Review: Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees (Xbox 360)June 9th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Xbox 360
We’ve seen a few Wallace & Gromit games before that used the classic platformer model that most movie or cartoon properties use to decent results over the past few years. Luckily, Telltale Games picked up the license to adapt for its style of adventure gameplay to bring that classic British charm to PC and Xbox 360 owners with Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures. PC owners are already a few episodes ahead, so it was nice to see Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees come out on Xbox Live Arcade just before E3.
With a few short films and a full-length movie, Fright of the Bumblebees leans more towards the short films, as far as the amount of content it contains. The story follows Wallace’s latest business venture, which will attempt to offer a tap in houses for when those people are hungering for a bit of honey. Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly for Wallace as he creates a quick growth formula to get some flowers to grow instantly that has an unintended side effect of creating giant bees that Wallace must take care of alongside his trusty pal, Gromit.
The story of Fright of the Bumblebees is broken up into four acts that starts off with the simple act of making breakfast and gets more hectic as things get worse and worse before you try to finish things off at the fourth act. This sets a nice tone of variety as you have your typical style of adventure puzzles that you have to solve by picking up items, figuring out where they fit in to the solution for your problem, and moving on to the next puzzle. Mostly play as Gromit for most of the acts, but Wallace does come into play for a major portion of the game before his trusty companion does most of the work, like how it happens in the films. By the time the third act moves around, some more action is injected into the plot with some turret gameplay that fits into the adventure gameplay quite well while changing things up rather nicely. The fourth act is a nice cap to the story both in changed gameplay and the focus on action and puzzles that fits the Wallace & Gromit fun very well with the likes of A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave.
The gameplay in Fright of the Bumblebees is a bit different from the norm of adventure gameplay, mostly by the addition of full 3D movement within the environment without the need for point-and-click gameplay that works very well for the Xbox 360 controller. Selecting items is a bit awkward with the first method of using the right analog stick, but luckily the other option of using the shoulder buttons to rotate between what you can interact with on the screen works great. Puzzles are never really all that hard to figure out the solution if you’re persistent enough, though there is maybe one puzzle where you can’t try again if you mess up the solution. Using the bookmarks, which is your basic manual save option, often enough can help a lot for getting around that kind of situation.
Telltale did a good job of capturing the clay look of the films for Fright of the Bumblebees, though there are still some moments where that’s not the case, like chatting with townsfolk. You can even see fingerprints and other noticeable details that come with the use of clay for the series that have been added in, which was nice to see. It’s immediately noticeable that Wallace’s normal voice actor was not involved here, but the official back-up is used instead and that issue goes away well before the end of the game. Even the classic music from the films returns and adds a lot to making this feel like a classic Wallace & Gromit adventure.
Wallace & Gromit Episode 1: Fright of the Bumblebees does a great job of capturing the classic style that the short films had to craft an enjoyable and concise experience that makes us eagerly anticipate the second episode’s release. At about three to five hours long at most, this episode brings enough enjoyment to be worth the 800 points ($10) as a cheaper episodic experience than others that have come out on Xbox Live Arcade.