LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | PSP | DS
LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 box art
System: PS3, PC, X360, Wii, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Traveller's Tales 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June 29, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
LEGO Star Wars This Ain’t
by Cole Smith

When I first glanced at the title of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4, I assumed the title meant the game was for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Truth be told, I wasn’t that far off base with that assumption. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 takes place in the LEGO universe using the first four years of Harry Potter movies as fodder for the premise. Due to the simplistic nature of the game, it’s aimed at a younger audience, although it may pose a choking hazard for one and two-year olds.

LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot

This Harry Potter LEGO version is available on all next-gen systems. It’s even available for the PC and PSP. But beware, all games are not created equally. There are differences between the handheld and the console games, and some of these differences are huge. If you want a more challenging, and ultimately better looking, game that follows the storyline of the movies more closely, then you’ll want to consider a console or PC version. If you’re buying this game for a youngster, you can’t go wrong as long as he or she isn’t a rabid gaming prodigy. A good rule of thumb would be: If they loved LEGO Star Wars, they will at least like Harry Potter.

LEGO Harry Potter makes great use of the stylus. It is forced, and definitely feels forced, but after an hour or so it feels like there’s no better way to play the game. This comes at the expense of command issues. It can be very frustrating to have your character constantly spin around like a top when all you want to do is move him through a doorway. The stylus is used for virtually everything including moving, interacting, and casting spells. All spells have to be drawn with the stylus, a method we’ve seen before, but one that works well within this context. There are different drawings for each spell, in addition to some mini-games that must be played to activate the spell. It does get tedious, but kids see this as fun. When they learn something they like to put it into practice, over and over and over again. The developers obviously have incorporated a lot of child psychology research into this game. Players can opt to use the buttons for some tasks, but it’s not very convenient.

LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot

The gameplay is almost point-and-click. A lot of the challenge is taken away from you. What at first seems like an open, explorable environment, is little more than a map with all directions carefully highlighted. It’s impossible to get lost in this game, but apparently kids don’t like getting lost. They also don’t react well to seemingly arbitrary gameplay elements, so arrows point the way. The person with a yellow halo will give you information or provide you with your next mission. Most missions are little more than fetch-quests. Items with which you can interact will also be highlighted. Grab that item, bring it back, and earn a reward. Then follow the arrow to your next adventure. Fortunately, interesting things happen along the way to break up the monotony. There are puzzles to solve, spells to cast, brooms to ride, and dangerous places to poke around in. Despite these welcome anomalies, the game keeps you on a short leash, reeling you in to ensure you’ll always return to finish your mundane chores like moving boxes, collecting studs, and locating lost train tickets.

LEGO: Harry Potter: Years 1-4 screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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