Yes, I am a big Harry Potter nerd. No, I have not really enjoyed playing any of the Harry Potter games on Wii. I think part of the reason is that all movie games tend to be terrible, so beholden to the plot that they sacrifice gameplay. And they’re so serious. I’m now finding that Harry Potter is best played with a sense of humor.
Enter Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4. I’ve enjoyed previous Lego games, like Batman and Indiana Jones, but I was beside myself when they announced Lego Harry Potter. It’s a perfect marriage of properties. What better way than to put Legos together and take them apart than with spells? And, of course, to learn new spells you have to go to class. To “learn” a spell you mostly have to throw some Lego bits into a cauldron, but using the spells afterward is good fun. All the favorites are in there: Wingardium Leviosa, Lumos, Immobulus, Expelliarmus, Riddikulus, and so on and so on. You’ll even use Polyjuice Potion and handle Mandrakes. Mandrakes!
Like other Lego titles, the problem solving fun comes from getting to play different characters. Harry, naturally, is the best at flying. Try to fly as Hermione and you’ll have some trouble navigating, but she does great with the puzzles. Play as Ron and you can unleash Scabbers to crawl into small areas. You’ll discover lots of different characters along the way, all satisfying. It’s Harry who has to face off against Lego Voldemort, though.
I’ve played through years 1 and 2, and can say that the game hits enough of the high points in the plot to keep hardcore fans happy. The scenery is amazing. Lego Hogwarts looks fantastic, and I let out an audible gasp when I entered the awesome Lego Forbidden Forest. Everything you want to see in Lego form is there: Diagon Alley, dementors, Dobby, Hagrid’s cabin, even the invisibility cloak. Because it’s all in Lego, it all feels so lighthearted and even kind of goofy. Plus, there are wonderful, frivilous points of gameplay. De-gnoming the Lego Weasley garden made me ridiculously happy.
Lego Harry Potter is my favorite thing to come to Wii in a long time. It will be interesting to keep playing as the story gets darker. Year 3 is my favorite, so time to get back to playing…