Wallace & Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees Review 5

80It is difficult to believe the original Wallace and Gromit short films released over a decade ago, and yet I can still recall the silly yet memorable plot lines, twists, and conclusions.‚  Who could forget the deceptively evil and kleptomaniac penguin from “The Wrong Trousers?” or the intergalactic adventures of a man and his dog based on an incorrect lunar cheese assumption?

The same elements that built the Academy Award winning films undoubtedly spill over into this well constructed and thoroughly enjoyable episodic title, Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures.

“Fright of the Bumblebees” is the zany first episode in the four part series and is the focal point of this review, as the three remaining titles have yet to release.

Graphic Adventure
Telltale Games
Mar. 24, 2009

Upon entering the game and hearing the initial Wallace and Gromit brass and reed instrument theme music, a flood of nostalgia rushed through my body and definitively and effectively created an atmosphere in which I felt comfortable, relaxed and ready for the mayhem I knew would soon transpire.

Immediately you are introduced to two well known and admired characters, you guessed it, Wallace and Gromit.‚  ‚ The fusion of the bumbling, accident prone inventor and cheese lover and his sophisticated canine companion make for a compelling team that succeeds so very well in FOTB.

You can either fire up a tutorial level that calmly walks you through the basic mouse, pointer, and key movements, interactive measures, and inventory system in the title, and while it may be useful for beginners to point-and-click games, skipping it won’t hurt either.

First and foremost, FOTB is situated in three major locations, the front yard, the house, and the town square, exploration is limited to items you can click on and interactively emote with ‚ in a number of ways.‚  This is no sandbox, open world type game, there is no jump, kick, or punch button, story progression advances through speaking with characters, collecting and assembling items to solve the games’ many puzzles.‚  If you want to exact revenge on the neighbor and pee in her garden while playing as Gromit, well I’m sorry, “Pee on lady’s shrubs” is not an accepted interactivity feature.

In the same way the films begin, so does FOTB, Wallace is awoken from his slumber, presses a button on his morning contraption, slides out of bed dumptruck style, flies through the opened floorboard while being simultaneously dressed, and lands directly at the breakfast table ready for his meal.

The first task in FOTB, which is indicative of the style and manner of future quests, is for Gromit to assemble the necessary materials; eggs, toast, and honey from the kitchen, prepare them through the use of one of Wallace’s “helpful” contraptions and finally deliver them to the big man.‚  Certain tasks can be difficult to complete without hints and very generously, Telltale Games created a widget that you can toggle from low to high dependening on the number of hints and tips you’d like during gameplay.‚  There are many moments where you will traverse the entire house, venture outside and even travel to the town square looking for one small item, only to realize it was hidden in a trash can in the corner of the room!‚  Frustrating yes, but you learn quickly.

The game plays as if it were one of the films, cutscenes are long and filled with detail, but the voice acting is pure gold and adds to the emotion of the various sequences.‚  You guide either Wallace or Gromit depending on the scene and without spoiling any plot, the *availability* of the other.

The controls are fluid and simple, directional walking is controlled in the normative WASD orientation with the point of the mouse used as an operative mechanism to access doors, engage in a sequence of hilarious dialogue, or even control the misunderstood “Sniffer 3000.”

Throughout the game to complete the various tasks given to either Wallace or Gromit, the need to store items and call them up for future use becomes necessary and the simple and effective inventory system does just that.‚  At one point in the title, while Wallace is yapping away on the phone in his underpants and oblivious to his neighbors’ predicament, Gromit must pull out an S.O.S. sign from the inventory and flash it at Wallace to gather his attention. ‚ The inventory system is basic but does exactly what is needed from it.