Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Game review

Posted: September 3, 2013 in Game reviews

Greetings mortals. I am DracoJames102 and I am here to give you a review.

Today I am going to review a game based on one the most popular franchises of the modern age, ‘Harry Potter’. Now I myself am an average ‘Harry Potter’ fan. In fact my sister is a massive fan of the ‘Harry Potter franchise. I listened to the audio taped versions of the books narrated by Stephen Fry when I was in middle school. I did watch all of the movies and I think that they are awesome. This summer I went to ‘Universal Studios’ in Orlando Florida and checked out the new ‘Harry Potter’ section of the park. It had a lot of great things there. It had a great ‘Diagon Alley’ section where you could shop for ‘Harry Potter’ souvenirs, including ‘Hogwarts’ robes and your own wizard wand (which I got by the way along with a Hungarian Horntail). It even had this awesome simulation ride where you can travel with ‘Harry Potter’ throughout ‘Hogwarts’. If you ever plan on going to ‘Universal Studios’, I definitely recommend this section of the park to everybody.

Back on topic, this is a video game review after all. When a movie franchise is good, video game spin-offs are bound to happen. Today I am going to look at a game based on the very first adventure in the series, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ for the ‘Playstation’.

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Now the game itself was created by ‘EA Games’ and was released in 2003. I do remember playing the PC version of the game and I had fun with it before I became paranoid with the PC crashing if I was ever playing a game. I played the ‘Playstation’ version on my cousin’s ‘Playstation’ before I bought my own copy years later. Putting the video game spin-offs of the sequels aside, is this game in particular still fun to play? Let’s find out.

Story

The story of the game follows the same story of the first book. For those of you who don’t know the story of ‘Harry Potter’, maybe this will help you come out of that rock you’ve all been living under since 2000. In the secret wizard world, ‘Harry Potter’ is known as the boy who lived because he defeated the greatest dark wizard of the modern age when he was one year old (this is not a joke). When he became eleven years old, he received a letter inviting him to attend one of the greatest schools of the wizard world ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’. He attends the school along with his friends whom he met there, ‘Ron Weasley’ and ‘Hermione Granger’. Aside from learning new magic spells and crafting potions, ‘Harry’ must face face all sorts of dangers that the wizard world throws at him.

I consider the overall strength of the story in the game to be ok. It does keep to the story of the book so I can’t complain.

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Gameplay

The game plays out like a third-person shooter game with puzzle elements. You move Harry around using either the D-Pad or the left analog stick. To jump across pits, you run toward the edge and you automatically jump across with control of the analog stick. The X button is used to cast spells from your wand such as the Flipendo Knock-back jinx or the Wingardium Leviosa spell, the square button is used to interact with characters or objects within the game, the triangle button is used to look around in the first-person perspective and the circle button doesn’t really do anything. The R1 button lets you lock onto targets so that you can fire your spells at them more accurately and the L2/R2 buttons allow you to rotate the camera angle. The Start button takes you to the pause menu. The HUD contains a life bar which contains how much life Harry has left as well as certain items that Harry must collect to progress with the game.

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The game starts off pretty linear to begin with thought after exploring some areas later on in the game, you can explore more and more of the castle to seek some special surprises and secrets. Along the way, you’ll find chocolate frogs which restore Harry’s health, potions restore all of your health, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans which Ron’s brothers Fred and George want for some unexplained reason.If you collect a certain amount of each coloured bean for them, they will give you a password for a portrait in the nearby area which contains a special prize. Most of them contain upgrades for the Quidditch games, but they can also contain wizard cards. Wizard cards are scattered in secret places around the castle and if you collect all of them, you add something to the ending. I never collected all of the wizard cards in this version of the game, but I did collect them all for the PC version of the game and you got a special printed wizard card so maybe that’s what happens in this version too. You don’t need to collect any of these items to move along the plot.

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Your main objective throughout the first half of the game is to learn new spells to help you explore more of the castle. You learn new spells by attending compulsory classes. In order to learn the new spell, you have to input the correct sequence of buttons three times in a row. You can only use the new spells on specific objects within the game. You’ll know it when a specifically coloured star is hovering above the object. You use the X button to cast the spell.

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You will also encounter enemies within the game. Most of them are easy to beat but there are some that require a certain spell to defeat. If you defeat an enemy you earn house points for your house. These house points don’t really do anything besides grant you a win for the house cup so they are not important to the story.

Aside from the main gameplay, there are certain events in the game where you take control of Harry on a broomstick during Quidditch games and the mine cart in Gringott’s Vault. In the Quidditch game, you use the X button to accelerate and the analog stick to direct the broomstick. The objective of a Quidditch game is to catch the Golden Snitch. In order to do catch it, you need to pass through as many of its trail rings as possible all the while avoiding bludgers and the rival seeker. Once you’ve passed through enough rings, a gauge appears at the bottom of the screen with the snitch moving across it. Once it gets close enough to your hand, all you have to do is press the X button at the right time and HAZZUH it’s caught. The Quidditch games are good, but there really isn’t much to them. The mine vault levels only happen one time in the game and the only purpose to them is getting money for supplies in Diagon Alley. You control the mine cart with the D-Pad and you use the X button to lock the mine cart in its position. The objective is to collect as many coins as possible. If you hit any incoming hazards you lose coins so be careful. You do get bonus gems if you manage to collect all of the coins in a certain sequence, but as far as I am aware, they don’t really do anything. There are only three levels in the whole game and they are ok, but nothing special. The controls of the cart work pretty smoothly, but there isn’t really much challenge to them.

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In the later half of the game, there are some mini-games that you have to complete to complete certain tasks. The majority of them are ok, but there are a couple which drive me up the wall. In the chess game where you have to make the pieces fight each other to progress, you have to really think about what moves you have to make to force the pieces to kill each other otherwise they will kill you and you have to start the board all over again. However that doesn’t get any worse than the peacock mini-game in Diagon Alley. I would fry this mini-game in a volcano and serve it on the side with some fries if I had the chance. How bad is it? Well you have to chase the peacock around the room filled with boxes and get three of its feathers. But in order to get just one of its feathers, you have to stay within the peacock’s hit box long enough to get one of its feathers and the damn peacock always makes spontaneous movements that cause the feather meter to go down. And worse of all there is a time limit so if you fail to get all three feathers in time, you have to start the whole mini-game over again. There is an invisibility cloak hidden inside one of the boxes, but even then that will barely help you.

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There are boss fights in this game that will try to stop Harry from interfering with their plans. They have simple strategies but honestly they are super easy especially since you can lock onto them. There are a couple of not-so-easy ones such as the troll in the girl’s bathroom and the devil’s snare, but even then they are not difficult.

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Graphics

Some textures on the objects are ok, but some of the character models, mainly the ‘Albus Dumbledore’ and the ‘Hagrid’ models are downright atrocious to look at. I know that the ‘Playstation’ was an early 3D game console but I seriously think that they could have done a better job.

Music

The music is pretty good. The themes all have a tone which make them magical and I think it works for a game based on ‘Harry Potter.’ The voice acting is ok at best though there are times where I feel that most of them are reading directly from the script as opposed to really playing their characters. However there are times when the music and the dialogue of the characters lag a bit and that can be a problem when you want to hear what the characters are telling you. But there are subtitles and it barely happens so it’s not so bad.

Control

The controls are pretty good. It’s pretty smooth except when you are jumping off a ledge when it becomes pretty stiff but it isn’t classic ‘Castlevania’ stiff. The spells work pretty well except for the Incendio spell where you have to mash certain buttons at the right time and if you fail to press the correct button, you have to start the sequence over again. The controls suck when you are skating across a slippery surface though. But there aren’t that many slippery surfaces in the game so it doesn’t totally affect my feelings of the overall controls.

Final Thoughts

So after all that I have pointed out, does this video game spin-off still hold up? Personally I think so. The spells are cool to use, Harry controls pretty nicely and the game is pretty well designed for the most part. There are some aspects of the story that don’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, some of the characters send Harry off to do tasks that are either dangerous or simple when they could have done it themselves. The game is also pretty short. It took me about four hours to beat it so if you’re looking for a game that you can have many hours of fun with, this isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a fun movie licensed game, then I can recommend this title to you. Yes it is short and some aspects for it aren’t very well designed, but I feel like it isn’t enough to stop this from being a fun game.

Final rating: 7/10

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