LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
LEGO: Just plastic building blocks for kids? Think again. I recall my childhood days of playing with LEGO, but I never had as much fun as I now am having with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 by Warner Bros. Based on the Harry Potter films, this universal game for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad will have you exploring JK Rowling’s Muggle and magical world, casting spells and gathering coins as well as other collectibles. Levels are interspersed with the most brilliant cutscenes, all played out in LEGO style with characters so cute they made me laugh.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, originally released in June for the PSP and Nintendo DS, will have you spending hours on your iDevice adventuring through Harry Potter’s magical LEGO world. While the game is focused mainly on exploring and collecting stuff, you’ll also have a variety of mini-games to play through.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is aptly organized like the chapters within a book, with each year separated into their respective volumes: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. When you first start the game, you’ll be treated to a mini LEGO movie in which a baby Harry is dropped off at his Muggle uncle’s doorstep. The scenes immediately had me grinning and chuckling away. Best of all, these cutscenes continue throughout the game. While the actual game is great fun in itself, I found myself playing on in anticipation of the next cutscene. Pretty amazing seeing how I don’t consider myself a Harry Potter fan.
Just like in the first Harry Potter movie, you’ll start off as Harry in Vernon and Petunia Dursley’s house. Your initial task will be to help Harry’s cousin Dudley find his missing gifts. This introduces you to the basic gameplay elements. To get Harry to move, you have to touch the screen and drag your finger, and he’ll follow you. After you get a wand, you’ll learn to cast spells by tracing various gestures on the screen. You can also play as different characters by either tapping your character or tapping the other character’s icon. Some characters have unique abilities. For instance, Rubeus Hagrid is strong enough to push certain objects. For the most part, the game will give you enough hints for you to accomplish your next course of action. You’ll move through the game following the basic Harry Potter story line, and it is only after you complete each level that your game progress will be saved. At any time, you can revisit a level and also enter a free play mode.
Whenever you quit a game or subsequently start the app, you’ll find yourself in the Room of Requirement, where you’ll have to walk through doors labeled I through IV to access individual levels within each volume. A shop is also available. Here, you can purchase unlocked characters, story sequences, extras in the form of “red bricks” that grant you abilities, and hints. In this same room, you can enter the Character Customizer. Personally, I haven’t found much use for this yet, since I don’t want Harry to look like Ron or vice versa.
Levels have a high replay value, especially since there may be coins or objects out of your reach during initial play. You’ll have to wait till you’ve learned a few more spells or gained certain abilities in subsequent levels before you can return to an earlier level in freeplay mode to acquire previously unattainable objects. Considering this and the number of levels offered within the four volumes, this game could occupy you for long hours, days, or even weeks.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 has superb graphics accompanied by music adapted or taken right out of the films, so you’ll get that whole Harry Potter feel, except in the LEGO way. Animation is smooth, and I must say again, the cutscenes are a hoot. On the iPhone the text menus are rather too small and the lines spaced too closely together for my liking, but so far I’ve not mistakenly made a wrong selection. With respect to the game controls, I would — like many other gamers, it seems — appreciate a virtual joystick option for character movement. While the existing control system works well, the iPhone screen is rather too small and the LEGO world far too gorgeous to be blocked by my finger. A mid-level save would also be another plus. Even so, these niggling “complaints” barely detract from the humongous amount of content the game delivers, not to mention its spectacular entertainment value. As far as I can recall, this is the first and only game to have made me laugh, not once or twice, but too many times to count. Something that amuses me this much is definitely a colossal win.
If you can’t get at certain coins or other objects that appear to be within your reach but aren’t exactly, don’t keep trying like an idiot; you may just have to make a return visit after playing a couple more levels. And should you need to exit the game before completing a level, don’t remove the app from your taskbar. Your game progress will not be saved until you finish each level. This also means you should probably not quit a new level (and return to the Room of Requirement) unless you wish to repeat it.
iPad users take note: This current version of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 will only run on iOS 4.1 and up. It will also only run on third generation iPod Touches and newer. But don’t let this stop you from getting the game if you have an alternative device it’ll work on. Luckily, iOS 4.2.x is just around the corner. I’m waiting eagerly to view this game on the big screen.
If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan and own a compatible device, it will be criminal not to get LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. And even if you’re not a big fan, you’ll be missing out by skipping this. At this present moment, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is available in the App Store for $4.99. That’s a good deal for a universal game of this quality. There’s no telling when or if the price might go up, so just grab the game now.
Note: A promotional code was provided by the creator for use in this article.
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