Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees
First posted on 24 March 2009. Last updated on 05 June 2011.
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures
The season is comprised of 4 episodes:
- Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees
- Episode 2: The Last Resort
- Episode 3: Muzzled!
- Episode 4: The Bogey Man
Wallace and Gromit are a British duo of a man and his dog that have become iconic figures in British pop culture. Created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, they have appeared in a series of animated shorts and even a feature film since their debut in 1989. Though this is not the first time the duo have been in a video game, they have not appeared in a bona fide adventure game—that is, until now. Finally, Telltale Games, developer of the popular Sam & Max and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People game series, brings Wallace and Gromit into the adventure genre with a brand new episodic series, aptly titled Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures.
Unsurprisingly, many fans of Wallace & Gromit all over the world are thrilled by the news of the game's development. Quite a few, however, are somewhat skeptical. This skepticism is not unfounded—after all, Wallace and Gromit are British, whereas Telltale Games is American! The good news is that Telltale Games has managed to keep the charm and humor that make Wallace & Gromit so British. The duo still live in the English suburb on West Wallaby Street, and they have not been Americanized in any way in the game. Wallace is as fond as ever of Wensleydale cheese with crackers, and Gromit is as skillful as ever at coping with his master's hare-brained inventions. The only difference is that Wallace and Gromit are now made of virtual polygons, instead of modeling clay.
In Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees (also known as Wallace & Gromit in Fright of the Bumblebees), Wallace has yet again problems paying his bills and is trying to sell honey from his newest invention for money. Using a machine powered by bees, Wallace hopes to find a faster way to gather honey. The trouble, of course, is that he has received a large order that has to be filled the same day, but he is missing a very important ingredient—flowers!
Surely, to grow all the flowers he needs for his honey before sunset is a challenge, but this never stops Wallace from trying anyway (with help from Gromit, obviously). There are quite a few problems the duo need to solve before they can bring their plan to fruition. Wallace's previous invention has also caused some problems in the town center, and they will need to be fixed before Wallace can turn his attention to his current predicament.
At first glance, the episode seems to be rather short. However, when you apparently reach the end, you will discover that the game is not yet over. This is because you will have to backtrack to clean up some of the mess you have made reaching your original goal.
Sadly, Peter Sallis does not provide the voice for Wallace in this game. Rather, the character is voiced by Ben Whitehead, another British actor who incidentally also has a small voice role in the film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in which Sallis is voice of Wallace. Having heard the new voice for Wallace, I agree that Whitehead is the best alternative next to Sallis himself, and Telltale Games deserves much credit for this choice.
All of the game's characters and environments are drawn authentic to the series' British origin. The constable, wearing a helmet, looks like a real life British "bobby" (slang for "police"), and the neighborhood street sign befits that of a small town located somewhere in England.
The music, composed by Jared Emerson-Johnson, continues to impress. The familiar Wallace & Gromit theme is of course present, but there is also a great soundtrack of original tunes in the game.
Fans will appreciate the fact that both Wallace and Gromit are playable characters in this game. However, you cannot change the character at will. Rather, you play as either Wallace or Gromit as the scene dictates. In the game, you can interact with many of Wallace's imaginative but inept contraptions, including a Rube Goldberg breakfast machine that will transport an egg from a hen to a sledge to crack it and finally into a pan to cook it, complete with a timer to serve the egg after it is done cooking!
Instead of pointing and clicking with the mouse, you use the ASDW or arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate your character around on screen (thankfully, the game also supports gamepad). You use the Shift key to access the inventory. However, interacting with objects is still done with the mouse. The characters will also move closer to the objects that you click on. This change is probably made so to make the controls identical between the computer and console versions of the game.
The game offers a brief tutorial whereby Wallace will walk you through the basics of the game's interface (similar to what Telltale Games has done in other games). This part is a standalone from the rest of the game. The game also has a built-in adaptive hint system, in which the characters will drop off hints on occasion if the game senses that you are not making progress. The frequency of these hints can be adjusted from the main menu.
The puzzles in this game are of pretty standard variety: pick up items, give them away, or use them on other items. It is not possible to combine multiple inventory items to create new uses for them.
There are no dialog trees to wade through in this game. The other characters simply speak to you when you walk near them. They may offer you a hint to a puzzle or an item you will need later on. In some cases, when you are in the vicinity of a character, you may click on a nearby item to either talk about it or trigger an action with it by the speaking character.
Although the game has voiceovers in only English, there is an option to enable subtitles in German, French, Italian, and Spanish (in addition to English). This is a pretty impressive list (given that video games are rarely translated to more languages than this), and it reflects the worldwide appeal of the Wallace & Gromit franchise that has been adopted to many different languages around the world.
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees is an excellent leadoff to a new adventure series for Telltale Games. Gamers who have little experience with episodic gaming may find this game to be a bit short. However, keeping in mind that there will be 4 episodes in total, the game as a whole is still well worth every cent (or every pence) paid for the season. I have found the game to be as entertaining as the original claymation shorts, and I look forward to the duo's next cracking adventure. Until then, more Wensleydale cheese, please!