Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Minimum requirements: Windows XP/Vista (Vista 64-bit unsupported); 2.0 GHz or better processor; 512 MB RAM; 64-MB DirectX 8.1-compliant video card; DirectX 8.1 sound device; DirectX Version 9.0c or better
Release Date: Available now
Review by: Marcus Spears
I grew up at the time when the adventure genre was in its heyday. I cut my teeth on games such as Nocturne, the Gabriel Knight series, and of course Maniac Mansion and all the other great LucasArts adventures. In those days, rarely did a month go by when you didn’t add at least one new story to your collection. In the last few years, pickings have been much slimmer; most of the new offerings haven’t captured my attention or interest the way the old classics did. But I’m happy to say, I have now found a suitable successor to those games of yore: the four episodes of Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures.
Muzzled! and The Bogey Man are the final two chapters in this four-part series. Each is an independent story in its own right. The characters you meet during the course of the games occasionally make reference to events that happened in the earlier episodes, providing a feeling of continuity through the whole series.
In Muzzled!, a fire has destroyed the pet orphanage, and something fishy is going on at the carnival being held as a fundraiser. It’s up our favorite inventor Wallace and his faithful canine sidekick Gromit to find out what’s what. This leads to The Bogey Man, the final story of the series, in which yet another calamity strikes our clever protagonist. Wallace has found a lost nut (the kind that you tighten with a wrench, not the kind you eat). He kneels down to pick it up, and in an epic example of bad timing, his next-door neighbor thinks the nut is a ring and his posture a proposal. It’s up to Gromit to solve this dilemma and get Wallace out of his impending matrimonial disaster.
One advantage of the episodic format is that the games take much less time to set up than others do. This is because each episode is only a few hundred megabytes in size, instead of several gigabytes. Configuration is equally quick; on one page, you can set the volume, turn captioning on or off and set how frequently hints are offered. On the other, you can set the monitor resolution and the level of graphics detail (from 1 to 9). If I have any complaints, it’s that I wasn’t able to find any information that tells me what graphics features are activated at each detail level. This is a fairly insignificant problem, though, since the games ran perfectly well on a computer that barely exceeds the minimum requirements, with the graphics settings at maximum.
The game interface is equally easy to use. When you move the mouse over something that you can use or examine, the item is bracketed and the action that will be taken is clearly displayed in the upper-right corner of the screen. Holding down the Tab key reveals all selectable objects that are on-screen. The game can be controlled entirely with the mouse, but there are also keyboard controls suitable for lefties or righties. The stories are excellent, though short (something common to all episodic games), and there is no way to die or to get a bad ending; with enough persistence, anyone can win.
Telltale Games once again has a hit on their hands. I plan to buy the compilation disc with all four episodes as soon as I can afford it. Muzzled! and The Bogey Man are easy to install, easy to configure, easy to play, have a great sense of humor all the way through, and have stories that are kid-friendly. They are a worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection, regardless of age group.
For Wallace and Gromit: Muzzled!:
For Wallace and Gromit: The Bogey Man: