Review: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Wii)

See if Harry’s first LEGO outing is as awesome as “He Who Must Not Be Named.”

By Evan Campbell. Posted 07/20/2010 14:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
A plethora of content; hilarious cut scenes; smart Wii Remote controls; charming co-op
Poison Mushroom for...
A very slow, and sort of boring, start; game-freezing glitches

Harry Potter. LEGO.

It is doubtful that author J.K. Rowling ever imagined these two worlds blending together when developing her magical universe. Yet developer Traveller’s Tales successfully transports Potter into LEGO Land, nailing the scale and scope of the movies and books in the video game medium. From the very start, with the first sounds of “Hedwig’s Theme” by John Williams, you will be in the mood to don a (block-like) cape and flick your Wii Remote like a wand.

Unfortunately, shouting out incantations and whipping the wand around is not an effective strategy in the beginning. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 closely follows the first four movies (which are based on the books), so players assume the role of a boy who does not even know that he is a wizard. Thus, the game starts rather slowly, with Potter being chaperoned by Hagrid through the hub world of Diagon Alley. Seeing the attention to detail toward the source material is touching, but at the same time, starts the game in a humdrum way.

But once comfortable with your new magical surroundings, navigating Hogwarts becomes a real joy. The developer mixes the whimsical world with LEGO charm seamlessly. Ghosts, like Nearly Headless Nick, lead Potter and friends to each next checkpoint of the story, while numerous students roam the hallways. You venture through hallways lined with moving pictures, toil away in Professor Snape’s potions’ lab, and even run around the Quidditch stands.

LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 Screen

Throughout the various locales, the now classic LEGO game mechanics come into play. You will use spells to rebuild blocks and pieces to solve puzzles. For example, Harry may be required to reassemble a lock on to a door, only to have to switch characters to unlock the new feature. The Wii controls make the process smooth because the developer maximizes the remote’s potential. Players may target items with the IR sensor, and then move them around the screen. The remote will even bump out spell effects through its tiny speaker.

The controls also help players switch characters, which is a necessary function throughout the title. For those with friends, though, co-op is fully featured and cleverly designed. When a buddy runs away from you, the screen splits in the direction your character is running. This feature makes following your avatar much easier and allows each gamer to do what they want.

Sadly, the game does what it wants from time to time. During a co-op session, a fellow player was stuck behind a wall and the only way to fix the problem was to start the level over. Things progressively got worse throughout the title, as game-freezing bugs made manual reboots of Wii the only solution. These glitches do not ruin the experience, but are definitely frustrating.

The irritation fades away rather quickly, though, when watching one of the numerous cut scenes. The game adds some fun comedic flair to the classic movie sequences. For instance, the dead unicorn from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” only has a temperature in the game, and is merely resting in Hagrid’s Hut before dashing to the Forbidden Forest. These segments progressively get better, too, with parts from the fourth year bringing about tons of chuckles.

Like the cut scenes, the entire game seems to improve as players delve deeper through the years and as Harry ages. The source material allows for more action and larger set pieces, which translate well for a game experience. So even with a slow start and frustrating bugs, Traveller’s Tales manages to create a rather delectable potion for the first part of LEGO Harry’s journey. Hopefully, the developer perfects the formula for the final three years.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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