Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures: Fright of the Bumblebees

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Adventure: Fright of the Bumblebees

Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Release Date: March 24, 2009

System: PC

ESRB Rating: E

Official Web site

0:00 I was a minor fan of Wallace and Gromit's claymation shorts growing up, and I've been enamored of Telltale's recent Sam & Max and Strong Bad Adventures. Here's hoping the same madcap humor comes through here.

0:01 Grey gears turn in the background as a title card slides in, suspended by a few bits of rope. On it, shadow of a huge bumblebee threatens our inventive duo. Gentle, mysterious oompah music in the Aardman style fills the background.

0:02 The options screen can give hints Never, Rarely, Sometimes or Often. A nice touch. I turn it to Never for now, because I don't want to be tempted to cheat.

0:03 I decide to skip the tutorial. I think the short demo I got at the Game Developers Conference and my experience with other Telltale adventures will get me by.

0:04 Pan up from a picture of Wallace and Gromit fishing to the interior of a house. Gromit puts down a jar of "From Bee to You" honey under a spigot. "Robot Rodent Ravage Shop," says the newspaper headline. The game's title appears amidst shadows of a bumblebee swarm at the door.

0:06 "Breakfast time, Gromit," calls Wallace from upstairs. Just like that, I'm in control of the clay pooch. By the door is a wooden sign with four red lights: Slippers, Breakfast, Newspaper, Walkies. The Breakfast light is flashing. Wallace calls from upstairs: "Drop me down!" "Let's get going ... big day today!" "Up and at 'em!"

0:07 Did I mention that the inside of the house is now mostly a big, black void? Oh ... well, it is. I thought the problem would fix itself by now, but the inky blackness is getting in the way of my moving on in the game now. Time to quit and reset the system, I suppose.

0:08 Ah, no need for the reset! When I go into the graphics settings and move the slider, it shocks the system into behaving. Now I see everything perfectly.

0:09 Gromit pulls a lever and Wallace falls out of his spring-loaded bed, through a trap door in the floor, through hooks holding his clothes and into his breakfast seat. "Another perfect landing." It's Gromit's turn to make breakfast: eggs and toast and honey today.

0:10 Heh ... the bookcase includes classics like Beeowulf and the Great Gatsbee. Cute.

0:11 I turn the clearly-labeled honey spigot to get a jar of honey for Wallace. "Honey brought straight from the source!" he says. "Everyone will want their own honey tap once word gets out." Ew.

0:12 I like Gromit's rather jolly walking animation. I also like being able to move around with the arrow keys rather than by awkwardly clicking on the floor.

0:13 I walk out in the hallway just in time for mail to come through the slot. I walk back to Wallace with it, throwing out a catalog for "Quick Grow Muscle Formula" as I do. "Final demand ... Payment due now ... Disconnection!" Wallace says worriedly as he looks at the bills. "If we don't find some steady customers soon, I don't know how we'll make ends meet." Sounds like a good plot setup to me.

0:16 I finally made it to the kitchen. On the reel-to-reel answering machine, someone's left a message about how our mechanical mouse is wreaking havoc on the Wensleydale in his cheese shop. We're banned from the shop now. Jeez ... sounds like we deserved it!

0:18 There's nothing in the fridge but some butter, which I pick up. Who knows when it'll come in handy. After that, I hit a button to start some sort of Rube Goldberg-esque egg-cracking machine. An extendo-boxing glove hits a chicken, which lays an egg, which ... cracks on the counter. Seems I need a way to get it over to the wooden mallet/frying pan contraption down the counter a bit.

0:20 Stumped on the eggs, I work on the tea. As soon as I take out the bag, a squirrel comes in and steals it, running out the open window. On to the toast, which is also stolen by the squirrel as soon as it pops up out of the toaster. Looks like we have an antagonist.

0:22 The next time I make toast, the squirrel is foiled by some carefully-placed slippery butter. Whoo! I solved a puzzle!

0:27 I'm at my wits' end with the egg thing, so I walk over to the dining room to hand over the toast and honey that I do have. "But I'm still one egg short of a breakfast," Wallace says sullenly. Wow ... I'm going to have to use that as a euphemism for stupid people in the future. "Yeah, he's nice, but he's one egg short of a breakfast, if you know what I mean."

0:30 Still wandering around looking for something, anything, that I can use for this egg device. This is what I hate about adventure games ... I always run into a wall where I just can't figure out what they want me to click. Usually I don't hit that wall so quickly, though.

0:31 Guess I'll explore the house a bit. Let's see ... I can't go in the basement, and the living room is full of crates for honey tap supplies. Upstairs, Wallace's room has some stinky cheese by the bed. Ah, there's a tennis racket by the bed. Is this the key to the puzzle? Here's hoping!

0:34 Nope ... "Use tennis racket with wire" is just as useless as everything else I've tried on this stupid egg-cracking device. Can't Wallace get up and do this himself? I swear...

0:36 "That's the sound of my belly, Gromit. It says what I'm too polite to mention ... breakfast is late!" I try to "Use tennis racket on Wallace's face" ... Gromit just shakes his head. Come on! He deserves it for that passive-aggressive comment!

0:38 Back in the bedroom, I'm searching for something, anything to help with my predicament. There's a record in a record player. The game says I can pick it up, but when I click to do just that, nothing happens. Umm...

0:42 I go back into the settings and tell the game to give me hints "Often." Anything to break this awful logjam that's stopping me from moving on!

0:44 Ah, a new room. It's ... a dark pantry filled with crackers. Cute, but not helpful.

0:47 "I'd like to help you with breakfast, lad, but it's part of your training!" Man, I want to smack the smug off that pretty little clay face...

0:48 "Pay the bills or chuck it all, and start over as a vagabond. Which shall it be, Gromit?" Man, who can't relate to that thought?

0:51 Finally, the hint comes. Wallace tells me that he "rustled up the conveyance unit from the Egg-o-lator and used it for another invention! You'll have to rustle up a spare part from somewhere, Gromit!" But where ... where is that spare part? I feel like I've searched everywhere, clicked on every exposed piece of scenery. ARGH!

0:53 I swear, if this record that I can't pick up for some reason is the key to this puzzle...

0:55 Usually I would have given up and checked a walkthrough by now, but I'm feeling especially prideful today. I will not let this game beat me! Well, in five minutes I probably will. BUT STILL!

0:57 I now believe I have tried to use this tennis racket on every clickable object in the house. I'm beginning to think it's a red herring...

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Probably not.

Why? If I got this stuck in the first hour, the rest of the game would probably be a pointless repetition of steps from a walkthrough. The game itself is cute, but not enough to get past this...

This column is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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