Five hours. I wasted almost five hours of my life on this. I should know that it didn't take any longer than that because the tablet where I played it on has only five hours of battery life and I played through the whole thing without having to recharge.
Licensed games, especially movie tie-in games, are notorious for their tendency to be either incredibly mediocre or outright horrible. But I guess that's to be expected when you are tasked to develop a game under a very strict budget and deadline because it has to be out when the movie's out, and things only get worse when the movie you're adapting doesn't really translate that well into a game.
As a fan of Harry Potter, it pains me to see all the terrible games associated to the franchise. The damn thing had eight movies. The fact that EA had eight tries but ultimately failed to get it right or at least find and stick with a gameplay style that works for the licence is nothing short of magical.
I could go on and talk about how I wish licensed games would just stop trying to follow the story of their source material, but that's not the subject matter of this series of blogs. Today, we're here to play shit Harry Potter games. And I might have just found the worst one.
Looks like we're off to a good start. What's weird is the EA and WB logo appear after you start a new game or load your save instead of when you turn on the game.
~ Little Whinging ~
The game starts with this still image of Harry reading a newspaper on a swing. There's a pulsating green button with an "A" on it on the lower right corner of the screen so I guess I have to press A to continue. I'm so smart.
So this is the first screen of the game. Ah, pre-rendered backgrounds. Brings me back to my PS1 days. It appears like that black blob in the distance is supposed to be Harry. You wanna come a little closer so we can take a good look at you? C'mon now, Harry. Don't be shy.
If I were to make a quick guess, what we're looking at right here is a horribly down scaled character model from the console version. And yeah. Sometimes, you would default to this awkward mid-running pose you see in the picture whenever you enter a different area.
Going back to the park, I talk to Harry's cousin, Dudley. Again, the character portraits are stills from the "better" versions. Dudley's making fun of the things Harry says in his sleep which he seems to recall quite vividly. Harry calls him "Big D" for some reason. Come up with your own interpretations of this scene.
I leave Dudley alone and go inside a tunnel. Inside, we once again see Dudley who somehow arrived there before I did even though I left him at the park.
I talk to him again, he gets attacked by dementors, Harry uses magic to save him, all while the game shows us bad screenshots. How exciting.
~ Grimmauld Place ~
I talk to Sirius Black for a bit and he tells me about the Order of the Phoenix. I also have to go back to Hogwarts now because that's a thing you do on every book/movie. But before that, I have to upstairs and see my friends who just so happen to be on the same building.
These character models are really throwing me off.
On the second floor, I meet Hermione who tells me I have to repair these vases. I press the B button and a wand cursor appears on the screen. Click on the object of interest and I finally get some gameplay!
After pressing A to start the minigame, the wand cursor (in the second image) started moving to the left and the green L button was pulsating ever so slowly. The A button that shows up when the game shows those still images did the same thing, so by instinct, I pressed the button once, just like before. Nothing happened, the wand reached the end of the screen and I lost the game. Apparently, you had to MASH the L or R button to move the cursor in the opposite direction and keep it inside the swirly thing until the meter fills up.
I now regret playing this on a tablet.
Moving on to the next floor, I meet Ron who asks me to collect animated gifs. All two of them. Yes, this game has collectibles. No, I will not collect them in this playthrough.
Ginny's on the top floor. And like with every other Hogwarts student you've encountered so far, your interaction with her involves her asking you do do something for her, in this case, light a lamp.
This will be a recurring theme in the game.
Press the up or down button to move the cursor. Catch the sparkles.
After helping your friends and talking to Sirius once more, we are immediately teleported to Hogwarts, meaning they skipped the entire part where Harry and friends meet Luna Lovegood on the carriage on the way to the school.
I want to turn this game off already.
I go talk to Hermione.
Ten minutes into the game and it has already given up on trying to give the player any sense of immersion. Here we see Hermione telling us the name of the next segment of the game and asks if you want to continue on with your suffering.
Because I love you all, I clicked "Yes".
~ Hogwarts pre-DA ~
It's time for the start-of-term feast! Go down this long ass staircase and head to the Great Hall.
I now have Ron and Hermione following me around. While going down the staircase, the two would sometimes give up on trying to follow you. Even they don't want any part of this shitty game.
On my way down, I encounter this entrance to some hallway. Let's see what's inside.
You can't tell me a thing is locked when it doesn't even have a door. Especially when I'm already inside.
This will be a recurring theme in the game.
I finally made it downstairs and the feast begins. Yes, the feast didn't start until I got there because fuck, I'm Harry Potter.
Wanna see what the feast looks like in game?
Of course you don't.
I'm teleported back to the Gryffindor common room and Hermione tells me and Ron to finish unpacking our things. Also, did you see that arrow? The game gives you directions on where to go next whenever it feels like it.
As I enter the boy's dormitory to unpack my things, I am forced into a conversation with Neville Longbottom.
I hate you, Neville.
CONTINUED IN PART 2