For those of you who have been living under a rock, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone or, as it’s known in every other country, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is the book that started the cash cow known as the Harry Potter series. When the movie first came out, games were made to tie in with it for obvious reasons. Despite these games all having the same title, each version differs in a very unique way. It is because of this that I’ve decided to separate each version by section.
Lately I have been in a Harry Potter mood so I decided to replay all my old games again starting with this one. While the game does follow the main story line, it also gives you a feel of actually being a student at Hogwarts. Not only do you learn new spells, you also have to make sure you arrive to class on time or lose points for Gryffindor. Unfortunately the game is not as awesome as you would think it is, but it is still a fun game.
According to Amazon.com this is “less of a game than a tour through Potter’s magical world.” I have to say that I agree with that sentiment. Not only does it let you explore the castle, you also get to attend lessons and learn magic. One part that I really liked was the obstacle course before each class. If you failed to pass it in a certain amount of time, you lose points for tardiness. It made me feel like a student when there’s a chance of being late, though if you have to go through an obstacle course to get to every class at Hogwarts, I can’t imagine many students showing up on time, some of them might have even missed the class completely. The only class you don’t have to run through an obstacle course to get to is Potions, which kind of makes Fred and George’s warning about not showing up late kind of pointless. It’s also ironic, because in the PC version, that’s the only class you show up late to.
Speaking of Potions, the game does a decent job with Professor Snape. While he is still the same snarky bastard we all know and love, or loathe depending on what kind of fan you are, I felt that the game tried too hard to pin the attempted theft of the Sorcerer’s Stone on him. When he sends you to collect fireflies, a mysterious hooded man activates a trap to send you far down into the dungeon. When you come back, Snape is surprised to see you and says that he wasn’t expecting you back so soon. While I can overlook that, there is one scene I cannot get my head around. After Harry gets his invisibility cloak, he decides to snoop around the third floor corridor only to run into Snape talking to Filch. Filch tells him that there’s someone snooping around and Snape reveals that “(he’s) had (his) eye on (the Sorcerer’s Stone) for some time.” So, basically, your way of making us suspect Snape was by making him practically confess that he’s out to steal the stone and then having us fight Quirrel in the end? That’s like making a Chamber of Secrets game where you have Draco Malfoy announce that he’s the heir of Slytherin only to go down to the Chamber of Secrets to find Ginny possessed by Tom Riddle. I get that you’re trying to mislead us, but if you’re going to have Snape say something like that without giving a rational explanation as to why he would say it, you might as well have changed the plot to have Snape steal the Sorcerer’s Stone instead of Quirrell. For those very few of you who have probably not so much as seen the movie, I’m sorry for the spoiler, but if you haven’t at least seen the movie, then it’s your own fault for not catching up with the times.
As I said earlier, the game is essentially a glorified tour and that includes Diagon Alley, the very level I have grown to despise. Hagrid’s dragon gets sick, so you have to go to Diagon Alley to get some ingredients for the medicine. Of course, you have to get money from Gringotts first, leading to six mini-games in general and you have to do really well if you want to get three hidden wizard cards. Did I mention that you have to collect paperwork on a very slippery floor and then go through a roller-coaster ride just to get money that’s floating in thin air? That’s right; any idiot who manages to collect the paperwork can get their money just by rolling the mine cart around and who knows, they might accidentally collect some of your money too. If that’s how Gringotts is, no wonder no one tries to rob you, and yes I am very well aware of what happens in book seven, but we’re not talking about the books. Oh, and after you get all that money, you now have three mini-games you have to play to collect the ingredients, one of them being that you have to chase a pissed-off peacock around Ollivander’s storage room hoping to pluck one lousy feather, and don’t even think about using your wand. In all honesty this level wouldn’t be so frustrating if it weren’t for the very fact that none of this played a role in the story. It just seemed like a desperate excuse to put Diagon Alley in the game and the only thing you really get out of it is that peacocks hate having their feathers pulled out, something I already knew. Well, that and wizard cards, but you could have easily stuffed those cards anywhere around Hogwarts. What’s really frightening is all the work Harry now has to make up because of this. Take it from me, it’s better to have to do a little work every day than have to do this huge pile of work in one whole day, and I really need to take my own advice on that one.
Anyone whose familiar with the world of Harry Potter knows about Quidditch, and it’s not only included in this game, there’s also a whole section devoted to playing it. The problem is, since you’re playing as Harry Potter, the only position available to you is Seeker and it seems like a real pain. While there is an opponent Seeker, all he does is fly through the rings never catching the snitch; if that’s how opponent Seekers not in Gryffindor play, no wonder Gryffindor usually wins. Seriously, the only way you can lose is if you get knocked out and even that is close to impossible when you trade beans with Fred and George for Quidditch armor.
Despite how easy the game is, it’s still pretty fun. The only challenge is collecting all the wizard cards and you can easily consult a walkthrough for that. Still, there were some very frustrating parts that did not belong and you never find out what Fred and George want with all the beans you gave them. I give this game a 5 out of 10, fun but not particularly memorable.