Harry Potter is awesome. I have thoroughly enjoyed every movie and own all of the 2-disc special editions. I even have taken the time to play a couple of Harry Potter games on the Playstation 2 and found them to be decent offerings despite the usual rushed movie game flaws. So, needless to say I was slightly interested when I received a dvd remote game with Harry Potter on the cover and wondered if a dvd remote game could finally be any good. After spending a few hours with the product, you as the reader have two decisions. 1)You can read this review that will be full of one-liners and reasons why whoever came up with the concept of dvd remote games should be shot or 2)You can trust me when I say this, don’t waste your time on this, please.
What do you think of first when you think of Harry Potter, lavish and picturesque landscapes or blurry and pixilated messes of space? If you thought the first one boys and girls, then obviously you have not played this game. The game mixes footage from the Potter movies in with other scraps of animation and video offerings. This would be fine except the aspect ratio is all screwed up and it looks incredibly rough. Like someone took several pieces of Potter footage, deposited it into a blender and turned it to fricassee and hoped it would come out alright. The animation that was created to help along your objectives in the game doesn’t do any favors either. At times, you can’t tell if you are supposed to go up, down, counter clockwise or fall flat on your face. To be honest, if they had gone straight animation and not try to rely on film clips, it might have worked out better.
Again, next question young Potter; beautiful 5.1 Dolby Digital or disturbing 2.0 Stereo? Well too bad, you get 2.0 Stereo. Wind tunnels have more umph than this game does. The voice dialog is fairly clear and there are some good casual sound effects. However, after failing the silly staircase or owl activity for the 343rd time, one will be sick of the sound of going to the infirmary. The sounds would be greatly enhanced if they did keep the 5.1 DD sound but sadly it would still be only decent at best. As it stands, this game just has a local sound which will make even more depressed that you actually spent money on this disaster (unless you were smart enough to buy it as part of a Order of the Phoenix bundle from a participating store).
You’re a young wizard and have been selected to attend Hogwarts academy. Choose from one of four Hogwarts Houses such as Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. From there you will take on three years of required classes and extracurricular activities in a chance to face off in a wizard duel for the ultimate prize (getting to erase the fact that I ever played this game from my memory perhaps?): Quidditch World Cup tickets. So let us begin, shall we?
I’ll admit something up front, I’ve never seen an actually decent dvd remote game. To be honest, I haven’t seen many decent movie games period. However, I need to be fair. It starts out innocently enough with some video footage and then tells you to select a house or have the sorting hat do it for you. Selecting the sorting hat will produce a random house for you. In my case, it chose Gryffindor, perhaps it isn’t so random. Then you have the option of attending a random class or participating in extracurricular activities (after you complete two classes). Once you hit attend class is where the problems start.
The first few games appear to be innocent enough. There is a 3-d explore game where you are watching footage from the movie and on your toolbar you have certain objects that you must click. However, the scene goes very fast and the images on your toolbar don’t necessarily represent the on-screen film. Another watch as I only half work class is the moving staircases where you have to choose the staircase that you want to go to next. It’s a simple case of memorization (as with all of these games) of which one to move with your remote. Yet another class has you re-ordering pictures of a creature that is only partially transfigured. This one actually works. Amazing.
Then the part where I lose some hair starts. I make it through a couple of classes and decide to try the extra- curricular activities. The first one involves taking your pet-owl and navigating her through the forest. Use your dvd-remote and press up or down or left or right depending on the direction she is traveling. But you have to do it fast enough or else you will end up in the infirmary. Alright, UP over the trees, RIGHT towards the fork in the trees, and then quickly LEFT. *BOOM* infirmary. Okay, maybe I just suck. Let’s try it again, UP, RIGHT, LEFT *BOOM*. Perhaps my batteries aren’t working very well. Change of batteries. UP RIGHT LEFT *BOOM*. Several more times. *Sits down remote and walks away for a moment* *tap tap* A couple more times, UP RIGHT LEFT *BOOM*. *Sound of DVD Remote in the air and crashing against animals that happen to live in my house*. *Meow* *sigh*.
It doesn’t get much better either. If you can navigate through that, then off to Quidditch World Cup which is the same game; just with Bludgers and trying to catch the Golden Snitch. So, naturally it has the same issues. If you make it through that mess, it even gets worse in year two and three. The same games, only more tedious and more frustrating. Cursing the Forbidden Forest and wondering what moron came up with Quidditch will become a favorite pastime as you progress in this game.
The difficulty in this game comes with how well you can navigate a dvd remote and how well your dvd remote will cooperate with the game. Chances are unless your remote is turbo charged or comes with the reflexes of a gamepad, you won’t have much luck. This game is aimed at people who don’t have consoles (cause if they did, they would surely play something else) and therefore don’t have gamepads. The game does offer; easy, medium and hard settings but they aren’t that different. It even offers an option where the game will adjust to your level. The game didn’t have a retard difficulty in the level adjustment even though I sure felt like one.
The game doesn’t really take much time to complete. Assumingly you can correctly remember things and complete the Wizard’s Duel at the end of year three, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Once done, sure you can invite a few friends over to compete in the multiplayer competition. Up to four people can play and you each get to be from a different Hogwarts house. Sure, there is fun to be had, especially if you incorporate alcohol and amphetamines but more than likely your friends will beat you and make sure your remains are deposited into an urn and floated down the mississippi. If on the off chance, you make it back alive, then hopefully you will have learned your lesson and never ever play this game again.
My wish with the Harry Potter series as it relates to gaming is that after all seven movies have been produced, we get one game. In that game, it will be an action role playing game which will encompass all seven books and take Harry Potter on a fantastic journey as he becomes a master wizard. I would also settle for a Lego adaptation. In fact, that would be awesome (A Lego He Who Shall Not Be Named would be epic). Until then, we will get movie games which are okay and then pieces of garbage like this. The graphics and sound are bad enough to begin with but the gameplay is just all shades of wrong. Most of the games simply require memorization but some fail from the dvd remote being used as it was never intended. The remote has never been a good controller, it was meant to be used to hit play and select various audio options. One of two things will happen from playing this game. One you will beat this game in two hours flat and throw it at your little brother. Or, after the 772nd trip to the infirmary, you will realize what a fool you are for playing this and throw it at your little brother. Or a bastard relative, or some guy on the street who doesn’t own a dvd player but is fresh out of toilet paper. If you have $20 to burn on Harry Potter merchandise, buy a prop wand from one of many websites. That way if that thing actually works, you can wish your way out of this review and forget this game ever happened. I do, and perhaps with many months of extensive shock therapy and random orgies; I can forget it too.