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Wallace & Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees

Wallace & Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Miscellaneous

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios/Telltale games


800 MS points

Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees has you entering the colourful world of West Wallaby Street in the first of four cracking adventures. In this first episode, Wallace and his loyal pooch are faced with a big problem as they need 50 gallons of honey by the evening - far more than their bees can handle. When Wallace's plans to step up production go horribly awry, it falls to Gromit to fight off the angry swarm. Featuring a brand new story with the same slapstick humour, cinematic visuals, and the charm that fans of the Wallace & Gromit films have come to love, Fright of the Bumblebees kicks off this four-episode series in cracking style.


The visuals in Fright of the Bumblebees are very well done. The characters have are accurately modeled as they are well textured and coloured. I even noticed the inclusion of the odd fingerprint moulded into the clay models which should get a laugh out of everyone who is familiar with the show. The Wallace and Gromit series of shorts are well-known for their use of clay to animate all the characters. While the video game is not animated in this same style, the characters are completely faithful to the source material. Both Wallace and Gromit look identical to their clay counterparts used in the making of the show and all the side characters have the same unique style to them. The cast of characters is small, but each one of them looks very good. Even the non-human characters in the game (excluding Wallace) are animated really well and can be quite funny at times. In general, the game runs fairly smoothly but I did notice some long loading times when your characters would walk from one room into another and there a few framerate issues during gameplay. Finally, the town’s buildings have been structured and designed to be almost identical to those everyone is familiar with. It is these little touches that make playing this title a little bit more enticing.


The sound work in Fright of the Bumblebees is very good despite the lack of Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace in the T.V. episodes and movies. The individual who stands-in though does an excellent job of filling in some big shoes of such a recognised voice. In fact I had to really listen to be able to discern the difference, it’s really that good! The rest of cast of characters are all voiced quite well with each having their own distinctive flavour that helps make the story flow and feel interesting. None of the cast seems out of place and they certainly put a smile on your face with some of the really clever British lines. On a bit of a negative side, the dialogue does tend to repeat itself after some time, but overall it did manage to offer a lot of interaction between the non-playable characters and Wallace and Gromit. The music in the game is also similar to the style of the shorts. You’ll hear plenty of big band music and it fits the tone of the story very well. As for the rest of the game’s audio, it may not be to the standards of a full retail game title but it is perfectly adequate for an XBLA title given its size restraints. In the end I really don't have a lot of complaints in the sound department.


As I started out my adventure I thought to myself that the game really did play much like an episode from the television show. This is good thing since the shows are fun to watch. You will find out quickly that the game is a brilliantly developed title with an engaging script, full of the typical Wallace and Gromit humour. As noted in my introduction, this game is the first of a four part series and this first chapter lays out a solid foundation for the next three games.

Fright of the Bumblebees is a straight port of the PC versionwhich lets you control both Wallace and Gromit as you would with any point and click adventure, only this time you control them with your Xbox 360 controller. Character movement feels a bit stiff and awkward at first, but you’ll be able to figure out its quirks quickly and adapt accordingly. The game's pace is such that you won’t have too much to do in short time, so the learning curve is pretty steady and somewhat quick. The camera angles don’t always follow the action correctly, however they work well most of the time and they don’t become too frustrating. The game lets you interact with certain objects found around the room while also limiting your stiff movements in the process. By holding the Y button you will highlight points of interests, and then you can use the left and right bumpers in order to interact with the objects faster. By moving your character close to whatever is highlighted, you’ll be able to interact with it. Your character has a limit of four slots to pick up things that they may need during their adventure, with most items being of the tool and invention variety. If you need to pick things up for a specific mission, it will be added to your inventory automatically and you can access it via the X button.

Through the length of the game there are a few areas you’ll explore including your house (upstairs and downstairs) as well as various places in the town centre. Some spots may have a lot of items to examine while others only have a few key pieces/items to collect or look at. Gamers are going to have to be prepared to deal with a lot of walking and backtracking. In some situations, you’ll need to collect an item in one area in order to complete a task in another. This probably the only gripe I have with the game, as sometimes you’ll have no clue as to what to collect or even interact with. The game has a bit of a cheat system built in which will kick in if it reads that you are having difficulty. In these cases the game will begin to give you clues and cues subtly in your background, hoping to direct you in the right direction. I found I got stuck a few times, but overall the tests and quests are easy enough to enjoy but challenging at the same time. For the most part the story is fairly linear and you won’t be able to go off the beaten path too much.

Even though I have a lot of praise for Wallace and Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees, the length of the title left me hungry for more. The game comprises of four acts, each of which take around thirty minutes to complete. This wouldn’t be so bad if there were more game modes and more options, but unfortunately they are nowhere to be found. And yes, I know that this is an XBLA title and I do think it could have been longer. I suppose the length of Fright of the Bumblebees follows the T.V. shorts format, but we are on a game console now, where content is king.


At 800 Microsoft Points, I would whole heartily recommend Wallace and Gromit: Fright of the Bumblebees even despite its fairly short length. The episodic series has really started off with a bang. The story is engrossing and adults, as well as young children, will most likely love this XBLA game and its contents.


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