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I confess I'm not a fan of Harry Potter and fail to see why it is so popular with adults. At the risk of offending anyone, I read the first book and saw the first two films and thought them mediocre at best. None of this matters with this game, however, which is great fun whether you are a Potter fan or not.
As you might guess, Harry Potter Years 1-4 is based around the first four books in the series. Each "episode" contains a number of levels based around key scenes from the book and features a host of familiar characters and locations. This will instantly make it fun to fans of the Potter series as they see their favourite characters and places depicted in Lego, whilst the block smashing, character unlocking antics of the Lego series make it fun for anyone, even if you've never read a Potter book.
I obviously can't comment on how faithful the plotting is to the books, or how well the characters have been represented. I'm assuming (based on my experience with other Lego games) that they pay a lot of fan service, but I'll leave it to others to say whether there are any glaring omissions. The lack of familiarity didn't impact on my enjoyment of the game, since it is pretty self-contained, although it was fairly obvious at times that I was missing out on some in-jokes.
The gameplay has been tweaked slightly from other games in the series and this is both a good and bad thing. Rather than simply requiring you to work your way through a level destroying things and killing enemies, levels are more mission based, requiring you to complete certain tasks for characters before you can progress. On the one hand, this is a good development, since it gives the game a little more structure and purpose. On the other hand, the missions can interrupt the flow of the game. Part of the fun of previous Lego titles has been the ability to simply explore. The mission based approach (at least in Story Mode) goes against this and can leave the game feeling a little disjointed at times.
Of course, the real joy of the Lego games comes when you have played through each level and unlocked the Free Play mode which allows you to use characters you have unlocked and explore previously inaccessible areas. There are lots of hidden areas to uncover and secret objects to find and the addition of Free Play mode adds real replay value. You won't just play them once, but several times until you have found everything there is to find. This extends the life of the game far more than you would expect, and for most people there's a good 20-30 hours of gaming time there.
Graphics are exactly as you would expect, with characters and locations lovingly recreated in blocky Lego. Graphics are chunky, colourful and well-rendered and characters instantly recognisable from their film counterparts (at least the ones I knew were). Cut-scenes are well-rendered and the cut scenes look good (far better than the awful videos that spoiled Lego Batman 2).
The one issue I did have was with some of the scenery. Background scenery (bookcases, tables, and other furniture) all looks the same and it was often tricky to tell which elements were breakable and which weren't. This was further hampered by the slightly imprecise controls. I did feel I kept wasting a lot of time trying to smash things that weren't smashable.
Levels are accompanied by various tunes from the films, with full orchestral scores to match the epic scope of the action. These can become a little annoying and repetitive and I do quite often play the game with the sound down, but if you like the music from the films, you will enjoy this. Sound effects are a little more basic (bangs and explosions when you destroy things, ringing noises when you find something) but are well-suited to the game and capture the cartoon-like feel of the graphics.
It's true that the game lacks any real long term challenge or significant difficulty level. Even by the standards of the (already easy) Lego series, it's clear that the gameplay has been dumbed down for younger gamers. As with earlier titles, you have infinite lives, so when you die you simply respawn at the same point. The mini games are much easier and the whole thing won't offer much of a challenge to even mildly competent gamers. There's also no replay value in the long term. Once you have found everything there is to be found, this is going to sit in a cupboard and never be touched again.
Years 1-4 has a novel approach when it comes to controls, which is partly successful. To interact with objects, the game requires you to use the stylus as a wand to trace shapes on the touchscreen and cast spells. This works really well, tying in with the theme of the game and immersing you in the Hogwarts environment. Where it doesn't work so well is with the basic attack spell (used to break Lego objects or kill enemies) which can be a little imprecise. You wave your wand in one direction, only for the actual spell to whizz off in a different direction, missing the target. Some objects also require very precise positioning for you to destroy them and if you are not standing in exactly the right spot, they fail to explode. This means that you can sometimes miss out on hidden objects until you realise what the problem is.
The controls can also be a little uncomfortable. Whilst the stylus can be used to move characters around the screen, I again found this a little imprecise and it led to some frustrating deaths. As such, I prefer to use the standard DS buttons. Unfortunately, this means that you have to use the buttons whilst also clutching the stylus ready for use. This is actually quite uncomfortable and I noticed that after sessions longer than 30 minutes or so, my hand was really aching. If you regularly play this game, there is a very real chance you could develop RSI.
Whilst Years 1-4 might be firmly aimed at the casual/younger gamer, the important thing is that it's a lot of fun to play. It might be a little light on challenge, but it offers a good chunk of entertainment. It can be picked up for about £10-15 and that will give you around 20 hours of entertainment - plenty for your money. Even as a non-fan of the Potter series, I enjoyed this game; fans will be in Hogwarts Heaven
© Copyright SWSt 2013
I'm somewhat of a Harry Potter fanatic, browsing through some DS games I was torn between buying the normal version of harry potter or the funny Lego version of Harry potter, having never played a Lego game before I decided to go ahead and purchase this one. Stupid me at first bought this for the 3DS. Since I only have a normal DS I took this back and had to buy the DS version. This cost me £15 in used condition. I usually flit between games when I'm bored or just fancy playing something new or different but this game had me hooked for a full week until I completed it with all achievements. The game title basically describes what the game is, you work your way through the levels and events from the books/films in order to complete that year. You can't skip a head a year until you have completed the year before.
=== Year 1, Philosopher's stone. ===
We start off the game with a little comical video clip from the film but in Lego format of dumbledoor, magonigal and hagid taking baby Harry (who is wearing glasses already) to the Dursley's house. The scene then cuts and we play at first as Harry in the household. The family is dotted around the house and anyone who has a blue star above their head has a quest for you.After completing the quest and anything else that can be done on each level we move forward through the events of the book/film such as going to Diagone alley, Train station, our first magical lessons, defeating the troll and eventually defeating voldermort for the first time.
On each level there are gold hats, character cards and Lego pieces to collect. We do this by doing all quests, collecting all gold coins that are scattered on the floor, smashing everything open and using your spells on anything you can - we can tell where we can use our magic to make new things, painting,s pick things up, break things because they have a green line drawn around them. When you touch the object the shape of the spell you have to cast comes up on the screen that you have to draw with the stylus.
===Year 2, Chamber of secrets. ===
All through the years are little short clips remastered in Lego form from the film, the don't stick to the films exactly but they are roughly what happens but in an amusing way. We meet new teachers and learn new spells which means things that had a red line around them we couldn't use our magic which we hadn't learnt yet, we now can. But only on some things. Again we go through the rough events of what happens in the film such as going into the forbidden forest following the spiders, going into Tom riddles diary in which we have to chase Aragog. We also have to work out way through the tunnels under ground to defeat the battleisk snake. At this point in the game I had learnt that we can smash everything up including chairs and I realised that this got us more gold coins so it was easier to achieve more gold hats.
===Year 3, Prisoner of Askaban. Year 4, Goblet of fire.===
This point in the game we have collected characters that we can turn into to use things such as strength, clever character to solve puzzles on doors, we can use parcel tounge and by the last year we can use all the spells being able to fight off the dementors and use some dark magic spells. All the years are pretty long and have a lot of levels in them,with the exception of year 4. In this we have hardly any levels and I thought because of that the last year was quite rushed as if they wanted to get it over and done with.
Throughout the game I had struggled to get gold hats for collecting all the coins but by the 4th year the gold coins were worth 1,000000 each and I didn't understand how when normally after a short level I'd have 345,856 coins I now have 567,980009 coins. It just doesn't make sense from one level. Once we have completed the last year the game isn't finished, because now we have to go back through the full game collecting all the gold hats, Lego pieces, character cards from places we could never get due to not knowing the spells.
===Controls and difficulty level===
We use the stylus through this which I don't mind, we play on the bottom screen of the DS and the top screen is a map with our Lego head bobbing up and down as we move to where we need to be which is marked with a green marker on the map. Because of all the stars above the heads and all the markers on the map this makes for a really easy game, we know who we need to speak to and we know where we need to go, the puzzles on doors and things are really easy to complete,this game is really easy and the spells are easy to draw too so a child will be able to play this game with no trouble but despite how easy this is it's extremely addictive and really fun to play.
===Music and Graphics===
The music is instrumental like on the films and I really like this because it can be quite eerie and confusing or really fast pace when we're having to fight someone or something. The graphics are good, there are no glitches in the game but I found it can be hard to find some of the hidden items which should be there but aren't, this could be a glitch in the game. Every Lego character looks very comical to me, even when they run they still keep their Lego form except for Hermiony, they have tried to giver her a little bit of a feminine side when she runs rather than running the same as everyone else she sort of swishes her arms a bit.
I spent over the course of a week 23 hours playing this game in full and going back to collect the rest of the achievements. The video clips are really good, stick to the film really well as well as the actual levels, there isn't a level on here that isn't in the book or film so they haven't added their own little bits in.The video clips are of course in Lego form and are slightly different but made to be funny and they deliver this really well. There is a wide variety of characters in this from all the teachers and students just lounging about in the halls, they haven't brought any new or made up characters into these years. This to me is one of my favourite DS games to play and I will happily delete my game and re play this with no worries. Although I will know where I am going and what I am doing but it's a great way to waste my time.
As many of you probably already know I am little more that an overgrown child and have somewhat of a fascination for Harry Potter. This game therefore caught my eye immediately and as soon as I saw it I knew that I needed it (yes, I have a rather fluid definition of need!). Granted, I've never had a massive interest in lego, but even that appealed to the childish side of me! In retrospect I probably shouldn't have bought it because it obliterated many hours of my life as I sat glued to my gameboy! Normally I have a fairly short attention span and switch between games, but I was absolutely hooked to this for about 3 days solid!
Up until after I'd bought, played, got completely addicted and completed the game I had absolutely no idea that Lego has made a ton of games. We all know that they make Lego blocks and games to play on the floor etc, but I had absolutely no idea that they actually have a market in the games consoles. And it's not just the DS. Lego have released titles such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman and even Rock Band on platforms such as the Wii, the Playstation and the PC. I have to admit I hadn't realised quite how much Lego as a company had expanded! This probably didn't come as such a shock to many people, who are slightly more up to date with these things but it definitely did to me!
The idea behind the game is quite nicely summed up in the game title: Harry Potter Years 1-4. It is what it says on the tin! Each book of Harry Potter between book one and book four has it's own section on the game, and for those who aren't quite sure which ones they are it's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, the Prisoner of Askaban and the Goblet of Fire. It's all set out in order so you can't skip ahead to a later book before you have completed the plot of the earlier ones. From reading other reviews I gather this is somewhat of a new aspect to the Lego games, as in the previous ones you can dip in and out of levels at will without having to play through a story.
The game follows the plots of each of the four books in turn and you play a variety of characters as each character has different strengths; for example only a Gringotts goblin can work certain machinery and you need a strong character like Hagrid to move heavy objects like boxes. The gameplay aspect of it is similar to other Lego games with the emphasis being on collecting and exploring, finding studs which are added to your grand total, and other hidden items such as hats and red bricks which allow you to unlock other aspects of the game like new characters. Each story is split into different levels and as you go through the levels you will be taught new spells in various classes which are essential for moving forward in the plot.
One of the most fun aspects of the game is the ability to use these spells, as each spell is drawn a different way on the touch screen. Each level has items in it that you cannot yet reach, or you cannot unlock yet because you haven't been taught the spell yet and so the game is keeping you in constant suspense and awareness of what you still need to learn. Anything that has a red outline surrounding to it is something that you cannot do yet and so you just have to work your way through the storyline and wait to be taught the appropriate spell. The same thing goes for potions, once you have been taught how to mix potions you then have to find the ingredients so you can create a potion which will help you on your way in a mission.
In addition to this each mission has a re-run value as you can come back to play it in Free mode, and by that point you will hopefully have all the spells you need to collect all the items that you missed! This gives it a massively enhanced play time, and as I mentioned earlier I was hooked for the best part of 3 days!
For three days of my life I was glued to it. I didn't read. I didn't use the laptop. I didn't watch TV aside from as background noise to my far more important purpose in life: Harry Potter in Lego form. It came with me to the pub. It came with me to choir. I brought it everywhere. It is almost unheard of for me to complete a game, as I get bored easily, switch to another game then come back to it several months later with no memory of what has happened in the game and start again. I completed this. If you buy this then be thoroughly prepared to lose a large percentage of your life to this game!
The individual missions were fun, engaging and completely absorbing, the overall game was well planned and each mission followed the storyline nicely. The graphics were cute (who knew you could make Lego cute!?), and they even managed to quite nicely convey facial expressions and tones of voice. Considering that the only thing Lego characters do is grunt that is quite impressive. It probably helps that I am somewhat obsessive and so absolutely loved the challenge of collecting every single last stud, hat and brick from each level no matter how long it took me, it probably helped that I am a Harry Potter fanatic and it probably helped that I have no life, but that is not the point! This is without doubt an absolutely fantastic game, which is surprising considering that usually films are bad re-makes of the books and games are bad re-makes of the films. And then you get the fact that this is a game about a toy of a film of a book...it makes my head hurt! It shouldn't work, and yet it does!
It's an easy game to get the hang of, you move with either the D-pad or your stylus and you have a map on the top screen of your DS telling you where you are in the mission, and where you have to go next. It is aimed at the children's market, and so it is aimed to be instructive and not too frustrating to play...which probably means it would really irritate any serious gamer out there! But for me I found this more or less perfect. There is an assumption in the game that you are familiar with the Harry Potter books before playing, and whilst there are cutscenes I suppose if you had no idea of the plot you might get a little confused. Unfortunately that's difficult for me to judge considering I have read all of the books multiple times and watched all the films multiple times!
Ok, I can hear you say, you've been going on about this for long enough now. You've been raving about how excellent it is and yet you have only given it four stars. Why? Well, there were a couple of things that niggled at me and whilst individually they wouldn't have been enough for me to take off a star, together they kind of are. Firstly, it is easy. I don't just mean in the missions sense of the term, although none of them are too challenging either. I mean that if you die you kind of just start off from where you died with very little in the way of repercussions. Yes, this is quite nice in a way, but it also removes a certain amount of challenge in the game, as there is no incentive to actually staying alive. In most games, half the challenge is in knowing that if you die it is going to be very, very irritating and you just don't get that in this game. But in terms of game difficulty, the map tells you where to go at any given point so there's no puzzle, and in later levels every stud you find more or less fills your meter ruining the challenge of having to hunt for them all - that probably irritated me more than anything else!
Secondly, they have at points changed the story of the Harry Potter books/films. I can understand why this is sometimes necessary, but it still irritates me (yes, I'm one of those people who will sit through a film and constantly point out the inconsistencies, just so that I am not the only one irritated by them!). However, I can accept that the narrative has been carefully constructed to make the most out of the gameplay, which does kind of excuse it. And thirdly, as I had to do a certain amount of reading about the background before writing this review, I've discovered that the games on the other non-handheld consoles such as the PS3 are far more challenging with more gameplay in them. Now on one hand I wouldn't have known this if I hadn't have written the review, but now because I have written the review I feel a little bit ripped off to have been given a more simplistic version.
As a whole I would say that the flaws are more than made up for by the fact that the game is engaging, lively and very good fun...along with addictive and appealing to my obsessive side! I did very much enjoy playing it and it's a game I'd be happy to start right from the beginning and play all over again!
This game has just made me buy nearly all of the other Harry Potter games, and the Lego Harry Potter game on the PS3...I think, just maybe, that might be a win! (Well, maybe not for my bank account...or my ability to actually have a life!)
Title: Lego Harry Potter: Episodes 1-4
Age rating: Ages 7 and Over
Release Date: 25 Jun 2010
Price: At time of writing it is available from Amazon at £11.01 second hand and £13.99 new.
Having absolutely adored Lego Star Wars and enjoyed Lego Indiana Jones on the Nintendo DS, I couldn't wait to get Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, as Harry Potter is another of my favourite film (and book) series.
The premise of the game is the same as the previous Lego games: the stories of the movies are played out in Lego form, with all the characters and objects made from Lego. Humour and silliness is usually added in the cut scenes, and you can collect points and special items throughout the game. The games are played in movie order, in the case of Harry Potter this is from The Philosopher's Stone through to The Goblet of Fire (presumably years 5-7 will feature in a separate game at some point after the release of the second Deathly Hallows film).
The game is split into four sections, one for each movie, and within those sections are varying numbers of levels. In these levels you might have to take a lesson to learn spells, sneak around Hogwarts Castle with the invisibility cloak, battle baddies, or do some shopping on Diagon Alley. Some levels have sections where you fly on a broom, and others have chase sequences which are akin to the driving levels of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, although Harry is usually on foot for these.
One of the great things about the Lego games is their playability and fun factor. Lego Harry Potter is as easy as the others to simply pick up and play, and you learn spells along the way. Spells are cast by tracing a shape on the touchscreen of the DS with your stylus, and you run around Hogwarts and the other settings by using the arrow buttons. As with all DS games, I found the controls easy to use and very responsive.
Graphically, Lego Harry Potter is good, certainly matching the quality of previous Lego games on the DS, for those who are familiar with them. Compared to other platforms the graphics aren't brilliant, but they are good DS graphics.
As with previous Lego games, some sections of the story are not included. This is understandable as it would be a very lengthy game to play through though if you had every tiny detail to play. Additionally, not all scenes would transfer well to a gaming format, particularly the DS. However, what jumped out at me in Lego Harry Potter was the addition of scenes. The most memorable of these was during The Chamber of Secrets: when Harry's arm is broken, instead of Madam Pomfrey simply giving him the Skelegro potion as happens in the film and book, it is made into a quest for Ron, who has to run around the grounds finding ingredients. It was quite fun, but I'm not sure I liked having bits added to a story I know and love. Other additions included having to get past prefects when sneaking around the castle, much more so than in the films and books.
On the whole I found the game quite easy and straightforward to play. Instructions were given for each section of a quest or level, indicating your next goal and keeping you on the right path. There was only one section where I was completely lost - defeating the Basilisk at the end of Chamber of Secrets. As with the AT-ATs in Star Wars, I eventually had to concede I had no idea what to do and look up a guide online.
Now, the downside to the game. It just wasn't as much fun as Lego Star Wars, and Lego Indiana Jones as well. The main reason for this was that it had a very prescribed feeling to it - you were more limited to where you could go, you couldn't run around at will in the middle of a quest, and you could only jump when the game told you to. This last one annoyed me most - the characters can only jump when you see a little circle of blue arrows which you tap for them to jump to. This meant there was no risk in jumping - you always make it to the other side of ponds or gaping chasms for example, whereas in previous games you would take a risk and leap, hoping you made it.
I grew used to this "prescribed" feeling as I progressed through the game and enjoyed it more - during the first story, The Philosopher's Stone, I kept telling myself that the game was breaking me in gently and would soon loosen up. This was not the case, although as I say I grew used to the nature of the game.
Overall, I'd have to say Lego Harry Potter was a real let down compared to the fun of Lego Star Wars. This is mainly due to feeling I didn't have much freedom in playing the game, but I think part of the problem is that Lego Star Wars was really so good that the makers of the Lego games can't quite live up it - Indiana Jones was a great game but just not as good as Star Wars, and Harry Potter feels like another step down. I think I was also let down because I really had such high hopes for this game, and I thought it could be brilliant. Sadly, it was not. Lego Harry Potter is a reasonable game, but once you've played Lego Star Wars, it won't match up.
I got this DS game for xmas due to the fact that I love Harry Potter immensely! Having read the books and watched the films I asked santa for this game and I am so glad I did! Lego Harry Potter is exactly what it says on the tin, the game follows Harry, Ron and Hermione through their first 4 years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can play as a variety of characters from a Gringotts bank goblin to Hagrid, the lovable gamekeeper. The game follows the events of the books and films, the only difference is that everything is in lego. Throughout the game you have to complete certain tasks and learn new spells, you even get the chance to ride a broomstick! After each level has been completed you have the option to replay, during each level you earn points. These are little yellow and blue bolts that you pick up, you can also find them from blowing up objects with your wand. You can then use these bolts to buy things, though I must admit I'm more focussed on playing the game and getting through each level!
This game is tricky in places which is good if you like a challenge, I was stuck on the battle with Voldemort in year one for ages! The graphics are surprisingly good but it isn't these that make the game such a triumph, it is the gameplay! I love how it is true to the books and films, if like me you are a Harry Potter fan then I recommend you try it. Fans of the lego games for DS will not be disappointed either, this game has kept me busy for a fair few hours, not a game that will be easily completed in a day.
Initially I was unsure of whether I would like this game as I had never played a lego version game before. As soon as I began to play I could not put this game down. It was exciting and addictive, by far the best game I have played on my nintendo ds.
It is a game for all ages and follows the story line well. My boyfriend played the game too and enjoyed it.
In order to progress through the game you have to learn how to complete different spells and then use these spells to complete tasks and challenges.
It follows years 1-4 closely and you can go back to previous levels and complete the tasks again that you would like to return to. Aswell as the main gameplay, there is a section that allows you to wander more openly through the game areas and in this part there is extra things to complete although I have not yet undertaken this.
Overall this is a fantastic game that is suitable for all ages and interests. A very enjoyable game to play.
Now I have been waiting for this game for a looooooooong time. I am Harry Potter mad and love my DS more that any of my other games consoles (with my PC coming a close second since I purchased Sims 3).
I enjoyed the previous LEGO games (Indiana Jones, Batman and Star Wars) and find them endlessly entertaining and a great tribute to some amazing films.
There are some parts that are better than others (I will come to improvements at the end) but overall this game is awesome. Some good new ideas for collecting those all important studs, film in jokes, levels increasing in difficulty as you move through the films and everything we have come to expect from the LEGO games creators.
The film parts between levels are well executed and will bring a smile to any potter fan as you watch the films re-enacted by the tiny block headed actors.
Finding the chocolate frog cards to enable you to buy further LEGO characters will delight everyone who wants to see how exactly they have managed to create each character from LEGO (and some of them are truly obscure!!)
The joy for me in the LEGO format is completing each level to allow you to play in 'free play' mode with various characters designed to unlock all the special areas and collect the prizes on each level. This is brilliantly done in the DS games as it allows you to choose one main character and then gives a helping hand to choose the right characters to unlock everything in one go (a feature missing from the Wii versions which can be annoying when you pick the 'wrong' characters.
The way in which it is constructed also mirrors that actual films, the levels start off almost mindblowingly simply and really lead you through the action giving you specific actions to complete (this becomes less so in later levels which is great for older players) so great for those kids who enjoy the HP films and nintendo games but arent quite old enough to think through huge logic puzzles of something like Zelda just yet! However for older players this can be pretty tiresome for the first few levels. Fear not, once you get through the first film it improves no end.
Right well I have spewed on about my love of HP enough and now for my criticisms! This game is not perfect by any means.
You wont get it if you dont love HP but then that's nothing new about film games really. There are parts that are quite repetitive and if you havent obsessed over the films you may find this irritating (the amount of time you spend in the charms classroom is a classic example or spend trying to transfigure things to move through levels)
The time characters spend explaining themselves in 'freeplay' can be tiresome as well as they tend to point out things that are either obvious or that you have already done/seen in the film mode. Hermione is particularly annoying to read for some reason (but maybe that is just me...)
On the original DS (and possibly anything apart from the DS XL) the game play is difficult as the stylus is all improtant this time around. I have the original DS and seriously considered upgrading to the XL just to play this properly. The sylus on the screen constantly is fun but can be distracting at times when you just want to punch and run in the old nintendo way! I have had to buy a new stylus too as I realised soon after that the old style blunter stylus' just arent precise enough for spell casting.
Having to hold the Stylus all the time also means that you have to adopt a specific way of holding the DS which is makes it impossible to not look like a loon on public transport! Save it for home time!
So to round up any serious HP fan will love this game just because it is so full of detail but serious Nintendo fans might just want to buy it on the Wii which I will be doing as soon as I complete it on the DS. And lets face it waving your controller around like a wand will be far more fun (and much more nerdy) with the wii than with the tiny DS stylus!
Just when you thought the Harry Potter franchise couldn't get anymore profitable. J.K. Rowling is richer than Queen Elizabeth II and all the Potter movies fall into the top 26 highest grossing films of all time. So what did they decide to do next. Err....., "what if we told the story of the first four films again, but with little figures made out of bricks!" Well TT Games loved the idea and we got the multiplatform video game LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4. Let's have a gander at the DS version.
Because this a LEGO game, you're gonna have to watch the movie its based on before giving it a play through or the cut scenes are gonna seem a little strange as you won't have a clue what's going on. But come one, who hasn't seen the Harry Potter films? Thankfully the charm the LEGO games are known for is abundant here, with some very funny characters. One thing you should know, the DS version of LEGO Harry Potter - Years 1-4 is easily the worst in terms of storytelling. Most of the cutscenes seen here are shortened versions of the ones you'll see on home consoles and one very strange addition is that the characters actually speak during the actual game. You'll notice that what most they'll say are direct quotes from the films. It's just stupid. If I wanted to experience lines from the movies, I'd watch the movies. LEGO characters talking is like Tom and Jerry talking, it's just not right.
The first thing you'll notice when playing this is that is does have touch-screen support and that you can still move around with the d-pad. This is something I would like to see on the Zelda DS games as moving around with the touch-screen is all fine and well, but its nice to have your hand out of the way when travelling from place to place. Speaking of Zelda, this game controls a lot like it. It has a similar point of view and the touch-screen controls are responsive for the most part. The meat of this game is learning new spells and using them to advance throughout the 4 chapters. Your main spell is a simple projectile shooting spell which you can use by dragging away from your character. All other spells in the game have you tapping on spell-enabled objects and then following an on-screen stylus command. Incendio, the fire spell, requires you to draw a flame shape on the screen, Wingardium Leviosa, a simple curve and Reparo, a circle. The transfiguration spell puts you into a simple shape connecting mini-game. All these spells feel good to use, but I think more spells to use in the game would've kept up the variety.
Other moments in the game have you preparing potions by partaking in a Cooking Mama-esque minigame, although this is pretty lacklustre. There's also a character creation tool, but that again, is pretty lacklustre.
LEGO Harry Potter is probably the least combat heavy of the LEGO series. Sure there's a few enemies, but most of the time, the aim of the game is to get from point A to B or to collect or use an X number of items. This is the biggest let-down of the game for me. When I think Harry Potter, I think epic wand duels and unfortunately this is what the game is lacking a lot of. Well, the official game of the Deathly Hallows movie is set to be a third person shooter, so I may get my wish there.
As for everything else, the game is pretty much standard LEGO insert movie title here gameplay. You access levels from a base, collect studs-a-plenty, and spend them on new characters and extras. You'll have a fair amount of time with this game, so as long as your aiming for 100% completion. As far as how pleasing the gameplay is, it's pretty fun for a while. The touch-screen controls make LEGO Harry Potter at least worth playing on your DS, but I just would have preferred a more action-driven game. Of course, this is a LEGO game, and like every other version of the game, it's pretty easy. But that makes it great for kids or for someone who's looking for a not too demanding title. Just don't expect playing this with your friends as the DS version has no co-op. That blows.
Graphically, this game is solid, but nothing spectacular. The game has adopted a top-down view and whilst this does help with touch-screen controls, it does make the visuals seem less impressive. You'll notice a plethora of Potter tunes here I'm sure you'll be familiar with and all those LEGO sound effects you've heard a dozen times before are here. You will notice pixilation and quality loss during the cutscenes however and the music isn't of a higher quality it could be.
So, another multiplatform game for the DS. Should you bother with this, or stick with a home console release? Well, LEGO Harry Potter for the DS isn't a bad game, but the lack of multiplayer, the weaker experience of the story and obviously the poorer visuals make this worth a purchase on a PS3 or 360. And even if you don't have a PS3 or 360, the game just feels too similar to the far superior Zelda DS games. Because of this I can only recommend this game as a rental to those LEGO fanatics out there whose only console is their DS.