- Platform: PlayStation
- ELSPA Minimum Age: 3
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
Electronic Arts thankfully placed a lot of emphasis on production value for this release instead of taking the cheap cash-in option. Aside from the occasional pop-up problem that makes walls vanish quite un-magically, the graphics are beautiful and fun. Chocolate frogs (an appropriate health power-up) and other elements and characters from the book and film are wonderfully animated. The sound effects and, particularly, the voice acting are top drawer, which helps draw the player into the Potter experience. Also, the gameplay is nicely varied throughout. Players go from learning a new spell in class, to retrieving fire seeds for Hagrid, to magic fights against the Slytherin bully Draco Malfoy, to riding the broom--which is especially fun. There's even a Quidditch level early on, but there's little to do and it's over very quickly.
On the downside, the game suffers from some really odd control. Like a lot of adventure games, jumping is really important since many levels require you to clear obstacles or reach out-of-the-way items. But, unlike nearly every other game in the genre, there's no jump button. Instead, players automatically jump from the edge of a platform from either a full stop or while running. It takes a lot of getting used to because, if you're not at full run or full stop, it's easy to just walk right off the edge and fall. And, like too many other games, you can only save your game at predetermined locations in the game.
Another fault of this game is its lack of challenge for experienced gamers. It's nice that they're trying to make it accessible to the entire cross section of PlayStation-owning Harry Potter fans, but without varying levels of difficulty, it's less of a game than a tour through Potter's magical world. Still, it is an interesting world, and even through it's easy, the action is still varied enough to be fun. --Porter B Hall