9 Nov 2012

Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 DS

European Cover
Platform Reviewed: DS
Publisher: WB Games/ TT Fusion
Year released: 2010

I first played this game on the i-Phone, which is almost an exact copy (or port to use the video game term) of the DS game, but with higher quality graphics, no one but Harry and Weasley twins in the Room of Requirement and different outlines for the spells courtesy of the touch screen. The picture quality of the DS game does improve when you play this game on the 3DS. The dual screen is used really well with the "Marauders Map" style map graphics appear on the top screen with useful information, such as where to go next and how many objects are in that area.
Unusually, this game is not made by Electronic Arts (EA) who have the Harry Potter license but by TT Fusion who have successfully made quite a few Lego based films (Star Wars episodes 1-6, Clone Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Batman). What TT Fusion has done is to include both content from the films and the books and added a bit of Lego humour and adapted everything to Lego. The Harry Potter franchise still comes under WB Games however.

The cut scenes are used sparingly and often lend themselves more from the films than the books, but still include the key events from both. No actual voices are used just sounds, which are adapted to a male or female tone.
Screenshot: Charms Lesson

You start in the Room of Requirement, which has a character creator, objects to practice spells on/ or gain money, which can be used to buy items in Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes shop. The shop contains the cut scenes you have unlocked, handy hints (which are also displayed when you first encounter it in the game), and other useful items . In each level you have the option of collecting 5 yellow Wizard Hats, 2 Chocolate Frog cards (which in turn unlock a character from the first 4 years), and up to a total of 15 red 2x2 bricks (red square with 4 studs on it), which grant you special skills like recharging your hearts or making someone dance! Currency is not the Galleon, Sickle and the Knut, but blue, gold and silver Lego studs respectively.
What is really clever is that each character has special abilities which means you have to play as different characters to complete levels e.g. Professor McGonagall and Herimone have the Time Turner ability, "Big" characters such as Hagrid, Dudley, Crabbe and Goyle, have the strength to move heavy objects, while Harry has ParselTongue, the Patronus Charm and the Invisibility Cloak on his side (but weirdly not Riddiklus- the banishing of Boggarts). Ron and the other characters however fill that gap. Dobby and the Goblins have a special game only they can access, and teachers/ Prefects have one of their own too. Some characters have pets that can find hidden objects in the ground. There are also ghosts to collect in the Chocolate Frog Trading Cards, which allows you to pass through bars to access new areas. This allows the player to collect new abilities on the replay option that becomes available once the level is cleared.

As the game goes on the levels became fewer but longer which is annoying when you have one item to find and gives the feeling of being rushed, but I guess there is so much to do in each episode it would be difficult to condense it. The touch screen is brilliantly used with the spells being drawn out and the option of using the control pad or the stylus to move your character (whomever you choose or make).

You can tell a lot of hard work with excellent attention to detail has gone into making this game, and one hopes that when they release years 5-7 that the same wonderful elements are in it too. My friend and I were discussing the DS game and we agreed on how we would improve it; a Knight Bus level- avoiding the traffic and collect studs/ objects. Or to play a Lego Quidditch match, on control Buckbeak in flight. But this is a really good game, best played on the 3DS as its boosts the picture quality which is the only real sticking point as the game is really good otherwise (this point is moot if played on the i-phone as picture quality is excellent).