Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Review


It’s been quite a long time since I could say that a Harry Potter game was pretty good but this one finally did it. It solved all of the big issues I had with the last few games like increasing movement speed, finetuning the battle controls, and actually having a sensible plot. There are still many things keeping this from being a Great game, but I would say it got everything I needed to at least call it pretty good.

With Voldemort approaching more and more, Harry and Dumbledore need to find out where he hid the pieces of his soul. Harry will need to question one of the teachers since they had a history. Additionally, Harry has found a spellbook that seems to have the answer to everything. Is there something shady about this book and is it ethical to use this to ace classes? Those are just some of the questions that Harry will have to answer as he goes through his next adventure.

So lets jump right to the gameplay. There are a few different variations here. The main one here is about running through the castle to get to where you need to be. Unlike the other games where this took eons, you can run anywhere very quickly. You also have an interactive ghost who you can follow to automatically get to the next area instead of having to open a map each time. This was an excellent quality of life update. You also get to shake objects to grab extra crests which power up your moves. I’ll admit that this is the weakest aspect of the gameplay. What should be easy to do is grabbing a shield out of the air but it takes a lot of trial and error.

That said, at times you’ll wonder why you are always running around. I do think there has to be a way for the game to make you feel like there’s more of a purpose to this. Maybe just give you the broom full time so you can fly around or something. Otherwise, you are technically running through the same walls and rooms over and over again which is a bit repetitive. The increased speed and the short length of the game means that this doesn’t really drag on or anything…but it still just feels a bit aimless at times.

The next gameplay style is making potions using the pot. I’ll admit this does take some decent skill after a point since the game punishes you very hard for making even a single mistake. That said, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quick. Just know that the game controls are incredibly sensitive so a single movement can have more impact than you might have thought at first glance. The weakest style is Quidditch. It’s a shame because I usually look forward to that style but it’s just rather boring. The only thing you can do is move the control stick as you fly through the rings. That’s it. You can’t go slower or faster so the game is practically on auto pilot.

The best gameplay style is the combat. You get into a lot of one on one duels. Here you fight the opponents with magical spells such as a quick blast, barrier, spell that turns you upside down, and a spell that knocks you to the ground. You have to think carefully about which spell to use and when. Personally I say it’s always worth it to use the last two spells because you can then spam your blasts as they try to get up or back down and it deals a ton of damage. The combat is a little simple but with the ability to dodge and run, I would say it felt pretty balanced. It was a lot more fun than you would initially have expected and it’s an improvement over the last title’s combat system.

The graphics are definitely still sub par though. This really feels like the same animations from the last game so not a lot has changed. Same for the gameplay graphics so it’s clear that no extra development time is going here. If that all went into the gameplay then it was worth it but surely the game could have looked a little better than this if the developers went all out. At least the soundtrack is really solid as always, I’d expect no less.

The game is very short though. You should have this completed in around 5 hours or so. After that, then I suppose you can try to get all of the trophies and crests. That should buy you some time. I wouldn’t say it will buy you a ton of time or anything like that, but enough to help you justify the cost. Play through all the challenges and you’ll feel better. This game can be a little overpriced nowadays so if it’s 30 or more then it could be a tough sell. It’s fun, just short so that’s something to keep in mind.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better Harry Potter games. I feel like the series has finally started to find its roots again. Bringing back the magical platforming and fighting combat while sprucing them up is the way to go about things. I would definitely say the biggest thing the game needs to fix next is Quidditch though. I didn’t think you could make the gameplay for such a high energy sport boring but this game managed to pull it off somehow. It’s actually a little impressive, in a sad kind of way. If you like the Harry Potter series then you should definitely enjoy this. This could be the last Harry Potter game I play for a while but it’s been a good run.

Overall 7/10

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Stats and Records

Stats time!

Total Game Completed 49%
Total Discovery Points 630/4360
Portrait Passwords 16%
Ghosts 2/4
Flying Creatures 4/5
Characters Met 57/58
Chess Players beaten 0/3
Exploding Snap players beaten 1/2
Gobstones Players Beaten 0/4
Luna’s belongings found 0/5
Fred and George Packages 2/12
Chess statues 1/12
Wizard Plaques 0/15
Animal Footprints 3/3
Teacher Mini Quests 0/4
Top Grade 0/3
Defensive Spells in 1 encounter 5/6
Tidied up Hogwarts 6/66
Hogwart Insignias 4/12

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Review


So far the Harry Potter games had actually been pretty decent. Unfortunately this one definitely broke the trend. This was just a bad game to be honest. The worst decision the developers made was to make this a forced collectathon game where you have to go back to the same levels over and over to collect more shields. Not only is the gameplay not all that much fun but the story is also the weakest in the franchise. When you mix that all together you definitely don’t have a winning formula at the ready.

You would have absolutely no idea what the story is if you just go through the game though. All you have for the plot here are some disjointed story cutscenes and that’s it. Roughly you’re finding an egg, completing 3 challenges and then taking on Voldemort. It’s too bad because otherwise you could have built up to the big battle gradually. It’s just hard to believe that the game has fallen so far compared to the previous ones. Still, at this point you get that I preferred the originals so I won’t compare them much going forward. Lets just talk about the Goblet of Fire on its own.

The gameplay is 3D style as you go through the levels and have to obtain Shields. A Shield is either hidden behind some obstacles or awarded after defeating a boss. Each level has a certain amount of shields but the game doesn’t tell you how many, nor does the level itself give you an indication of how many are left. There are 10 mini shields in each level as well and once you grab all 10 then you will be able to get another full sized shield. Another thing worth mentioning here is that you won’t be able to get all of the shields initially since you don’t learn the tree spell until later. So get ready to have to revisit the levels again.

There’s only around 10 levels but there are 38 shields so you have to replay each level quite a few times. I completed the game with 29 shields so you don’t need all of them but the game does make sure you at least have most of them. You have two main attack spells to deal with the enemies that show up. Pressing the A button will launch your offensive spell which works on just about everyone. Then you have your levitation spell with the B Button that you can use to raise your opponents while your teammates blast them or you can move obstacles out of the way in the game.

I haven’t mentioned yet but this game is a team styled game much like Sonic Heroes. There are always 3 of you running around in the game and the other two are controlled by A.I. if you are playing solo. They aren’t the brightest A.I. though and often times they will get stuck so you have to find them or just run far enough and they’ll magically catch up. A lot of obstacles require at least two people to levitate so you have to hope that they get the picture pretty quick.

While I wouldn’t say the gameplay itself is very bad, the computers do drain on you after a while. Additionally some of the level designs aren’t great so it feels tedious going through the same rooms over and over again. A lot of the enemy spawns never actually end so your best bet is to find an opening to run forward but often times this just means you are going to have to eat a whole lot of hits before you can actually get to safety which isn’t exactly fun. The bosses don’t give you much direction either but I won’t say much against them because part of me was impressed that there were bosses and you can still figure it out before long since there aren’t a lot of controls.

Get ready to hear the characters talking a lot though. While not as constant as in How to Train Your Dragon 2, they do repeat the same lines over and over again as the game goes on which can get old pretty quickly. You wish they would have a little more restraint with that. The graphics are okay although the cutscenes aren’t as sharp as the older games. The soundtrack is surprisingly good so that’s one positive I can give the game. It has a Star Wars vibe and at least puts some real soul into the tunes. It definitely beats the alternative of having a more robotic feel or uninspiring music. This way you can at least listen to good tunes.

There isn’t much replay value to be found here but I suppose finding all of the shields will have to do. You can also try to unlock extra cards by finding other collectibles and mastering your spells. I ended up getting most of the cards naturally so I don’t think this will take you very long at all. The toughest part about 100% completing this game is probably going to be getting the shields on the challenge levels. Those levels definitely don’t allow for many mistakes so you will really have to master the style.

Overall, It’s not often that I give a game a score under a 5 because most games are enjoyable in their own way. It takes a lot to be what I consider a “bad’ game but this one would fit the bill. The gameplay just isn’t fun. The levels lose any enjoyment they might have had when you have to play them over and over again. The obstacles don’t save either so you have to keep on performing the same actions each time you enter the level. There was no effort put into the story so the whole experience just isn’t satisfying. The biggest flaw of the game was the collectathon angle but without it, you would have just had a super short game that wasn’t memorable. It would have been preferable to this, but either way this wasn’t close to being a great game. I’m hoping that the next Harry Potter game steps its game up.

Overall 4/10

Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup Review


Quidditch was a lot of fun to play through in the first Harry Potter game so it was fun to see it make a return here. I definitely missed it when the latter games were cutting it out. Of course with a whole game built around this concept that means that you really need to have tight gameplay. Fortunately it is quite good and a lot of fun. I just think the game should have had a bit more of an ending to be honest.

When the game starts you are told to pick a team. I naturally went with Griffindor because you just can’t go wrong with that group right? The first few levels are about taking down all of the other schools. Then you can enter the World Cup where you have to go up against the other countries. Once you’ve done that then you’re done. The game loops for extra matches and you work on getting the rest of the cards. I ended up with 33/104 so I suppose that’s not too bad. It would be nice if the game could save your spot in a tournament though. While you can save your title at almost any time, it always takes you back to the menu when you boot it up again to start a tournament from scratch.

I should quickly talk about the gameplay since Quidditch is a pretty unique sport. So the goal of the game is to pass the ball to your teammates to earn points or to shoot the ball through one of the 3 hoops. Each time you do so you get 10 points. Once the meter is fully charged an event will start where you and the opponent try to grab the Quidditch ball. Whoever grabs it first gets 150 points and then the battle ends. So this keeps the hoops points from being meaningless or anything like that but at the same time the points don’t matter much. I was beating an opponent by around 400 before I realized this match wasn’t ending. That’s why scoring shouldn’t be your top concern. It doesn’t build the meter much at all.

The best way to win a match is to use combo passes. Hold down the L button and keep on passing the ball around. This will build the meter very quickly and the more meter you have, the more time you have to boost your broom in the final chase. Be careful about turning the ball over though as that will negate any meter build up you had amassed from the current combo. Clearly there are a lot of variables to consider here and you really want to try and take them all into account. Of course if you want to be really safe you can still score around 200 points so that way even if the other team grabs the Quidditch you would end up winning. You should always be able to grab the Quidditch first though, at least I found that part to be pretty easy.

You also have some special abilities but they aren’t all that necessary. Often times I found it easier to just do a basic tackle with A to knock the ball away then to get into the fancy stuff. For example, if you press B you get a mini cutscene where you take the ball away. Y allows you to gain a quick boost that lets you go forward and there’s X which lets you fire off one of the balls to hit the opponent with. I don’t mind the abilities but in a way they have 0 impact on the game. Whether you use them or ignore them they will not affect the entire match at all in which case I wonder why they are even around. You’ve also got the final smash attacks for a team which give you instant goals but it takes a while to build up enough energy for this. I got to see the computers use it a few times but I never had enough energy for it unfortunately.

The graphics are pretty decent. I wouldn’t say they are anything special but the character designs are on point and the whole thing looks pretty nice. The only time you may have some trouble is with navigating the turns during the final chase but that’s not really a graphics thing so much as it’s just about the gameplay. On the whole I would say the gameplay is pretty legit but those turns are just rough. I wouldn’t say any of the game’s tunes really stood out though.

In terms of length this game will probably last you around 2 hours to beat every opponent I suppose. Outside of that the only replay value is in collecting all of the cards by completing specific challenges. It’s a reasonable incentive to at least add a bit more punch to the usual gameplay but I’m not really sure if that would really be enough to get you back to play a bunch of extra matches once you’ve already won. I feel like it would be a hard sell at least.

So the game is pretty fun but I do have to emphasize that it is just very short. You need to make sure that you pick it up at a good price or you may end up with a few regrets there. There is multiplayer mode as well though which should also increase the replay value. As long as you find the gameplay fun then I suppose that’s really the most important thing here.

Overall, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is a pretty fun spinoff. It’s nice that this sport got an entire video game to itself even though the sport itself does not yet exist. It just makes for a very original game. A bit of a story mode would have been nice but I suppose it’s not something that would have been expected. Hopefully the new PS5 Harry Potter game coming out will include some Quidditch gameplay as well. I look forward to seeing how it looks with the modern technology backing it up.

Overall 7/10

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Review


Now it’s time to look at the Prisoner of Azkaban. This Harry Potter game changes things up quite a bit from the first two. For starters the animation has changed entirely. The same is true for the voices and even the gameplay is a bit different. This one is going for more of a teamwork angle sort of like Sonic Heroes. Unfortunately this is easily the weakest Harry Potter game. It feels the last story based as the game spams you with dungeons and the gameplay isn’t nearly as smooth. Still, a decent game but not on the same level as the others.

Harry is back in Hogwarts and he is determined to have a good time. He’s an expert Quidditch player after all and his friend Hagrid is finally getting to teach a class. Everything is going well until Draco spreads word around that Hagrid’s pet is dangerous. Now the pet is slated to be executed and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop this. Harry and his friends will have to think fast in order to stop this. Meanwhile they have to go through a bunch of dungeons in order to earn new spells.

The game is absolutely not playing when it comes to the dungeons. They’re just everywhere and around every corner. No matter where you look there are more dungeons at the ready. Each one has a bunch of puzzles so the game was really trying to channel its inner Legend of Zelda. It’s certainly a worthy attempt I will grant them that. The puzzles aren’t all that bad but it just feels like the game is stalling quite a lot. You go large portions of the game without a lot of big story developments and then suddenly the narrator will show up and fast forward the story for you. A lot of it is told through exposition instead of your actually getting to experience it. In my mind this is definitely a mistake.

Unfortunately the controls are back to being very sluggish again as well. They don’t respond to you very well. In particular turning can be quite the challenge. You just don’t go where you want to go which is pretty tough. It’s often easier to run off into the distance and then return because a simple turn is just that broken. Likewise with aiming as you’ll often shoot straight into the dirt instead of at an enemy. Additionally when you defeat an enemy instead of locking onto the next one as you would expect, the character just loses the lock entirely which is pretty unfortunate.

The graphics are a big step down as noted with the animation change earlier. The character designs just aren’t on point now and the whole thing looks pretty low quality. In general this game just feels like it’s a true tie-in as opposed to being a classic platformer that just happens to be based on the movie. There’s a world of difference between the two styles. At the same time it’s not enough for me to call this a bad game. It’s just inconvenient a lot of the time but not bad.

For example, this is the first game where you can play as Hermione and Ron as well. The issue is that doing all 3 characters can still only equip 2 spells and they all know around 4. Most of the spells are unique to each character as well so there’s a lot of switching and pausing going around which means double the interruptions from gameplay. There should be a much more intuitive way to switch out spells than by going through all of these steps. It just doesn’t feel quite right.

The game also adds a lot of new stealth levels to the mix. I think the developers were likely proud of how well it came out with how frequently they appear but it’s not a good match with the dicey gameplay. If the trolls or prefects see you then unlike the last game where you start from the beginning of the room, you’re actually booted out entirely so you have to enter again. Have I mentioned that whenever you enter a room there is a long loading sequence? Each room has to be loaded for some reason. The stealth levels could have been a little better if not for that but it definitely ended up hurting the experience.

In terms of length I would say this game is also around 6-7 hours long. I’m sure you could beat it quicker if you put your mind to it though. For replay value there are some cards to grab I suppose. I think if you get enough of them you may get some extra health but it’s not like it’ll be very useful to you by then since you’ll have already beaten the game. I’ll give this one kudos for actually coming up with a fishing minigame as well. It’s not very fun or anything like that but the more content the better. The team mechanics also could have been fun if they had been smoother. Perhaps upgrading the A.I. so the partners actually follow you without you having to call them at times. Sometimes you have to wait way too long for them to arrive. I got stuck/lost in the courtyard for a super long amount of time before the gang finally caught up to me.

Overall, The Prisoner of Azkaban is more interested in throwing you into long dungeons than actually following the story. The whole thing is really glossed over by the end. Even all of the Quidditch matches are played off screen. I miss being able to just jump on my broom and start giving opponents the work. In this game I’m not able to do so and it just feels like a missed opportunity. I think this game would fare a little better if I didn’t play it immediately after the other two which really highlights how it couldn’t match up. It just really paled in comparison to the last two. They had a lot of heart and great gameplay mechanics at their disposal. This one never really felt natural like that. We’ll see how the Goblet of Fire performs since its turn is quickly closing in.

Overall 6/10

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Review


We continue our Harry Potter marathon with the next game in the series. Chamber of Secrets really takes a lot of what made the first game good and then improves on them. So that’s exactly what you could have hoped for from a sequel. There aren’t any really weak parts to the game although at the same time I wouldn’t say it’s great or anything like that. It’s just a fun follow up to the original. The hub world isn’t quite as large as the first game but is still quite large.

The game starts with Harry having a good time in town as he gets some shopping done before heading back to Hogwarts. As much as things change they also stay the same. Draco Malfoy and the gang keep picking on the weaker mages. The stakes are a little higher this time around as a fabled Chamber of Secrets is somewhere in the school. Harry needs to track it down because in the meantime a monster is on the loose and it may end up murdering a bunch of the students if it isn’t taken care of and fast. Harry will need all of his skills if he is to take this guy down.

It’s a pretty solid story here. The Potter games have been consistent with giving a lot of cutscenes throughout. Just from the games I can quickly remember how much fun Snape is. He certainly gets a bad rap but at least the guy is always around unlike Dumbledore who vanishes when things get tough. The whole twist about Tom Riddle is pretty interesting and he makes for a pretty great character. The guy’s just a lot of fun. Meanwhile Harry and the crew are pretty solid although Ron never tends to grow on me as much as the other two. He needs a little more skill to back up his confidence.

Gameplay-wise this one is pretty basic. You have a few different spells at your disposal and use them in order to take the opponents down or to solve various puzzles. The spells are largely the same as in the first game. You are still only able to equip two at once so get ready to have to pause the game a lot. The save feature is also still manual so just try to remember to save every now and again or you may have to replay large chunks of the game. It’s pretty impressive just how similar to the first game this one is. Even the menus all look very similar. Same with the levels but that makes sense since it is still the same school.

The graphics aren’t bad and look pretty similar to the first game. I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one was better. Th soundtrack is also decent. None of the tunes will stand out in particular but I wouldn’t say they hold the game back either. They have just the right amount of pep to add to the fights. I feel like that describes the game pretty well as a whole. It’s a very standard game that feels like you’re picking up right where the first game left off. There are some improvements like labels on the map so you know where you’re going and the controls themselves are a lot smoother. Those are the two main improvements here and I would have to say that they are fairly key.

The gameplay one alone is really nice to have. In the first game it wasn’t uncommon for you to just fall off of a box or something because the character refused to move in the right direction. That should not happen here. The game isn’t all that long though. You should have it conquered within around 6-7 hours I’d say. Of course if you aim to grab all of the cards then that will probably take you a little longer. There are a bunch of them scattered all throughout the place. The toughest part is that you have no way of knowing which ones you have already collected which naturally makes things pretty tough. Still, it would definitely add a few hours to your overall play time.

Chamber of Secrets does end up hitting you with an extremely easy final boss though. The way to beat it is pretty simple, you just dodge the attacks by moving side to side for a bit, knock it with your main weapon and you’re good to go. Rinse and repeat around 6 times until you claim victory. The main thing that makes this fight pretty easy is just the fact that the way to dodge the boss’ attacks is simply to move from side to side. You don’t even need a true strategy to beat him, that’s really what is pretty crazy about all of this.

The game is fairly light with bosses though. Another fight has you go up against a giant spider but it’s not so much a direct boss as it’s more about you running around to burn all the webbing. That allows you to gain the upper hand and escape. It’s a pretty nice level set up I’d say. The game stays quick paced at all times except for when you have to find some potion ingredients for Professor Snape. That’s when things can get a little tedious as you figure out how to do this. In the third game you would eventually be given pillars of light so you can see the ingredients once you’re within range but there’s nothing like that for this game.

Overall, The Chamber of Secrets is a pretty fun follow up to the first game. It’s been pretty nice to see the old Harry Potter adventures in video game format. You can’t help but feel that the points system is pretty rigged though. No matter what you do you always end up in first place when it comes to total points. That doesn’t seem totally fair or balanced if you think about it. You feel bad for the other groups because it feels like Dumbledore is determined to pick Griffindor no matter what. I suppose our class is the best one though. If you want to play a fun little game on the GCube then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 7/10