for putting a smart, witty, tough, skillful young woman in the role of a protagonist of an adventure game designed to appeal to everyone, not just girls and women. It may be 2017, but that’s still a rare feat. When filmmakers who have chosen to make women heroes have faced tremendous backlash, as have their actors, it’s a courageous one too.
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a game where all of the parts, solid on their own, come together in a magical way. Whether you’re young or old, a fan of adventure games or not, despise pirates or love them, it is worth giving the high seas a try at least. There is a chance Nelly Cootalot might not be for you, but even if you enjoy the simple pleasure of laughing it’s a small chance indeed.