The Harry Potter Lego games are among my favourites of the Lego games. I especially like the Xbox 360 versions, as they are incredibly extensive and will cost you many, many hours of your life. For those looking for a more casual experience of Lego Hary Potter I can only recommend Lego Harry Potter Years 1 – 4 for Nintendo DS. One of the best features of this game: it’s using the DS‘ full potential and that makes it very interactive.
In general handheld versions of games are usually boiled down lookalikes of their home console counterpart. Not in this case. Lego Harry Potter Years 1 – 4 makes full use of the unique functionalities of the DS. Eveything could be played with the touchscreen (I think). You can change between characters, move and more importantly cast spells with the touchpen. As you have to draw certain shapes for the spells or solve simple puzzles, the touchscreen becomes more than an optional enhanced menu screen. It becomes the heart of the game.
As in every Lego game a host of characters is available to unlock and buy. This game won’t give you any usual Lego studs trouble either. If you get a multiplier early on in the game and keep looking for the other ones you will soon find that inflation has come right into the very heart of Lego Hogwarts. No seriously, you end up with a gazillion studs. But I can’t resist collecting them, as the little clicking sound is so very addictive!
The graphics are not the game’s strong point. The cut scenes are quite pixelated and the actual in-game graphics could be mistaken for Game Boy Advance era. That does not matter, though, as the game is thoroughly enjoyable anyway. And I love my old Game Boy Advance games, despite non-HD graphics. I just thought I‘d mention it, as the console version of Lego Harry Potter is on a quite different level.
One thing I did miss, though, was the ability to jump. I just feel restricted in my motions, somehow. Another nitpicking point might be that the quests are not all in the same style. No, I don’t want repetetive quests, but it is always good for the player to know what they need to do to finish the level. Usually this game tells you in in „freeze“ moments what you have to do next and that is what you start to rely on. There were two quests though for example, in which you had to talk to people. That was quite a new concept in the game and came in very late, so it really got me stuck until I realised I actually needed to talk to NPCs.
Some secrets are very random as well. It’s fine in the Xbox version, because you know it will be randon and hidden somewhere in the large world, but the DS game gives you all collectables fairly easily and obviously – except now and again and it will take quite some time to figure out where that extra Golden Hat or Character Token is hiding.
All in all, even though I seem to be complaining quite a bit, Lego Harry Potter Years 1 – 4 is a beautiful example of a Nintendo DS game doing (almost) everything right. It takes around 15 hours (plus minus 5 hours) to complete the 100% and thus it will be an enjoyable casual game for Harry Potter and Lego fans alike. Hours of fun, but not endless – so you can get on with your life (I am a seriously stricken and traumatised Xbox Lego games player 🙂 )!
PS: In the next few weeks/months I will be posting quite a few Harry Potter related posts, as I will be rereading and rewatching the books and films. You have been warned 🙂