Her Majesty’s SPIFFING Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Billy Goat Entertainment
Publisher: Billy Goat Entertainment
Release Date: February 1st 2018
Price as of Article: $9.99 USD, £9.99 GBP
While 3D point and click adventure games aren’t the most common of genres these days, they do still have a decent presence in modern days mostly through Telltale’s episodic series’. I suppose point and click is an archaic term since there’s very little of that action going on and a more apt name maybe graphic adventure, a game focused mostly on story and characters rather than being all action. Billy Goat Entertainment’s debut game, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is very much in that pigeonhole.
*This review was authored by Jordan Humphries from www.switchwatch.co.uk
Her Majesty’s SPIFFING presents a very unique story, something you’d expect with a name like that. Due to a political shift in 2016, a frustrated Queen decides to take things in to her own hands and attempts to raise the British Empire once more. This time in Space! After the initial cutscene of the Queen launching your shuttle into space via Big Ben, the story truly begins in the cockpit of their HMS Imperialise as Captain English and Lieutenant Jones, two very stereotypical characters, set off to claim the galaxy for Queen and country.
As an adventure game, it’s actually the story where these type of games live and die. Since gameplay is generally limited to puzzles, it’s all about the if the story is intriguing enough to keep you invested, if the characters are interesting or funny enough. The story is the heart and soul of an adventure game.
For what it’s worth Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is pretty good. Sure the story is just a bit of fluff but it’s a means to get the characters interacting and making you laugh. This game is definitely a comedy game first and foremost as you may have guessed from the premise. It’s very rare that a game can make me chuckle by its writing alone, but Her Majesty’s SPIFFING succeeded pretty quickly and consistently. Not exactly huge belly laugh moments but lines, situations and references that really struck a chord with my humour. I actually found the writing to be top quality overall. The main character, Captain English, is excellently written as are most of the small supporting cast. It’s one of the wittiest games I’ve played in a while along with the likes of Monkey Island and Broken Sword. At times it does rely heavily on breaking the fourth wall, but it does so so often that I actually liked it. It’s not just a one off gag you find in a game that breaks the fourth wall and feels awkward, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is just full-on. There may also be the point that much of the humour may only land with a British audience. I’m not sure how Americans or Canadians, for example, will react to the very English humour and references, never mind non-native speakers who may just end up confused. I’m pretty sure this is primarily for British audiences and those who have found a taste for our humour.
I found the story to be completely engaging throughout thanks to the characters alone. I always wanted to see or hear what the next ridiculous thing was. Sure, you’re not going to be emotionally attached or anything but you’re definitely going to have a good time if you’re into British humour.
Following on from the story, the audio plays a big part in what makes this a charming experience. While the music is pretty fine it’s the voice acting which is really above standards. The two protagonists, especially Captain English (again) are excellently delivered with professional voice actors. They may be somewhat stereotypical but are very funny and likeable.
Visuals & Performance
Visually I think it’s pretty alright for an indie game, especially of the 3D adventure variety. It looks just as good as any Telltale adventure game, and they’re a huge company these days with a large budget. Character models are solid, although definitely on the more cartoony side of things rather than realistic, which is good because it adds to the overall humour of the game. I really like the animation too, I know the heads behind the game have a lot of pedigree in this department from before their game developing days. Facial animation, while obviously cartoony, is used to rather decent comedic effect.
Performance wise it was pretty solid when docked although in handheld mode I wasn’t entirely convinced it was at a stable frame rate. There was no stuttering or anything but it just felt lower than average. I’m not an expert in this department but it was definitely not quite as silky smooth as I would have liked. It’s still playable though, not a major problem for me.
All things considered, for a small indie game, it’s actually very well presented. The story, the visuals and the audio are all top notch from what you’d expect. It really excelled above my original expectations of the game. I know many of you care about the gameplay too, which is fair enough. Although I would pigeonhole Her Majesty’s SPIFFING as a 3D point and click adventure game, it takes the modern style of controlling your character with the analogue stick rather than there being any pointing and clicking going on. At the beginning you’re left exploring and performing tasks onboard your compact little space shuttle. At first you’re given a menial task of making tea in order to come to terms with the controls and concepts of an adventure game if you’re not already accustomed to them.
It’s actually very simple. You have an inventory which can be accessed with X. You can view, equip or combine items you’ve already picked up. Interacting with objects around the environments is done by holding A and then using the analogue stick to choose one of the four options available on the command wheel that pops up. You can either try to play with the object or pick it up, you can examine, talk to something and finally try to use it with the item you currently have equipped. You point the analogue stick to the thing you want to do and then release the A button. It really is super simple and intuitive.
The meat of the gameplay is in solving ridiculous puzzles and situations with the tools you have in hand. It’s absolutely classic adventure gaming malarky. A very simple in-game example would be: Captain English wants to go down into the lower decks of the ship but, since the time between now and take-off, he’s piled on a few pounds and just can’t quite squeeze through the opening to the ladders. You need to find a way to solve this issue. The solution for this particular puzzle is by picking up some washing up liquid from the kitchen and smearing it on the manhole rim to give you extra lubrication. And I can’t believe I just wrote that.
That’s just the basic of the basic though, there are other puzzles that are a few steps longer, but it never gets stupidly complicated or perplexing, something even the best classic adventure games were occasionally scorned for. In that regard, it’s actually quite an accessible adventure game you may want to start with.
Usually the gameplay section of the review is by far the longest, but actually that’s all there is to it for the most part. You wander around from one ridiculous situation to the next, listening to humorous dialogue and quips, checking the environments out and then solving the puzzle. It’s really very straight forward and almost restrictively so. You’re not going to find and all-action affair here, this is very much entrenched in the genre and those already adverse to it won’t find enjoyment. Those who do enjoy this type of game may actually stumble on to something a little special.
The main problem with Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is that it’s disappointingly short. Providing you don’t get completely stumped by the mild puzzles, you’ll barely be playing past the two hour mark before the credits roll. It’s not very often I lament the ending of a game, but this was one of them. This is supposed to be the first game in a trilogy, and it seems that the original release of this game permitted the second game to get underway in development, but considering the length of time it took them to ship the first game, we still may be a while before we see the conclusion of this potentially good saga.
When talking about value, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is a difficult one to decide up on. It’s a short game with little replay value since it’s so focused on the story and comedy rather than achieving something. The price is small enough to compensate for that though coming in at £9.99. That’s not bad. But I do have a small issue with the price comparison on the American store which is $9.99. If you look like the recent game Shu which I reviewed it was priced far more fairly at £7.69 and $9.99. It’s not a huge difference, but still a little annoying. As a whole though, it’s not too bad value for money and had I paid for it, I don’t think I would have been disappointed or thought I’d wasted my money.
Presentation punching above its weight