A tragedy has occurred
in West Wallaby Street. A dog shelter was destroyed by a storm, releasing
stray packs of pups. They lurk in dark corners, dig in flower beds and
sneak into Wallace and Gromit’s basement. Episode 3 – Muzzled! From
Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures brings us once again to
Lancashire, England, where local townsfolk are busy planning to rebuild
the shelter. What better way to raise money than to hold a carnival,
hosted by the famous Monty Muzzle – a man dedicated to the art of charity
Wallace’s contribution to Monty Muzzle’s
Fundraise-A-Fair is a customized ice cream vending machine with hidden
capabilities: the Swiss army knife equivalent of an ice cream truck.
Starting the truck is difficult, as mischievous pups have stolen two of
the parts. Gromit, of course, is conscripted to retrieve the pilfered
parts while Wallace fiddles with the flavour engraver. Then off to the
“Are you as smart as a chicken?”
Picture colorful booths, each with puzzles/challenges
to solve, while calliope music plays in the background. You “win” at each
booth through a combination of observation, strategy, cooking, flattery,
and a healthy dollop of cheating. Aside from a couple of timed challenges,
the game is relaxing -- almost bucolic -- until the final confrontation
when you find yourself frantically mixing ice cream and falling through
Outside of the carnival booths, most of Muzzled’s
challenges involve employing the inventory and repairing and using
mechanical devices. Also, an “escape the room” sequence taps your
knowledge of animal psychology and behavior. If you are an animal lover
(and, especially, a dog lover) this game should suit you to a tee.
“Your home is as grimy as a manky goat.”
Graphics are in cartoon-like, colorful 3D and they
faithfully recreate the clay Wallace & Gromit world. As in previous
episodes, you’ll visit the shop fronts on West Wallaby Street, as well as
parts of Wallace and Gromit’s home. Animation and overall ambiance are
surprisingly close to that of the animated shorts (though, as far as I
know, no clay was molded in the making of this game). If you are a Wallace
& Gromit fan looking for authenticity, you will definitely find it here.
“Your goiter could be
mistaken for a blubbery whale.”
Absurdly eccentric British characters are a Wallace &
Gromit trademark. Familiar neighbors appear from previous episodes – Major
Crum, who mentally (and emotionally) has never been demobilized; Miss
Flitt, who loves her roses more than she cares for suitors; and Mr. Gabberley, a mouthy crank who enlivens the window above the newsstand.
The voiceovers are excellent; it’s a pleasure just
listening to the dialogs. Subtitles are available and feature unusual
spellings (perhaps to match the unusual pronunciations). Editor’s Note:
I have it on excellent authority that these pronunciations are perfectly
authentic for Lancashire. You can click through conversations if you
A few new characters debut in this episode – two that
are particularly memorable are Monty Muzzle, master of salesmanship; and
Twitch, a pup so traumatized by life that you’ll long to adopt him right
off the screen.
“Your future is as sticky as black pudding.”
This game contains nearly everything Wallace & Gromit
fans could hope for -- clever writing, colorful environments, jazzy music,
varied challenges and a great range of “speaking looks” from Gromit (the
Harpo of our heroic duo who never actually speaks). It installed and ran
beautifully, with only one minor mishap when a foreground inventory item
blocked the goings-on during a cut scene.
Yet, despite the sales skill of Monty Muzzle, the
series at this stage still hasn’t “sold” itself to me as thoroughly as the
Sam & Max adventures had. (Having played other Telltale games and being a
Wallace & Gromit fan for years, my expectations were sky high, of course.)
The Muzzled! gameworld is a trifle restricted. Also, the control
system for the PC version is awkward. You mouse-click on hotspots, but
must maneuver the player character (sometimes Wallace, other times Gromit)
using the keyboard. I never quite got used to this combination and did a
fair amount of clicking in vain at the edge of the screen.
Nevertheless, a strong finish with Episode 4 could
erase these quibbles – and the team at Telltale Games is more than capable
of finishing strongly. I suspect that the overall success of Wallace &
Gromit’s Grand Adventures will rest on how well the season wraps up in
the upcoming final episode: The Bogey Man.
“Will it fry?” (The Quick List)
An eccentric inventor and his hyper-competent pooch
encounter a mystery at a traveling fair. Everything about the game echoes
the aesthetic of the famous Wallace & Gromit animated shorts – that is,
tongue-in-cheek quaintness in clay. Understated humor. Excellent writing
and voiceovers. A goodly amount of character interaction with spunky
neighbors in a town in northern England. (Miss Marple would feel right at
home.) Environments are somewhat limited in scope.
Third person perspective, an interface that combines
direct keyboard control with mouse-clicking on hotspots. A couple of timed
challenges, many inventory puzzles, some dialog and text challenges. No
sliders, mazes, sound or color based puzzles. A good, unobtrusive hint
system. One minor graphical glitch.
Four save (bookmark) slots, plus an autosave feature.
The episode took me about four hours to play through at a leisurely pace.
Aimed at the many fans of Wallace & Gromit, animal
lovers, Anglophiles, tinkerers and closet romantics.
Wallace & Gromit in Muzzled! can be purchased via download at
My Computer Specs:
2.00 GB RAM
Direct X 9.0c
512 MB NVIDIA
GeForce 7800 GTX
SB X-Fi Audio