Lego Harry Potter: First Impressions

Lego Harry Potter

It all started with Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy back in 2006. It was the best family game I had ever purchased for the PC. (I later found out that Lego Star Wars: The Video Game came out a year prior).  I had two kids still not potty trained and another starting first grade.  But they were becoming proficient at using the computer.  I was the computer support tech for the entire family.  If I had a dollar for every “Daddy, can you help me with the computer” line I would be rich.

The kids played video games from CDs or kid websites that I authorize them to play on sites such as Nick Jr or Disney Channel. Even though they were proficient at using the computer, there were many times where they needed help with the game software.  It was time to find a fun game that was easy to play so that they would not bother Daddy all the time.  Lego Star Wars II was perfect.  Since then, I have purchased every Lego video games but for the Nintendo Wii platform only.  Lego Harry Potter: Years 1 to 4 is the latest.

I got the game for the kids for Christmas but they were too busy with other presents to try it.  It was up to me to see what it was like.

Like the previous Lego video games such as Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the Wii, the controls are basically the same.  You need a nunchuk in addition to the remote in order to play. 

The game is broken up into Years 1 through 4.  Each year has 6 levels. Each level has 3 to 4 areas. There are plenty of places to explore.  Once you’ve finished the game you have to redo each levels in freeplay mode to find more items, characters, and do other mini-quests such as saving “a student in peril” in many levels.  Finding all the goodies opens up bonus levels.

There is additional complexity to the controls but it is not too bad.  The characters will have spells that you can select.  You will get a few basic spells in the first few levels. As you continue on through the game, more spells get added.  In the normal (non-free play) game, you can just click on the “1” or “2” button to choose a different spell.  You can’t do this in free play because in free play, these buttons are needed to change characters.

In freeplay, you have to press the “C” button which shows you a circle on the screen on the upper left or right, depending on player one or player two.  The circle has 8 round icons around this circle representing a different spell.  Use the nunchuck stick to select an icon.  The round icon will be empty if there are no spells in this space.  Five or six spells seems plenty and you can keep adding spells until you have 8.  It is possible to have more than 8.  When this happens, one of the icons of the spell can by cycled with the nunchuck stick.  This is when using spells can be tricky but so far, you can get away by just using six basic spells.

The very first level, is “The Magic Begins” in Year 1 and you keep going in succession.  The first area in this level is the Leaky Cauldron.   This is an important level for any Lego video game novice or veteran because it is a tutorial on how to use the controls and how to use the basic spell Wingardium Leviosa, which levitates, moves, builds, and breaks things.  It is like using the Force in Lego Star Wars.  You start with the characters Hagrid and Harry.  Harry is pretty useless at this level because he doesn’t have a wand yet.  You use Hagrid to do all the magical stuff.

The game is just as challenging as the previous.  My 6 year old is able to get through a chapter without my help for the most part.  There were some chapters that baffled me.  Thank goodness for the internet.  The walkthroughs are available in case you get stuck.  Mycheats.com and Mahalo.com have decent help.  Mahalo’s guide has video, images, and text.  The video doesn’t show the Wii version but it is close enough.

There are things about the game that can drive you mad.  There are many areas where you build some kind of ramp or bridge to get across a gap or move to higher ground.  The building blocks are like large pieces from the “Tetris” video games.  These objects are just too darn hard to manipulate with the Wii controls.  Selecting the objects is challenging enough.  If there are two players or other objects in the game close to the blocks, it is hard to get a lock on the selection.  The other player and the game objects interfere with grabbing and moving the large bricks. 

I later found out that it is not necessary to build the ramp or bridge completely.  You can get away by putting two pieces on top of another to move your character across an opening in the ground or up another floor.

Another problem was completing a level.  In one area with a frozen lake, Death Eaters were suppose to attack Harry so that Harry can wipe them out with the wand and move on the next area within the level.  For some reason, they would not come out.  There was a bug in the programming.  I later restarted the level from the beginning and the area in the level played out like is was suppose to.

The worst problem was trying to destroy these blue pixies who were hanging on to a moving tree in the forest.  The spell that freezes and destroys the pixies would not lock on to these targets.  It took maybe an hour when the process could have taken a few seconds.  There was too many things in the game that interfered with the spell from zeroing on the pixies.  Trying different angles to get a lock was one way to overcome this.

Despite these “features” I’ve mentioned, the game is still fun.  I’ve finished the main story but in order to finish the other quests you have to repeat the game in freeplay.  Collecting characters in freeplay is not as interesting as Star Wars.  All the characters in Lego Harry Potter look the same.  For example, you have Harry Potter basic, Harry Potter with a red shirt, Harry Potter in a tux, Harry Potter in robe, Harry Potter in pajamas.  You get the hint?  In Lego Star Wars, you can differentiate between a diversity of unique characters such as heroes, villains, aliens, and robots.

If I had to rank Lego Harry Potter for the Wii, I would give it a 9 out of 10.  Ten is the highest rating. 

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