Although we have seen Wallace & Gromit in some games before, Telltale goes for something a bit different (and perhaps more familiar) with their Grand Adventures. Although the first episode, Fright of the Bumblebees, released earlier in the year on Xbox Live Arcade, the last three episodes in the adventures were only just recently released. And although these ports of the PC adventure titles are far from perfect, they have enough to make them well worth recommending.
The art style resembles that of the Wallace & Gromit shorts (and feature films), and you can even seen fingerprints on the characters, representing the “clay animation” in games at its best. The gameplay style is very familiar, for those who have played previous Telltale adventures such as the Sam & Max episodes, or even the recently-released Tales of Monkey Island games. And this slow paced, yet very humor-based style of gameplay is best suited to the world of Wallace & Gromit.
The story of all three of these episodes is not that connected, aside from a few references here and there. The third episode, Muzzled!, has an ending that is connecting with part of the fourth, The Bogey Man, but you do not need to play them in any particular order. Each episode follows Wallace & Gromit as they try to solve what may seem like an ordinary problem.
The second episode, The Last Resort, has Wallace and Gromit trying to create a little resort in their own basement after bad weather cancels their own resort plans. The overall story is a bit weak, as there seems to be no clear focus for the plot. From each chapter in the adventure, the story jumps around quite frequently, when it seems like it would stay on one specific path. However, it is quite hilarious at times, and the puzzles themselves are well designed.
The third episode, Muzzled!, is easily the weakest of the bunch. Wallace and Gromit meet a strange man, Monty Muzzle, who comes to town to help raise money to save the now destroyed dog shelter. The majority of the adventure has you playing as Gromit as you try and prove that Monty is not all he seems to be. This episode has some very intriguing puzzles and a more straightforward story, but seems to lack the humor that the previous episode had.
And then there is the best (and final) episode, The Bogey Man, which has Wallace trying to find the missing deed to an old golf club, Prickly Thicket. This is the best of the four simply because it has some of the best laughs, the cleverest puzzles, and the best interactions between all of the characters. Although the story is not as focused as in Muzzled!, it definitely seems to never go too far from where you would expect.
The main problem with the Xbox Live Arcade versions of these episodes is that there is constant slowdown, graphical hiccups, and even some freezes that I’ve experienced with all three episodes. They are not noticeable in the PC versions, but it becomes clear that the XBLA version are probably not the ones to get if you have a good enough gaming PC.
Overall, these three episodes are consistently funny (for the most part), have plenty of genius puzzles and re-introduce these amazing characters to old and new audiences alike. Even if you are not familiar with Wallace & Gromit, these adventures might make new fans out of you.
ESRB: Rated E for everyone; these games are pretty much for all ages
Pros: Gameplay is simple enough for all ages; excellent puzzles; generally very funny
Cons: Constant game freezes and glitches; the second episode has a less focused story; the third episode does not have the same consistent level of humor as the other two