|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
On the heels of Telltale Games highly entertaining point-and-click adventure game treatments of the anthropomorphic freelance police duo Sam & Max and the bizarre antics of Strongbad and his Cool Game for Attractive People posse comes another episodic gaming series packed with humor and personality. Series after series, Telltale has proven adventure games are alive and well, and the downloadable episodic format is clearly a growing platform for the genre. Featuring the renowned, cheese-loving British inventor and his mute-but-intellectual pooch, Wallace & Gromits Grand Adventures: Fright of the Bumblebees kicks off another volley of bite-sized monthly adventure gaming.
Despite their stop-motion clay animation roots, Wallace and Gromit are no strangers to the video game world. Since their debut in a themed mini-game collection on an interactive CD-Rom game back in the mid 90s, theyve starred in a handful of games based on classic animated shorts and their semi-recent feature film. In Fright of the Bumblebees, the first of four upcoming installments in the Wallace & Gromits Grand Adventures series, the pair may be ill-equipped to deal with dicey new business operations and a swarm of miscreant worker bees, but they deliver amply on the promise of goofy and interesting gameplay.
Other than his borderline obsession with all manner of cheeses, Wallace is known for his over-elaborate and wild inventions the bulk of which typically function in disastrously unintended ways. With the monthly bills piling up, it helps little when his new cheese-sniffing robotic mouse contraption goes haywire and rampages through the local grocery store. To square up his debt to the shopkeeper, Wallace decides to kick his basement honey making operation into high gear and agrees to produce and deliver a ridiculous amount of the sweet, sticky stuff by the end of the day. However, a crackpot scheme to locate enough flowers to feed his hungry bees backfires, resulting in insects of unusual size cavorting around town and terrorizing local citizens. Putting a stop to the buzzing menace is an appropriately silly project that requires the duo interact with some of the towns quirky residents and piece together obscure solutions to numerous puzzles. Wallace and Gromit fans will find the humorous story and other shenanigans are on par with the quality amusement found in the animated shorts.
Per the usual, Wallace is rather clueless and unknowingly must rely on his pal Gromit (the brains of the operation) to pull things through. Youll switch back-and-forth between controlling the two characters at different points in the adventure as the plot progresses. Each character offers a slightly different perspective of the situation. Wallace is funny and meek but rather oblivious and a little daft; Gromit doesnt talk at all (he lacks a mouth and communicates only through facial expression and gestures) but is clearly brighter than his human master. Theyll react differently to the same interactive elements in various rooms, which means hunting for clues and items yields different result depending on the current character youre playing. This stretches the exploration in the games three main settings a tad further, since new events will happen upon revisiting rooms further along in the story.