Wallace and Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees XBLA


Telltale has had great success in bringing adventure titles to the PC and Wii, With Sam and Max and Strong Bad making waves, Telltale are now working with Aardman to bring you Wallace and Gromit. Staying with the episodic format that has been working so well, the first part of W&G: Fright of the bumblebees has been out for PC for some time now but now it’s landed on XBLA.
Available for 800 MS points, the first part of the Grand Adventures series depicts the true feeling of Aardmans animation.

From the moment the opening credits roll, Fright of the Bumblebees gives you a sense of settling down on Christmas day to enjoy the new adventure. However, this time it’s down to you to guide Wallace and Gromit through their tale and quite a convoluted one at that. Fright opens up with a brief tutorial to teach you how to control the characters. The controls here play as a double edge sword, while simplistic and easy to use they feel strangely awkward and redundant. You can move Wallace or his faithful companion with the left stick and look around for selectable items with the right stick. However you can also tap the bumper buttons to scroll through the “clickable” items on display. This means that if you want to open a gate and walk out, you can scroll with the bumpers and hit A. After time you’ll find that it’s easier to just scroll through and select as the right stick can take longer to actually “lock on” to the item you want to target.

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Once the control method has sunk into your grey matter it’s time to get on with the adventure. The story starts out with Wallace and Gromit getting in trouble for their cheese detecting robot mouse terrorizing people and generally being a nuisance and causing damage to a shop in the village. Since that hairbrained scheme got them into trouble, the reluctant heroes have now started a business producing honey. As payment for destroying his shop, the owner and racial stereotype Mr Paneer has asked for an order of fifty gallons of honey to be delivered to him by the end of the day.
So starts your journey with Wallace and his put upon dog, a great story that stays in line with the over the top plots found in the short films.

However an adventure game is built on it’s puzzles as well as it’s story. I won’t give away any solutions here, although a few would help, The puzzles found in W&G range from the simple to the absurdly hard. As with all adventure games there is a trend to make you think out of the box and as interesting as that premise can be, it can also be cumbersome to the plot. Saying that, most of the puzzles on display here are quirky and only a few will either have you scratching your head or pulling your hair out.
Any newcomers to the genre may find the puzzles to be over the top and ludicrous, the problem with this is that you can’t get more inviting characters than Wallace and Gromit. So any newbies may find the game that looks very accessible from the outset to be overly tricky and get put off from finishing.

There is however, something here for everyone. The characters are well fleshed out and the spirit of the animation has been kept to a high standard. Everything from Gromits eye rolling at Wallace to the finger prints in the “clay” are found here. The only thing that can let down the presentation of the title is the lack of Peter Sallis as the voice of Wallace. Although the person Telltale brought in is a great mimic, any fan will notice quite a difference and feel slightly empty towards the lovable main character.
The accompanying cast are interesting and have the wit and humour found in typical British culture, voiced very well, each member of the neighbourhood feels fleshed out.

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As the game moves along you will run into these characters many times and each encounter has a dry humour to it that will make you smirk. However there aren’t many moments that will trigger a belly laugh as the animation might. Laughs are something that anyone who’s played an adventure game before, comes to expect and unfortunately they are few and far between here.
When playing a title such as Sam and Max there are moments of genius in the one liners. Wallace and Gromit don’t lend themselves well to this comedy as much of the laughable moments in the films are visual and this is difficult to carry off in a game.

As with other point and clicks there are times when you may try to combine two items that need not be combined or wouldn’t work. In other titles this is normally accompanied by a witty line of dialogue to tell you you’re wrong but applauds you for trying. Unfortunately the fact that Gromit doesn’t talk and Wallace just says “no” or “that won’t work” makes you feel disjointed from the actions on screen and dejected that you were wrong.

All in all the game will take around three to four hours to complete and there are some enjoyable moments along the way, but ultimately when the end credits roll, it really is the end. W&G doesn’t have a great deal of replayability, once you’ve solved all the puzzles you know the answers and the chances are you unlocked all of the achievements too.
If you’re a fan of the adventures of Wallace and Gromit then it’s likely you’ll enjoy the story here and providing you can get through the puzzles, you’ll walk away happy. However you may not be converted to the adventure genre. Adventure fans will find a competent game that can feel lacklustre at times.
The charm of the main characters and cast will tell you how much should love this game, but some of the puzzles and lack of the classic humour do let the whole package down.

Hi-Score – Great animation and look of characters, fun storyline and accessible controls.

Lo-Score – Frustrating puzzles, lack of traditional humour and no Peter Sallis.

Final Score – 6 out of 10

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  1. July 7th, 2009

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