Sadly not every element of this transition went as smoothly. Simply walking in a straight line can be a major hassle thanks to the somewhat unresponsive control scheme. Because of the way the camera moves and changes positions, it's easy to get into trouble just using the left analog stick to move your character. Thankfully you can resolve this by using the right analog stick to look and interact, but there's no excuse for the game's poor character handling.
Another problem I had with the game were the weird frame rate issues. While the game certainly looks good and has fantastic production values, I couldn't get past the jerky look and the occasionally rough animation. The game's frame rate actually plays into the poor handling of the character, which can be real frustrating when you're expected to do something quickly in an action sequence. Thankfully there aren't too many times when this is a factor, but I was disappointed by the sluggish frame rate from beginning to end.
The good news is that this short (two or three hour) adventure is still worth playing through. As I mentioned above, the production values are actually quite strong. All of the characters look and act just like they do in the cartoon, and the great writing and sense of humor has been left intact. Better still, the voice acting is spectacular, even when you realize that Wallace is played by Ben Whitehead and not Peter Sallis. Fans of the animated shorts will fall in love with the way the game looks and the atmosphere it creates. This is a perfect compliment to Nick Park's animated shorts.
A lot of the same criticisms that were leveled against the first episode of Sam & Max can be said about Fright of the Bumblebees. The game isn't massive in length or scope, it's a simple adventure that doesn't try to be anything more than it actually is. There aren't a lot of set pieces, only a few rooms in your house and a sizeable town square. The puzzles, while challenging, aren't so difficult that you will have to run to a walkthrough guide or forum for help. And once you've played through the game, you probably won't be rushing back any time soon. But this is a $10 game, so this isn't tyring to be some sort of 20 hour epic with a deep narrative. It's the first episode of a new batch of Wallace & Gromit games, a way to reintroduce our heroes, set up the world they live in and get you accustomed to the types of puzzles you will need to solve. And as a first episode, it succeeds at doing all that. It doesn't reinvent the genre, but it's a delightful adventure game with a lot of good-natured laughs and some strong voice acting.
I cannot think of a better way to capture the genius of Wallace & Gromit in an interactive medium. With its simple story and engaging cast of characters, it's hard not to fall in love with the antics of these two inventors. No matter if you're a fan of Wallace & Gromit or just love an old fashioned adventure game, Fright of the Bumblebees is a great way to spend a few hours. I expect big things from this promising new episodic series.
Fans of Wallace & Gromit have no excuse not to pick up this wonderful adventure game from Telltale Games. Fright of the Bumblebees is full of memorable characters, challenging puzzles and enough good-natured jokes to keep you busy until episode two comes out. Even with its few flaws, this Wallace & Gromit adventure is still worth playing through!
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