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Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban Package Art
 GENRE
  RPG
 DEVELOPER
  Griptonite Games
 PUBLISHER
  Electronic Arts
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  No
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Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban

Since the dawn of man, it has always been a desire to throw lightning bolts and various other spells at children. J.K Rowling helped make this fantasy a reality with her vivid and well-written stories of a boy wizard who lived. The series quickly blossomed into movies, and then to video games. Most Potter games have been standard adventure fare. Azkaban differs in that it is the first Harry Potter (turn-based) RPG.

visuals

Azkaban is slightly challenged in the visual department. Animation is sketchy, sprites are undetailed, and characters do not particularly look like their on screen actors (or the artwork displayed on the books). Other graphical problems include vague backgrounds where it is hard to tell where one can walk and where one can’t. This can make many of the games dungeons frustrating to navigate. Not everything is bad, however. Once you enter into battle, the game gives you a decent perspective somewhat similar to that of Golden Sun, though not nearly as beautiful. Spell effects are not dazzling, but done well enough.

audio

Azkaban fares slightly better in the sounds department than in graphics. Most music chords are in very short loops, but the tunes are catchy. As far as sounds go, you’ll be pleased to know that you can hear Harry Potter wince in pain every time your character is smacked. Actually, most of the sound effects, from spells to monster sounds and menus, create a believable atmosphere. Well, as believable an atmosphere as a game based off of 2D can create.

gameplay

Prisoner of Azkaban is the first turn-based, Harry Potter RPG -- and it performs decently. Gameplay, being derived from a book, is indeed very linear. However, there are still a number of things to do. Though there are no distinguishable sidequests in this game, you can attempt to collect every Harry Potter wizard card, complete an in game bestiary, and learn every spell. For the most part, you will follow Harry, Ron, and Hermione through the halls of Hogwarts to attend various classes and accomplish different things for your teachers. Simple fetch quests will lead you through the deepest depths of Hogwarts, however, facing dire monsters which seem to be everywhere. Monsters appear on the overworld, instead of being randomly encountered, so you can choose to avoid most by simply walking away. Once you enter combat, you will be taken into a perspective very similar to Golden Sun. Here you’ll notice something odd. There are no normal attacks. Only magic and special attacks are available. I guess it makes sense that wizards would not want to lower themselves to muggle fighting methods, but when every spell but the weakest takes MP, this can quickly become a problem. The best method to solve this, unfortunately, is power leveling. Once you level up enough you’ll have more than enough MP to make it through most dungeons. Of course, there are also replenishing items, but these are expensive. Each character also has special attacks which they can use once per battle. Harry even has various attacks dealing with having the right combination of collector’s cards. Besides the magic restriction, combat is rather shallow. You will end up just trading hits with whatever enemy is on the screen, and the winner will be a product of who does the most damage and who has the least hit points. Outside of combat, Azkaban is slightly less shallow. Many of the gang’s magical powers can be used in the overworld, much like in Golden Sun. Harry and friends will need to use spells like Spongify, Diffindo, and Lumos in order to navigate the many dungeons in the game. A quick play through of the game will take from 5 to 10 hours, and upon reaching the ending, you will be given the option of playing through again while retaining your levels, items and abilities. This in turn will let you play through again in 2 to 3 hours, without the hassle of leveling up. The game even throws in a special collector’s card on the second play through which enables all of your characters to learn every spell. Since some dungeons have multiple paths, it is not a bad idea to play through at least twice.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Harry Potter and the Wizard of Azkaban is a mediocre to below-average RPG, and doesn’t hold many great moments. You follow much more through the mundane of the wizard’s life (go and find the potion ingredients, go and find my pet rat, etc.) than you do through the mystic. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, the story can be a little difficult to follow as well. The RPG mechanics are very simple, the game is short, and the puzzles are not very challenging. Is this necessarily a bad thing, however? While the short, simplistic style may be a turn off for more sophisticated gamers, it serves as perfect fare for younger gamers; ones who might be new to the RPG Genre. As a “beginner’s RPG” Azkaban is well paced and suitably challenging. While the game does lack technically, it slightly makes up for this with an innocent charm of sorts. Azkaban has little to offer adult gamers, though it is particularly well suited to a younger sibling or a child who has never played an RPG before.

final score 5.2/10





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Staff Avatar Paul Pace
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