Review: Lego Harry Potter Collection (Switch)

Return to Hogwarts with Harry’s complete Lego adventure!

By Andy Hoover. Posted 11/16/2018 12:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Easy to play and family friendly; looks great, especially the lighting; lots of content; charming and humorous
Poison Mushroom for...
Gameplay is a little too simple; too much repetition; overuses some songs to point of annoyance

It’s hard to think of a more family-friendly proposition than the Lego Harry Potter Collection for Nintendo Switch. Nintendo’s hardware, the Lego series of games, and the Harry Potter franchise are among the most well-recognized, and consistently popular sources of all-ages entertainment. It also helps that both games are known quantities and have been experienced by millions of gamers since their original releases. So now the question really comes down to whether these remastered versions of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 and Years 5-7 warrant a look, both from newcomers and longtime fans.

The Lego formula is undoubtedly familiar to many a gamer by now: take a popular franchise and retell it with fairly simple gameplay and lots of charm and humor often derived from the fact the world is now filled with Lego blocks and characters. Lego Harry Potter largely adheres to this concept, but it does a few things that make it somewhat unique, especially compared to more recent Lego games that have embraced open world game design. Besides the more contained nature of the game environments, it also features a greater focus on puzzle solving compared to the more prevalent presence of combat found in other Lego titles. While this makes moment to moment gameplay less immediately intense, solving puzzles ultimately feels much more satisfying than the rather loose, unchallenging battles that do occasionally break out.

However, the simple nature of the game does knock the experience down a little bit. Puzzle solving boils down to collecting items and using spells around environments in which pretty much everything you can interact with is clearly marked with exactly the spell or item you need to interact with it. While this makes the game very approachable for younger gamers, it still would have benefited by having a little extra challenge. Really, the only time things get “difficult” is when you encounter a handful of less thoughtfully designed puzzles that eschew logic and problem solving skills for just having you interact with every single object on the screen until you find the one that allows you to progress. Of course, the game can be played cooperatively with another player and sometimes this makes puzzle solving a little streamlined, but the AI controlled partners are actually fairly effective. Between the two games that make up this collection, there are a few tweaks to add some more puzzle types, but for the most part they play almost identically.

Another common factor coming over from previous Lego games is how the story is presented. For those familiar with the Harry Potter films or books, these games offer a fun, silly, almost parody-like interpretation of the now classic story. However, if you go in with little or no familiarity, the flow of events will likely make little sense as each book/movie is significantly compressed and there are no actual lines of dialogue to establish character or exposition. That being said, it’s obvious the game was developed for the millions of hardcore Harry Potter fans out there and it’s unlikely that these games will be the entry way into the franchise for many players.

One of the more surprising successes with the Harry Potter Collection is how good it looks. The original games were released in 2010 and 2011 but the versions included here have received an extra bit of polish for the more powerful hardware it’s now on. You still have the humorous juxtaposition of Lego objects and characters inhabiting an otherwise realistically rendered world, but now that world looks a lot more convincing. The more realistic models and textures look really good and the lighting throughout the game is fantastic, enhancing the atmosphere whether it’s the warm glow of the Gryffindor common room or the eerie darkness of the Forbidden Forest. And, of course, the cut scenes are very well animated and consistently funny. I did notice a few brief moments of lowering or stuttering framerates, but they were rare and had no significant impact on the actual gameplay.

The Harry Potter films featured some great music, including work from John Williams, and parts of those soundtracks can be found in these games. Naturally, this means that most of the music in the game is quite good, but it does suffer from some serious repetition. There is a decent amount of variety overall, but a few key tunes, including the main theme, keep popping up over and over again. Even the best song loses a little of its edge when it’s heard for the thousandth time.

A big facet that could impact a lot of players’ enjoyment of the game is both the amount and nature of the content in the games. A straight playthrough of both games could probably be done in well under twenty hours as each “book” is actually relatively short. However, as is usual with Lego games, there is a huge amount of content outside the basic story. Each chapter has hidden extras and objectives alongside plenty of additional collectibles. You can unlock loads of additional characters with extra abilities that open up even more content when you go back through previously completed stages. The best and most worthwhile unlockables, though, are the bonus stages earned through collecting Golden Bricks which often feature fun twists on the core gameplay mechanics in unique stages. For completionists there is plenty to do, but the simple nature of the game ultimately limits how much of this content will be interesting and worth pursuing.

While the Lego series might be getting a little stale for some, the Lego Harry Potter Collection actually is a breath of slightly fresh air despite it being an older title. The game’s more straightforward design and focus on puzzle solving makes it stand out a little from more recent Lego games while still featuring the easy to pick-up gameplay and humor every entry is known for. Of course, that simplicity will dissuade some while attracting others, especially those looking for something younger family members can enjoy together. Having two whole games worth of content can also be seen as a double-edged sword depending on how you feel about repetition and collectibles. In short, it’s another solid Lego game with all the good and bad that come with the franchise.

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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