Game Review: Wallace & Gromit in Fright of the Bumblebees
Release: May 27, 2009
Genre: Puzzle / Interactive
Developer: Telltale Games
Available Platforms: XBLA
MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
ESRB Rating: E
Website: Telltale Games
Wallace and Gromit need no introduction. Cultural icons in Britain, and beloved characters in America, the man with a plan (for everything) and his canine companion are well known for getting caught up in some rough situations, usually due to their own oversights. Fright of the Bumblebees is the first episode in a four part series being created by Telltale games.
The story starts off simply enough, Wallace is awoken by Gromit and demands breakfast which you, being the loyal dog that you are, promptly cook up. This is where things get crazy, or at least as crazy as things can get for Wallace and Gromit. In an unfortunate series of events (all your fault) you find the town under attack by gigantic bees.
Will the town become their hive, or can Wallace and Gromit save the day? You’ll have to finish the game to find out.
The concept of Wallace and Gromit is fairly simple. You navigate the character’s world using either Wallace or Gromit, based on the situation you find yourself in. You are tasked with finding items scattered through the environment and putting them to use in different scenarios. Without spoiling too much, one example is using a slippery substance to stop a furry thief from making off with your toast.
As you progress through the game the puzzles become more and more involved, including word puzzles, and others which involve several tiers of situations before reaching the final solution.
The greatest thing that this game has going for it is that it has an endless supply of charm. Every time you solve a puzzle, even if it is insultingly easy, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, be that in the form of gaining a new item that you needed to solve another puzzle, or a few witty lines from any of the remarkable (and memorable, especially if you are a fan of the series, or movies) cast.
It sometimes can feel like every game coming out has complicated controls, fast paced action, and a first person view to show off the grand explosions. Wallace and Gromit isn’t that game, and that is what makes it so much fun. Every time I started up my game I felt like a kid again, back in elementry school or middle school, playing a point and click adventure, and the nostalgic factor alone was enough to propel me through the game.
You might think the simplicity of the game would make it short, which I won’t argue, is often the case, but not here. Wallace and Gromit took me 4 days of casual play to complete, which in my opinion is pretty successful. While some of the longetivity comes from getting stuck on puzzles, it never got to the point where I felt like they made some puzzles too difficult just to increase the games length.
I really only had one issue with the game, and that was that at times, the controls can get a bit iffy. This is mostly a result of your inability to move the camera around, which isn’t ever really a necessity, but it would have been a nice feature. This will sometimes cause your character to walk in the wrong direction, or turn around in circles. This only lasts for a few seconds in most cases, but it is enough to draw you out of the game.
Final Verdict: If you are like me, your gaming library is full of games that require a lot of time and dedication to both master, and finish. Wallace and Gromit isn’t one of those games, and I can’t praise it enough for that very reason. If you are looking for a relaxing and often refreshing arcade game that will challenge you mentally at times and make you crack a few smiles, this is a great way to spend your Microsoft Points.
Disclaimer: This game is also available for Windows PC. I reviewed the XBLA version. The PC version currently has 2-3 episodes available.