On rare occasions, video games have been based on television programmes with already-established fan bases. Take the recent: “The Simpsons Game” for example. Whilst it released close to The Simpsons Movie, it was an entirely new game, with storylines that Simpsons’ fans will not have witnessed before. The latest title to come from this diminutive genre is Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures. The game is the first of four episodes revealed last year by Telltale Games, who had obtained the right to release the series on the PC and the Xbox LIVE Arcade.
The first episode, titled Fright of the Bumblebees, sees Wallace and Gromit producing 50 gallons of honey for the tea and crumpet festival - how very British - to pay off their debt caused by one of Wallace’s crazy conceptions, though the amount seems too much for the pair’s bees to handle unless they can obtain enough flowers. Fortunately, Wallace comes up with a formula to increase the growth rate of some seeds, inspired by a muscle formula advertised on a leaflet he got through the letterbox. Being Wallace and Gromit, it was never going to be smooth-sailing and in growing the flowers, Wallace also grew the bees, causing unrest on West Wallaby Street.
Wallace and Gromit in Fright of the Bumblebees uses a similar play system to one witnessed in Telltale Games’ most successful series, Sam & Max, which involves a point-and-click-like system. Rather than being a direct point and click, the game requires the controlled character to look in the direction of the desired object or character and to press the A button. Alternatively, players can cycle through a room or places content using the left and right bumpers. It takes some getting used to though; once the rather simple tutorial and the first act of making Wallace his breakfast is complete, players should be well and truly used to the unique style of play.
Having laughed and enjoyed Wallace and Gromit for years now, it was great to see the humour was implemented into the game’s fine script, with Wallace coming out with some bee-zarre bumblebee jokes to Gromit’s signature facepalm; the comedy witnessed in the television episodes has been superbly captured and performed.
Despite the lack of Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace), the stand-in does an excellent job of filling in the slippers of such a recognised voice, and as for the rest of the game’s audio, whilst it may not be to the standards of a retail title, what is evident is adequate for an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. A similar thing can be said for the game’s graphics, as the characters have been very accurately modeled with a very good use of texturing, including the odd fingerprint, and buildings have been structured and designed to be almost identical to those everyone is familiar with. These little touches make the gaming experience that little bit more thrilling.
Even though I have a lot of praise for Wallace and Gromit in Fright of the Bumblebees, the length of the title wasn’t pleasing. The game comprises of four acts, each of which take around thirty minutes to complete. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for more game modes and more options, but unfortunately they are nowhere to be found.
At 800 Microsoft Points, I really recommend Wallace and Gromit in Fright of the Bumblebee. Despite its fairly short length, it’s a brilliantly developed title with a script full of the typical Wallace and Gromit humour. With another title confirmed to release soon, the episodic series has really started with a buzz.