Cracking disc, Gromit!

CD-Roms: Wallace & Gromit

There is something disconcerting about digitised plasticine. Thinking of the labours of Nick Park, lovingly tweaking his models month after month and filming them frame by frame, it seems disrespectful to submit the same characters to computer animation. Yet there is no doubt that some of the manic humour of the Oscar-winning The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave have survived the transition.

This disc from BBC Multimedia contains everything a Wallace and Gromit fan would expect: techno-trousers screen savers, dog-bone wall paper, evil penguins and a fine variety of silly noises for your PC to make when going about its everyday business. I went originally for Wallace saying: "Well, that went about as well as could be expected," whenever I closed any application, but the novelty soon palled and I switched to a pleasant "baa" from Shaun the sheep, then settled for the lovely Gwendoline saying, "Goodbye, Chuck."

All the nerdy devices come in the Customise-O-Matic section, which is separate from the main game-playing environment. The latter is a little disappointing, with the environment - you choose a game by firing the porridge gun at it - more imaginatively prepared than the games.

There's a selection of quizzes and clips from the films which play very clearly in a large, high-definition window ("Windows are our speciality," says Wallace), and the games themselves, a Great Train Chase, in which you must lay portions of track at a hectic pace in order to let Gromit pursue the Penguin, and a Bungee Window Cleaning game, in which Gromit rubs windows clean with a sponge while the porridge gun dirties them again. Even with the added menace of Preston the dog and a moving water pail, however, this, like the Train Race, becomes more a question of practice and manual dexterity than decision-making and strategic thinking.

Summary: graphics, excellent; humour, good; games, average. It has enough to make it irresistible, although the attraction is liable to fade after a few weeks. Whenever the porridge machine has dirtied all the windows, Gromit hangs listlessly in front of the windows, upside down with his hands folded and the voice of Peter Sallis as Wallace announces: "The bounce has gone out of his bungee." Repeated playing of the game will probably lead to much the same sensation n

Wallace & Gromit Funpack, pounds 19.99 (Pinnacle Software, 01322 665652). System requirements: 486/ 50Mhz multimedia PC or 8mb RAM, 2xCD-Rom drive, 16-bit (64k) colour display, Windows 3.1 or later or Windows 95.

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