LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on July 29, 2010 in

As I am a hardcore gamer who enjoys games in which blood and offensive themes are common, I find it difficult to admit that I am an avid lover of LEGO games. Ever since I unsheathed my LEGO lightsaber in LEGO Star Wars, I have found myself returning to my childhood of playing with building blocks. When I heard that LEGO Harry Potter was in production, I was eager to grab a wand and dive in.

Traveller’s Tales Games’ LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is the first four years of Harry Potter’s journey to becoming a wizard.  The game  transforms the world of Hogwarts into a land of colorful characters that don’t require oral dialogue to help tell the story. This is a problem if you aren’t familiar with the books or movies because you won’t know what is going on. LEGO Harry Potter covers the main parts of the movies and books but leaves non-readers out of the loop wondering why Harry Potter is going into a dark alley with Big Foot in the first chapter.

LEGO Harry Potter does a great job of separating itself from other LEGO games in that it creates Hogwarts as an entire environment unlike the “hub world” of past games in which all the episodes were separated into individual rooms. Hogwarts is a detailed castle filled with a maze of rooms and puzzles. After beating the game, I still find myself getting lost within Hogwarts desperately trying to figure out which door takes me where.  To help remedy this for younger users and lost gamers like myself, Nearly Headless Nick is present in the game to help you find your way.  Nick will lead you to your destination by leaving a trail of ghost studs behind him. Now you don’t have to follow him and can instead go and do other tasks and explore, but for those wanting to follow the story line quickly who need help remembering where to go, Nick is there to help you.

Also enabling you to travel through the wizarding world are magic spells, each serving a different but useful purpose. The game utilizes all the recognizable spells from the books and movies including Wingardium Leviosa, which helps you to levitate objects, Lumos, to defend yourself from plant attacks, and Riddiculus to turn your biggest fears into comedic parodies. For example, when Ron casts Riddiculus on the spiders he is terrified of, they quickly transform into clumsy rollerskaters. You will need each spell to complete the game and access all areas, learning new spells as you complete more of the story.

You learn spells by going to lessons, each taught by a professor from Hogwarts. These lessons are fun and help you learn the ropes of your newly acquired spell. Not all characters learn and can use the same abilities though, so as you progress through the story you will come across sections in which your main characters cannot access a door or flip a switch because they don’t have the right spell or enchantment. You can however go back through these levels in Free Play mode and choose different characters instead of being forced to play as the characters the Story Mode chooses for you.

What really impressed me with this game is how they utilized ideas like potion-making and wizarding lessons. Making potions is easy and just takes a bit of exploration to find all of the key ingredients. Often times when your character is unable to access a certain area you will find a cauldron with the ingredients needed hovering around it showing you what you need to collect. Upon adding the ingredients, your character can then drink from the cauldron. Effects include being super strong, turning invisible, being able to transform into any other character you have collected thus far, or giving you a beard to make you look older.

Just like in other LEGO games, such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Batman, you won’t just play as the main characters, but will be able to control and explore the wizarding world with over 100 unique characters. There are a total of 167 characters and costumes to collect, with characters like Harry and Ron having more than 5 costumes each. The fun thing about the wizarding world is that not all the characters you collect and play as are humans. In addition to the Muggles and wizards, you can also play as animals, ghosts, house elves, and goblins.

Collectibles are a secondary objective in the game besides advancing through the main storyline itself. There are 200 gold bricks, 50 students in peril, 24 sets of House Crests, and 20 red bricks to collect throughout all 4 years of Harry’s adventure. This game is the compulsive collector’s nightmare. However, just like in past games, LEGO gives you the tools to find every single collectible. Each red brick you find has a special ability, the most valuable abilities being able to detect where each collectible in each level is. This is achieved by colored arrows pointing you to the exact place the collectible is, or showing you the procedure you need to go through to earn the collectible. Unfortunately there is no indicator for Students in Peril which is where I currently am stuck with 1 student left to find. There is a Student in Peril in every level and to help them you must free them from danger. Often times the student will be stuck in a spiderweb or be trapped behind a bookshelf. It may seem like a burden to have to track down every single one, but nonetheless finding these students gives you a good feeling about helping those in need.

In past LEGO games, combat has been the emphasis of the game, but LEGO Harry Potter is different.  The majority of the game, except for a few boss battles, is puzzles and exploration. When you are done with the story you can play bonus levels in Gringott’s Bank, as well as create your own levels and objects.  The downside is that you can’t share your creations online. You can, however, grab a friend and play through the story in Co-op mode.  Just like in LEGO Indiana Jones 2, players are not forced to stay on the same screen, but can go and explore different areas of a room without having to tag along with one another. I found this feature helpful in some of the more difficult puzzle sections of the game in addition to when I was getting upset with my AI partner for not keeping up with me.

While playing LEGO games you will follow a repetitive procedure; destroy everything in the level to collect studs then use those studs to buy characters and special abilities to unlock more content and increase your enjoyment. The only problem with this process is that destroying every object in a level to increase your studs gets boring. LEGO Harry Potter is no exception to this formula and I found myself going through the same “smash everything” routine from the first level onward.

LEGO has always put out games appropriate for the whole family, sure to make you laugh and guaranteed to be fun for all ages. I highly recommend this game for everyone, regardless of age. LEGO Harry Potter is now out on all platforms. My one precaution: make sure you know the story before you play the game.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is rated E 10+ for everyone and is currently on store shelves.

A copy of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 was provided to TMG for the purposes of evaluation and review.

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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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