Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet (Switch) Review
Release Date: July 11, 2019
Publisher/Developer: ASHGAMES/Alasdair Beckett-King
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Steam
The point-and-click genre is a niche lovingly filled with oddball storylines in an attempt to pull us back to the days of Monkey Island. Comedy is hard in a video game. The interactions between characters and quirky puzzle solutions have to be perfectly balanced to be ludicrous enough to evoke laughter but not obtuse to the point that gamers will get frustrated. Nelly Cootalot is a two-part series that originated in 2007 as a cute little birthday present from developer to spouse that “got out of hand” and became a full PC release. The Fowl Fleet was released in 2016 and hit PC. The series has migrated to mobile devices, but now the second in the series finds itself on Nintendo Switch.
Nelly is a beautiful little game, with hand-drawn environments and polygonal characters with some of the best cel-shading I’ve ever seen to evoke a real cartoon feel. Many have tried, but I really felt Nelly and company to appear like cartoon drawings. Nelly is a pirate, adventurer, and bird lover. This combination lends handily to the storyline, wherein the evil Captain Widebeard looks to control birds to do his bidding. It’s up to Nelly and her gumption to track down Widebeard and stop his nefarious scheme.
The Switch provides one of the best places to get Nelly’s story thanks to the full use of the Switch’s special features. You can dynamically swap between touchscreen and button controls. While I find the touchscreen more natural, it is nice to have options so you can play the game on the big screen. Nelly has a simple inventory that you can mix and experiment with to your heart’s content.
Puzzles are cute and fun. I wouldn’t call them terribly obvious, but at least most of the puzzle pieces are within one or two scenes from each other for the most part, and Nelly has a quip to make an item stand out if you may need to come back later. The game is voiced in English and German, with a few celebrities mixed in like Dr. Who’s Tom Baker. With great dialogue, beautiful art, and wonderful music, Nelly Cootalot is a joy to play.
My confusion comes in the release itself. A lot of older games are coming to Switch, and that’s not a bad thing. Yet, while I’ve never played the port I can say that this game is available on mobile devices for $2.99, while Steam and Switch offer it for $19.99. If you want the straight story, there is a far cheaper way to play. An HD-ified version of the first game is also on Steam for a whopping $2, and there’s even a bundle to buy. The first game may not be completely integral to play the second, but given that there is an active way to play the entire series for $5 I find it odd that they didn’t just port the two-pack over.
As an individual release on the Switch with no history, Nelly is worth the price of admission. The game is reasonably lengthy, well-designed, and fully takes advantage of it’s platform. Had I not researched the history and ways to access the game, I’d likely not have any complaints. You won’t be disappointed if you are a point-and-click fan with Steam or Switch as your sole way to access these games. Even those with access to a mobile version may find the control option choices and chance for big-screen worth the extra cost.
-Hilarious tale, well written and wonderfully voiced
-Puzzles that are just right to evoke humor and “aha” moments without frustration
-Nelly is a wonderful combination of dimwitted and snark, and an excellent protagonist
-Some of the best cel-shading I’ve seen to really evoke a 2D style in a 3D environment
-Why the large price jump from mobile? I can’t find any reasoning why this is $20 here now other than basic control options and some graphical clean up for big screens (note, fun and worth price of entry)
-As a story based sequel to a game with a fairly recent HD remaster, why isn’t Switch getting the first game?
Special thanks to ASHGAMES and Mr. Alasdair Beckett-King for providing a download of this excellent adventure for review!