Telltale Games are the latest developer to take Wallace and Gromit into video games with a series of episodic titles and determination to capture the famous story, character and daft humour first seen on television screens 20 years ago.
Fright of the Bumblebees is the first outing with the Aardman Animation classic taking Wallace, and his trusty counterpart Gromit, through a light-hearted, well scripted story. As the player controls the pair alternately through 4 acts the game moves smoothly through the setting, catastrophe and eventual solution in West Wallaby Street and local Town. Being mostly two distinct areas, a town centre and Wallace’s home, the game area is small but fits well for a problem solving adventure. Overall the areas look good, however the large amount of detail put into the smaller locations makes the penultimate open section look plain in comparison, appearing as though little work had gone into it.
The characters are the focal point of the stories throughout the franchise and this game does particularly well to present the individuals through solid voice performances and animation. Despite Peter Sallis, the original voice of Wallace, being absent in voice the replacement fits well with the community of characters and a connection can still be seen with the muted Gromit. Where Gromit relies on his body language to convey his thoughts is when the quality of animation is most notable, to the point of excellence. For the area that you roam the cast list is plentiful, allowing for a enough depth in story to last four hours of game-play and varying puzzles.
In command of Wallace and Gromit the controls are uncomplicated with good use of shoulder buttons to cycle through points of interest. This is especially useful when selecting items from the inventory and using them with other objects or characters. It is unfortunate to find that the movement is noticeably linear, especially with use of an analogue stick, although this was perhaps overlooked whilst the game was developed for the PC.
The straight forward progression of the story leaves something to be desired. The separation of Wallace and Gromit for large portions of the game leave little moments for the memorable charm, although the community does well to fill the gap. The seemingly impossible target at the end of the game is made possible by the completion of minor tasks through collection, examination and experimentation with the aid of small clues and remarks. The puzzles do seem complicated at times, requiring some thought, driving down the pace of the game and indeed the interest. Like the animations before it the basis for the plot lies in Wallace and his search for the perfect invention for a business that will lift him into fortune. Flight Of The Bumblebees is consistent with the classic Wallace and Gromit and certainly pays homage to other titles. Overall Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures is off to a crackin’ start with a decent game, and it can only get better for the next installment.