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Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Griptonite Games
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

As this version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is for the Gameboy Color, the graphics are not as snappy as other versions of the title. Even so, the environments tend to be quite well-detailed, drawn in the standard 2D format of most RPGs. Harry himself is quite recognizable, as are certain other characters (Hagrid comes to mind, because of his size), but the small screen and lack of detail makes it hard to tell everyone else apart. The battles take place in the standard 'sideways' locations; the enemies range from undiscernable--is that a rat or a slug or what?--to the sharp. Bosses are larger, and as such tend to be more detailed.

The game's music is solid, if repetitive, and I didn't find myself turning it down, which is rare for GBC games. The sound effects are fairly standard, with 'whizzy' effects for the spells and the like; there's nothing here that'll impress you aurally, but the Gameboy platform is not known for its solid sound quality.


Of the various iterations of Harry Potter that have been churned out to match the movie, the Game Boy Color version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone has struck me as one of the best. That doesn't mean that the game is great--it suffers from a very poor magic selection method, a high-for-the-target-audience difficulty level, and more repetition than the standard RPG--but it wasn't a chore to play, which is more than I can say about the PC version.

For those of you unaware of the plot, the condensed version is: Harry Potter learns he's a wizard, goes to school, things happen. The game itself doesn't give much in the way of backstory, but it's a fair assumption that anyone playing this game will know enough about the setting to not really need it. You'll parade around as Harry Potter, finding your classes and fighting the bad guys and doing the sorts of things that RPGs have you do.

For all of its setting, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is a fairly standard RPG. Harry has two major abilities in the turn-based battles; he can cast spells, which use up magic points, and he can do card combos, which use up collectible Wizard Cards. The spells are gained throughout the course of the game, and casting a lot of a particular flavour of magic will teach you higher level versions of that spell, which do more damage but cost more to cast. The card combos, on the other hand, can do all sorts of different things, but getting the cards can be a challenge and you have to learn the combinations.

Instead of having lots of treasure chests lying around, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone has you searching just about every object in the game. You'll find cards and combinations this way, so it's just about required. It's a mixed blessing; on the one hand, it's more realistic than treasure chests lying around in plain sight; on the other hand, it makes searching rooms that much more annoying, especially when you're trying to dodge the little storm clouds that represent enemy battles.

The game also sports a number of mini-games, which are mostly simplistic affairs. There's the struggle for the House Cup, which you can check in the hourglasses in front of the Great Hall. But perhaps the greatest success of this GBC version of the game is the sense of Hogwarts as a location. You're free to roam around a lot in the game, and it's easy to forget where you're going, but the large number of rooms gives a sense of location that the PC game did not.

Unfortunately, the actual experience tends to be a little too repetitive; running back and forth, dodging enemies, leveling. The plot's there, but it's not nearly as well presented as the movie or the book, and it feels more tacked on. That's not to say that the game doesn't feel Harry Potterish, because it does. It just doesn't present the characters and events as well as it should have. Add in the fact that many useful spell combinations are just lying about, hidden unless you click their specific locations, and you can have a frustrating experience on your hands.


I was surprised to find that Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is quite a challenging little RPG. Managing your spell points is always necessary, and unnecessary use of your Wizard cards can spell defeat. First-time RPGers may find themselves floundering a bit at certain locations in the game; leveling up is definitely a necessary experience, which is somewhat disappointing. I can see the younger set getting frustrated with having to waste time fighting enemies in between the sections of the game.

Game Mechanics:

You move Harry around with the D-Pad, and in battles you pick items from the menu and execute them with the buttons. It's a simple control scheme, but unfortunately it lacks the depth of use that would have made the game more enjoyable. For example, the spell list only shows three spells at once, which means that later in the game you have to scroll down, down, down to get to the one you want to cast. A better option would have been to have the spells set up in some sort of ring, and then once the spell is chosen a level of casting could be picked. This would normally be a minor nitpick, but because battles are so integral to the game and spellcasting is Harry's primary ability, it grows quickly wearisome. And while the constant discovery of new cards and combinations by clicking on the environment delights the explorer in me, it also worries me when it comes to gamers who are less completist. I do appreciate the 'save anywhere' feature, though.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone for the GBC is a decent little RPG. It's not by any stretch the best one I've played on the system--even the ancient Final Fantasy Legend games have a lot more panache than this one--but kids who are into Harry Potter could definitely do much worse. Despite the game's shortcomings, you can see that the developers had an appreciation for source material, which is nice. I would really like to see a properly executed Harry Potter RPG for the PS2, with nice graphics and the same sort of free-roaming abilities presented here; until then, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone is a pleasant enough romp for the enthusiast. Those who enjoy the genre but are not into the tale of The Boy Who Lived would be wise to look elsewhere for enjoyment, though.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

GameBoy Color/Pocket Dragon Warrior III GameBoy Color/Pocket Magi-Nation

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated