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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Griptonite Games
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

I could probably start off with one of those synopses about how successful Harry Potter is - yada yada yada. But, I think we have had that crammed down our collective throat enough already and I'll spare you the diatribe.

Harry Potter definitely hits the spot graphically. Each of the characters is very well animated, especially in the spell learning sequences. While it was great to see, it does end up getting in the way early in the game. For example, while casting the 'Flipendo' spell (which is your main offensive spell), the casting animation takes so long that it is not uncommon for the enemy you are casting at to get in a quick, cheap shot. I also found the environments to be lacking as well - mostly in variety. There is no denying they look great, but after awhile all of the dungeons begin to look the same.

Using sound tools from Factor 5, the developers were able to squeeze the most out of the GBA sound hardware. While I would have enjoyed hearing some music tracks from the movie, what's here is very enjoyable and always blends in with the action on the screen. The voice samples are good, so good in fact that I found myself switching spells just so I could hear the spell names.


Gameplay:

The first day of school is tough, but think how it would be if instead of English and Social Studies you had to learn Incantations and Transmutation. The game begins with Harry gaining admission to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Over the course of the game you will help Harry complete his schoolwork (trust me, it is more fun than it sounds), play the wizard's sport of Quidditch and foil the plot of the evil wizard Voldemort.

As you would expect, the plot pretty much follows the book and movie as closely as possible. The troll invasion, house points, it is all in here. Trying to define this game is difficult. Take the exploration and puzzles of The Legend of Zelda, the stealth action of Metal Gear, and mix in a game of Simon Says and this is what you get. At first it sounds like adding all of these aspects together is a train wreck waiting to happen, but that is not the case. Instead, it translates into one enjoyable game.


Difficulty:

If there is one aspect about Harry Potter that bothers me, it is the difficulty level. This is a challenging game - there is no doubt about it. The thing is, most of what makes it difficult is not a boss (although the troll will give you a headache) or a puzzle, but just flawed game design. I have already mentioned how the animation gets in the way of effective spell casting, but that's not the frustrating part. I also felt the developers went a little overboard with the bottomless pits, especially since Harry cannot jump. Starting somewhere around the middle of the game, about a third of every dungeon is made up of pit traps. Things get a little more annoying when trying to move from platform to platform over these chasms and you end up falling through the tiniest of cracks.

Game Mechanics:

Control is kept simple and easy to use. Casting spells is as easy as pressing two buttons; one to select it and the other to cast. I did have a bit of a problem with the flute playing segments of the game since you have to hold the L button and move around with the D-pad. Of course, a lot of this is due to the size of the GBA and this is only two short segments of the game anyway.

Before playing this game, I had no previous experience with Harry Potter. I had never read any of the books, or seen the movie and I still found the game very enjoyable. However, playing through the game got me interested enough to read the book and see the movie - so I could only imagine how much fun a long time fan would have with the game. It may be a little difficult, but overall Harry Potter is a very good adventure game and worth playing.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Nintendo GameBoy Advance F-14 Tomcat Nintendo GameBoy Advance High Heat Major League Baseball 2002

 
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