Wallace and Gromit are a British stop-motion clay duo who have starred in numerous film shorts, a full length feature film, a few video games, and who have quite a following. Without spending too much time describing them, they are very funny, and if you haven’t seen their films, I highly recommend that you do. Their comedic style is very light and highly accessible.
Recently an episodic series of games starring Wallace and Gromit were released by Telltale Games. Though Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures (WGGA) aren’t the first games starring the inventor and his dog side-kick.
Two other games, Wallace and Gromit: Project Zoo and Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit were released in 2003 and 2005 respectively on the various consoles of that generation. I hadn’t played them and while making the decision to write about the newer games I felt it would be irresponsible to not talk about the older ones as well. Especially once I saw that I could get them for a combined $10 (including shipping) on Ebay.
As for Wallace and Gromit: Project Zoo, thank goodness it was so cheap. It’s a very poor platformer. You play as Gromit and run around collecting nuts and bolts in an attempt to stop the evil penguin (long time W&G nemesis) from taking over a zoo. Wallace exists in an auxiliary role and fixes broken machinery providing that you’ve collected enough nuts. There are many things wrong about this game. First, Gromit runs around on two legs – wrong, just wrong. Second, there’s not much about it that ties the game to the characters themselves. There’s none of the typical Wallace and Gromit humor nor much character dialogue. You could completely replace Wallace and Gromit with some random characters and it wouldn’t change the game. To make matters worse, it’s a terrible platformer. Leaping from ledge to ledge is frustrating and often impossible to gauge with the game’s 3-D environment.
Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, another platformer, is a lot more fun to play. With complete cut scenes and fully realized dialogue, the game does a good job of capturing the flavor of the two characters and their world. Based off of the full length feature film it follows the same plot with a few tweaks to make a game out of it. Wallace and Gromit, operating a pest control business, are dashing around town trying to keep the town’s residents from being overrun by rabbits. Curse of the Were-Rabbit is essentially a collection of mini-games, as you are assigned different quests by the townsfolk. You can switch between controlling Wallace and Gromit at any time and two players can even play cooperatively. The game wears a little thin after a while as not many of the quests are particularly satisfying but many of its basic mechanics, including the vacuum guns the duo wield, provide some short term hilarity.
Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures are how video games with the pair should be done. They’re adventure games through and through. You wander Wallace and Gromit’s home and the surrounding neighborhood collecting items and interacting with the townsfolk to try and solve problems. WGGA is full of the humor I love about the series and is very dialogue heavy (so much so that I wouldn’t recommend playing unless you’re a fan of the films and don’t mind games with a lot of cut scenes).
There are four episodes total. I really liked the format of breaking the game up in that fashion since it allowed the developers to create four completely different stories. With different writers for each episode, they had their own styles. I found that the episode The Last Resort featured the townsfolk a bit too heavily – they’re funny in their own right but I’m playing the game for Wallace and Gromit. Muzzled is my favorite for that reason – the townsfolk are there but the game is centered mostly on the duo.
While WGGA doesn’t have a ton of puzzles, its stories are so well done it doesn’t matter. The puzzles in the game are challenging but never overly so. They’re more for advancing the plot rather than being an obstruction. In one episode you’re trying to figure out a way to boost your bees’ honey production by putting together and feeding them a steroid-like concoction – in another, Wallace and Gromit, after starting a beach resort in their basement, are trying to keep the vacationing townsfolk happy.
Mechanically speaking the games are good looking. Telltale Games stuck with the art style of the Wallace and Gromit world. Right down to “thumbprints” in the character models. The games have a few bugs here and there but never anything too catastrophic.
Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures will make any fan happy and perhaps newcomers to West Wallaby Street will enjoy its simple humor as well. They’re not ground breaking adventure games but good clean fun.