The most surprising thing about Telltale Games%26rsquo; latest episodic adventure is that you quickly forget it%26rsquo;s from an American developer. That%26rsquo;s no small feat when dealing with something as quintessentially British as Wallace and Gromit, nor is that %26ndash; for the most part %26ndash; it feels right. It doesn%26rsquo;t simply resemble the original stop-motion cartoons. It absolutely nails the look and feel, right down to the fake fingerprints embedded in the characters%26rsquo; 3D modeled plasticine. There%26rsquo;s no Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace in the animations), but everything else is exactly what you%26rsquo;d hope for in a W%26amp;G conversion.
This series is four episodes long %26ndash; Telltale%26rsquo;s shortest yet %26ndash; with installments due on a monthly basis. This first one, Fright of the Bumblebees, is relatively simple. Wallace and his long-suffering dog Gromit have just set up their latest home business, making honey for their sleepy northern town. They need 50 gallons of the stuff by nightfall to pay off a debt from their last wacky business, only Wallace has forgotten to plant any flowers for his bees. The solution is obvious: whip up some quick grow formula for the daisies, and if you can%26rsquo;t guess what happens next, you may in fact be legally dead. Sorry to break it to you. Canwe have your stuff?
That%26rsquo;s the only real problem with this episode%26rsquo;s story. It%26rsquo;s a fine premise, but not one that lends itself to many twists and turns. Much of the fun in the original shorts comes from the tight mix of down-to-earth northern-UK style and outlandish escapades, and while you may not know exactly what%26rsquo;s coming up in the next puzzle or scene, you can have a pretty good stab at predicting the general sweep of this story before the introduction is over. In a similar vein, if you%26rsquo;ve played any of Telltale%26rsquo;s previous games, you know how the adventure part works already. Lots of Three Trials-style puzzles so that you always have multiple objectives on the go, relatively simple one-step solutions, and a couple of more dynamic set-pieces thrown in for good measure.
This familiarity is somewhat disappointing, if not a killer. Like Sam %26amp; Max and Strong Bad, W%26amp;G is a fun, casual adventure. It%26rsquo;s simply that the focus is clearly on getting several episodes out, relying on a handful of inoffensive techniques to build puzzles and structure the adventure, rather than necessarily looking for innovative ways to handle each new license.