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Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 DS review

A portrait of plastic Potter, Hogwarts and all

The first thing we scribbled down after beginning LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 was 'GTA'., It's a strange comparison to make but LEGO Harry Potter's game world gives you a similar sense of freedom to do what you want, when you want, albeit in bite-sized episodes. The result is a game that is both familiar and very different in structure to any LEGO game that has gone before.

You move through a series of scenarios populated with characters offering jobs, side quests and pointers. You take your time, gathering up LEGO studs if you want, before heading to the chap with the giant yellow flash above his head for the story mission.

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This way you don't find yourself wandering around looking for the next thing to do. This was always a double edged sword in previous games - you'd have this enormous playground, but the flipside would be not knowing where to go next, which for the series' younger fans would be a real turn-off. Now, there's a marker on your map showing where to go, and there's much less aimless wandering.

Entry Requirements

Moving on from Hogwarts' Room Of Requirement hub, you'll get stuck into the main game where you learn to explode barrels with your wand and levitate perplexed pets. Your magic abilities and several other problem-solving functions are handled by moving the stylus in a set pattern around the screen. Initially it's a pain getting the knack of this as you must follow a marker round the screen at just the right pace, but it's good to see a tangible attempt at touch screen spell casting.

When you draw the Transfiguration shape, a mini-game appears which has you arranging floating shapes into a pattern; a strangely entertaining diversion. This spell proves to be the most fun to cast. Incendio simply requires you to draw a flame shape, Levitation an even more basic curved line.

You learn to broom ride, which provides plenty of chase sections as well as access to secret areas for more studs and pickups. The touch screen seems too small to keep track of nippy targets but as one of a variety of gear changes it's welcome, along with the sneaking sections, the puzzle solving bits and even the boss fights.

Lots to do; great presentation; familiar, satisfying gameplay. What more could you ask for? The only problem is Harry Potter himself. Do the films based on the Potter books have the same iconic moments of a Star Wars or an Indiana Jones? Not quite. They're mighty popular, but until they start doing the rounds on telly more regularly, many of the cute, witty cut scenes here might miss the mark with some gamers. Still, Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is an enjoyable slice of adventuring, packing an impressive amount into that DS cart..


14 comments so far...
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  1. Sonic_Freak Friday 25th Jun 2010 at 14:15

    Great review, so far this game is getting even better scores than all other Lego games across all versions.

    If anyone is after a bargain, Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are Ł24.99 instore at Sainsburys and DS version is Ł19.99 there too. If you don't have a Sainsburys, Toys R Us are doing offers on Wii and DS versions with Wii version for Ł28.99 and DS version for Ł21.99.

  2. Gorsewaygirl Friday 25th Jun 2010 at 15:17

    Excellent review - I've been playing this since yesterday (thank you Amazon!) and it's brilliant. If you love Harry Potter you'll love this, it isn't a direct port of the Wii version it's isometric in style and reminds me very much of the original GBA Chamber of Secrets but with all the lego charm. In fact there are some parts of the game that seem to take there ideas from the original GBA games which I love. The game is huge though, it's going to take many hours to get that 100% completion. As I'm getting through the game I'm learning more and more spells which is opening up more and more areas in sections of the game that I've already played. And I feel it's getting a little harder as I go because Harrys learning I suppose! All of the cut scenes from the Wii version are in there though which is great because they are soooo funny. There is no multiplayer this time round though - at least I can't find it and theres no mention of it in the box. Don't wait everybody this is fantastic - roll on years 5-7 :D

  3. Casplen Friday 25th Jun 2010 at 16:28

    lego charm.

    That was a really bad joke :lol:

  4. bouncer0304 Friday 25th Jun 2010 at 19:17

    I'm really enjoying it too (thanks game for delivering a day early) and feel this is the best lego game out. The only thing that i don't like is that the spells will sometimes not be recognized, but the cut scenes made me laugh! It looks like it's about 10 hours for the story mode (i'm about to start the 4th year) plus many more for free mode. Great game!

  5. PrincessMidna Friday 25th Jun 2010 at 21:35

    Harry Potter yay! I love Harry Potter! Well technically I love Draco Malfoy but you know what I mean <3 My love-life aside, this game looks cool. Didn't play it yet. But I will. You're right though, Potter doesn't really suit Lego but hey, it's Potter so it must be an instant classic. Right?

  6. Shigeru Saturday 26th Jun 2010 at 08:24

    Here's hoping it's better than the main HP series on the DS.

  7. Amethyst Link Saturday 26th Jun 2010 at 13:08

    all i want from a Harry Potter game nowadays is the return of the good old, all purpose Flipendo spell. where did that go, eh? playing Philosopher's Stone on PS1, now they were good times.

  8. Gorsewaygirl Saturday 26th Jun 2010 at 19:02

    Here's hoping it's better than the main HP series on the DS.

    It's twenty times better than the recent ES DS games - I promise you!

  9. shane12234 Sunday 27th Jun 2010 at 07:26

    this game is a lot of fun but when i watched the bonus dvd it said there is an online mode.
    its only on other consoles :cry: why does wii get the .... end of the stick all the time.
    sorry i thought this was the wii review :oops:

  10. HellfireComms Sunday 27th Jun 2010 at 13:18

    When will they stop makeing lego games wats next lego mario? :evil:

  11. Heroofhyrule Sunday 27th Jun 2010 at 20:32

    When will they stop makeing lego games wats next lego mario? :evil:

    Just noticed that you're using a username of a popular youtube channel, which I doubt you own...

  12. rachyrach Wednesday 30th Jun 2010 at 22:10

    Right, I'm in a quandry folks. Which one do I get? The Wii version or the DS one. Someone help me out!

  13. pokemonfanatic Saturday 7th Aug 2010 at 20:32

    I love this game i recommend it to all Harry Potter, lego and game fans.

    Its brilliant and hillarious. The amount of times i burst out laughing after causing people to levitate or when someone dies and lego bricks go everyhere.

    Its the best Harry Potter game yet, it follows the basic plot of the books and films with little changes that make it more appealing.

    Some levels are quite difficult and i do recomend checking walkthroughs if you get stuck as the game does have quite a few glitches.

    Its best to do this two player but you can play on your own.
    You get to brew potions aswell after finding the ingredients most characters have special abilities that ar needed to complete certain levels.

  14. Luke Hayes Saturday 23rd Feb 2013 at 15:29

    I don't really think it exceded the gameplay I was expecting, it seems very limited to what you can do, unlike the rest. :|

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