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By BengaBenga 29th Mar 2009 | 1,908 views
After developing Sam & Max and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, developer Telltale Games uses the Wallace & Gromit franchise in their latest series of episodic point & click adventures: Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Season One: Fright of the Bumblebees. The game is based on the television series about the Lancashire inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit. In this first episode of four the two have to face a bee invasion. Obviously, for those that know the series a bit, the invasion is the result of one of Wallace's hilarious inventions.
The “Magnatronic Pullinator”, a machine that converts flowers into honey, is Wallace's latest invention, as well as his hope to finally make some cash, as the bills keep coming in and the money's running out. The malfunction of one of Wallace's other works, the cheese-hunting Sniffer 3000, causes some financial trouble as the local grocery store sends a massive bill for the damage the robot has caused. Soon enough, a massive order comes in from the local grocer for the honey, with a deadline of that evening. Although he doesn't have nearly enough flowers to make good on this order, Wallace accepts, leading to all kinds of crazy consequences.
Bees are everywhere in this game
Fright of the Bumblebees is a traditional point & click adventure. You have limited movement through the static backgrounds by using the arrow or WASD keys and will have to research the area by clicking on the different items. The direction of movement is relative to the camera angle, which can cause some problems in the beginning. Progression through the game is made by solving the various puzzles. In the beginning, for example, you have to fix one of Wallace's funny time-saving inventions, a machine that stomps a chicken and automatically transfers the egg to the pan, by finding the missing item. The overall difficulty level of the puzzles is sadly not on par with Strong Bad or Sam & Max. I don't know whether that's intentional, but it looks like the game is a little bit more suited towards kids. You'll control both Wallace and Gromit in different parts of the story, but this doesn't affect the gameplay at all. A missed opportunity, since Gromit, the dog, is definitely the smarter of the two. At around four hours the game is very short, and since the puzzles are the same the second time through, there's no replay value at all. Also there's not as much to do aside from the main game, like the extra activities in the Strong Bad games for example. Obviously this is episodic content and it's $34.95 for all four episodes, but still a little bit more value would have been appreciated.
You'll play partly as the dog Gromit...
The best part of the game is the atmosphere. Telltale again succeeds in transferring the tone of a television series to a videogame. In this case it means that the uniquely British atmosphere and humour that are so typical for Wallace & Gromit are very well translated into the game. The graphics look polished and the characters look very much like the claymation original, which is a huge plus. The environments are full of nice, quirky details. Overall it's pretty basic, but that's more or less to be expected, but this doesn't prevent the house and the town of Wigan from really coming to life. The voice acting is very well done, although it's a shame the original voice of Wallace isn't in this game. The thick British accent might prove too much for non-natives, but luckily there's the option to turn on the subtitles. This is also helpful because the background music, which consists of brass band tunes, is often too loud in the mix.
...and partly as the inventor Wallace
Just like the earlier Telltale episodic point & click games, Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode One: Fright of the Bumblebees stays very close to the original television series and provides a very enjoyable four hours of interactive cartoon. The puzzles aren't very remarkable though, which is a bit of a shame since the presentation is very well done. With four hours of length it's on the short side, but it suits the price and for fans of the series and/or the genre this is an easily digestible and fun experience.