Lego is probably the greatest toy ever, and it is so easy to enjoy the games based upon the legendary blocks. I have enjoyed Lego Star Wars for the Xbox, and Lego Batman, Lego Indiana Jones 1 and 2 for the Wii. The only Lego game I have been disappointed with for the Wii is Lego Harry Potter. For the Wii you have to run far between the different levels, and it all become rather tedious. The setting is also too dark, and the game is too linear compared to the other Lego games. Lego Harry Potter for the Nintendo DS on the other hand has a good level selection portal just like Lego Star Wars for Xbox. The game feels more coherent, and yet less linear.
The game I have on my iPhone 4 is more or less the same game that I bought for my daughters NDS. The main differences being that it cost one tenth on the iOS device compared to the NDS cartridge, and there is no need to play around with a tiresome stylus.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 follows Harry as he enters Hogwarts, and the adventures he experiences during his first semesters. The game is controlled by means of touch controls. Simply tap to move, or hold your finger on the screen to let Harry follow it. Magic is done by gestures where you trace patterns. I found the controls to be responsive, and inventive. Sure when you have to use the same magic five times in a row it can feel somewhat repetitive.
The gameplay in Lego Harry Potter is skewed more towards puzzles than earlier instalments that had a balance between combat and puzzles. Simply swiping between Harry, and the target zaps it into oblivion. If you get hurt it is fairly easy to find health pickups by destroying objects. Overall the combat aspect of the game is easy, and don’t expect any kind of difficulty progressing due to being a poor brawler.
The puzzles found in the game are quite easy as well, and most are self-explanatory. A glowing effect shows what kind of magic is needed to affect the object in question. As you unlock new magic spells further on in the game this gives an incentive to go back, and replay earlier levels. This is probably the main pull of the game. Collecting every hat, every red brick, and unlocking every secret. The game doesn’t force you to feel this is important, but you will feel an urge to get 100% completion of the game. When you load the game you get to know your current percent of completion.
Minigames are often to be found connected to the different spells, and abilities of different characters. Tracing a cog going through a lock to a simple version of tangram these feel interesting, albeit a bit easy. They add a sense of grandeur to the game, and makes it feel even larger than it is.
The presentation of Lego Harry Potter is the best available yet for the iPhone 4 with retina graphics. It smashes the Nintendo DS version in clarity, and I have yet to find any jagged edges or graphical glitches at all. Smooth cutscenes, and excellent graphical effects and lighting effects througout. If you are looking for a game that really feels like a complete console experience for your iOS device this is one of a handful to get. It is easy to spend more than twenty hours running around trying to find every red brick, and hat in the game. The fact that it is enjoyable all the way through definitely add to the must buy nature of the game.
The only real downside to the game is the easy level of difficulty, and there is none of the great pleasure of beating an obstacle when completing Lego Harry Potter. Instead of gritted teeth, and sweaty palms you play this game with a pleasant smile on your face.
I see no reason not to get Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 for any iPhone/iPod gamer out there. You will have hours of fun at the fraction of the cost for the same game on Nintendo DS. As the game is universal as soon as update 4.2 for iPad hits iTunes it will definitively be a treat to all iPad owners as well.
An incomplete, and totally simplified Buyer’s Guide:
If you are new to playing games on your iPhone/iPod Touch: Get it.
If you are new to Lego games, or even Lego: Get it.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, and has already played this on NDS: Get it.
If you hate all that Harry Potter stands for, and loathe the films: Get it.
If you are a hardcore gamer only content playing Samurai II: Vengeance on hard: Skip it.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 $4.99 Universal
Seller: Warner Bros, Entertainment