Game Review: Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures: Fright of the Bumblebees

Wallace and Gromit
Image via Wikipedia

Hi there!

This past March, Telltale Games released the first episode of four for a new game along the lines of their Sam & Max series. Based on the Wallace & Gromit series of short and feature-length stop-motion animated films from Aardman Animations, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures is a shared venture between Telltale Games and Aardman. They’ve created an interactive computer adventure game where you get to control either Wallace or Gromit as they work their way through a number of challenges as they try to sell honey, create contraptions, and deal with a variety of odd characters as you would only find in Wallace & Gromit’s world.

I would liken this game to something along the lines of the various “Quest” series from Sierra Adventures back in the ’80s and ’90s (King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and so on) mixed with the complexity of the Infocom adventure games rom the ’80s (,em>Zork, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Enchanter, and so on). Somewhere among these games are the virtual parents of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures.

Each episode is being sold not only for PC/Microsoft Windows machines, but also for XBOX on XBOX LIVE Arcade sometime in the future. The content should be identical between the versions, but the XBOX version won’t be available for a while yet.

Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Game Cast ...
Image by grnknight via Flickr

The animation, though computer-generated, is amazingly like that of the Wallace & Gromit animated features. You’d almost swear that you were in fact controlling the characters in one of their cartoons. So as far as the look and feel, they’re spot on. But the voice of Wallace in the game sounds different to me than the voice used in the Aardman features. Peter Sallis has done the voice of Wallace in most of the Aardman features, but unfortunately he wasn’t available for the game. The voice actor in this case is Ben Whitehead and he can do a pretty spot on impression of Wallace, but it’s not quite the same.

The interface to me is a bit dodgy at times. I have to admit that I have not played any other game from Telltale Games, so I’m not sure if it’s the same interface they used for Sam & Max, but it involves a great deal of fiddling around to get in the right place so you can click on the right things. You use the arrow or WASD keys to move the character around, the shift key to interact with your inventory, and then use the mouse to interact with objects and characters. My earlier comparison to Infocom games was based on the fact that you almost have to be a kleptomaniac to figure things out, stealing things from devices, or on tables or bookcases, and then using them to work around various puzzles.

This game is definitely not meant for the kiddies, and not from a content perspective. My daughters (ages 4 and 8) love Wallace & Gromit and always enjoy their features. But the puzzles are definitely a bit more difficult than some of the other puzzle games out for kids on PC or XBOX. I’m an experienced gamer (have been playing ever since I had an Apple II in 1982) and I even had difficulty with some of the puzzles. The good thing is that there are hints and if you get stuck, you just have to listen to Wallace to see if he can get you going in the right direction. Telltale anticipates that each episode will take between three and five hours of gameplay to finish, which isn’t bad at all.

Overall, I think this will be a great property for Telltale Games. There are Wallace & Gromit fans all over the world who will snatch up this series, and with as popular as the Sam & Max series is for them I anticipate Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures will be another another blockbuster.

Be sure to check out the game at the Telltale Games site!

–Fitz

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

DVD Review: Shaun the Sheep – Off the Baa!

Hi all…

As huge fans of Wallace and Gromit, we were honored to get a chance to take a look at Shaun the Sheep – Off the Baa! when it was announced.

Shaun the Sheep first came on the scene in Wallace & Gromit’s short film, A Close Shave in 1995. He caused no end of trouble for the famous pair. And that appearance spawned a spin-off series of 40 seven-minute episodes. Off the Baa! is the first DVD collection of the show and includes eight hilarious episodes.

[rating:4/4]

Evidently the show has been shown on the Disney Channel and has been regularly among the top 5 shorts. (Shaun even has his own Disney Channel web page – click here!) Apparently we don’t watch enough Disney Channel at our house!

Each episode combines slapstick humor and old-style silent comedy in new and entertaining ways as we meet Shaun and all the other animals on the farm.

Characters include:

  • Shaun (the leader of the flock)
  • Timmy and his Mum (Timmy is the baby sheep of the flock)
  • Bitzer (the Farmer’s Dog)
  • The Farmer (very confused, but not very smart)
  • Shirley (the biggest sheep on the lot)
  • The Pigs (always trying to spoil the sheep’s fun)

The eight episodes included on the DVD are:

  • Off the Baa
  • Timmy in a Tizzy
  • Buzz Off Bees
  • Who is the Mummy
  • Mower Mouth
  • Fleeced
  • Shaun Shoots the Sheep
  • Mountains Out of Molehills

Since I have soccer players at my house, we were all entertained by “Off the Baa” when Shaun and company turn a cabbage head into a soccer ball and have a match. The Pigs (always hungry) have to try and steal the ball for a mid-day snack of course!

“Mower Mouth” and “Mountains Out of Molehills” introduce a couple of other characters… a goat who eats everything in one case and a mole who’s digging holes all across the farm. Both cause no end of trouble for Bitzer and Shaun.

In addition to the eight great episodes, there are a few extras. A “Meet the Animals” feature that introduces us to the cast of characters for Shaun the Sheep from a kid’s point of view. And a couple of sneak peeks for a “Shaun of the Sheep” game for the Nintendo DS and “Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures” games from Telltale Games.

For any fans of stop-motion animation, Wallace & Gromit, or just fun family animation, Shaun of the Sheep – Off the Baa! provides a fun introduction to Shaun’s world!

–Fitz

p.s.  Pick up Shaun the Sheep at Amazon and look for it on The Disney Channel!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]