LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
Warner Bros. Entertainment
Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad.
Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
Age Rating: 9+
This month, Harry Potter fans around the world are donning their robes and lightening bolt-shaped scars to catch the latest Harry Potter film. With only one more film left in the franchise, fans are bound to start looking elsewhere for a wizard fix. Luckily, Warner Bros has an entertaining alternative: Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is an iPhone action game that’s based on the first four installations of J.K. Rowling’s series.
As with other games in the Lego series, Harry Potter and his friends are played by small Lego recreations of themselves. In the game, you play through four chapters (each modelled after one of the first four book titles) that end in a boss battle with Lord Voldemort himself. While you start of playing as Harry, you can unlock up to 100 characters to control through the course of the game. Using intuitive touch controls, players must lead the characters through memorable scenes from the story, completing challenges and mini games along the way.
The 3D scenes in the game are beautiful. From the deep halls of Hogwarts to the winding cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley, the developers of Lego Harry Potter inserted a ton of detail into the settings. Many memorable components of the books (such as paintings that come to life and hidden doorways) are featured. These are pivotal to creating the magical environment, which makes it easy to get lost in the world of the game and enjoy yourself.
I wish the action of the game was as impressive as its aesthetics. The majority of time spent running back and forth completing marginally interesting tasks. A good portion of each level is consumed with searching for potion ingredients, or trying to sneak past professors without being caught. While the game becomes more challenging the longer you play, a little more variety would have been appreciated.
Still, the game is not without its entertaining points. Casting spells is fun and it’s used throughout the game. Spells are unlocked along the way and also revealed in a tutorial in one of the Hogwarts classrooms. Performing magic involves tapping an item you want to levitate, set ablaze, etc., and tracing a shape on the screen. Spells range from easy-to-draw shapes like a circle, to more complex ones like transfiguration (performed with a swirl shape).
All in all, Lego Harry Potter is entertaining but not particularly challenging. The game is very forgiving of mistakes, and meeting your end in a wizarding duel or other hazard doesn’t ever result in a game over, but rather a brief reset of the spot you’re at in the game. I found myself less enthusiastic about running through the halls of Hogwarts at night, and more interested in seeing the Lego recreations of the characters play out scenes from the books. The only thing better than how nice the cut scenes look is how cute the characters are trying to emote without using words (Legos can’t talk). Suffice it to say that watching the figurines fly about, cast spells, and fret about their potions homework is ridiculously adorable.