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Harry Potter gets the Zelda treatment


February 17, 2015

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    This week I dug in the archives and played a game my editor suggested. I never played the game when it was released back in 2001, so I guess it's better late than never. Known in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and in Europe as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the game follows the story of young Harry Potter as he becomes a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The game was published by Electronic Arts and developed by a number of developers across many platforms: KnowWonder (PC), Argonaut (PlayStation), Warthog (Gamecube, PlayStation 2, Xbox), Griptonite (Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance), and Aspyr (Mac OS X, port of PC version).
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone generally follows the original novel and movie adaptation from Warner Bros. The game goes through Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts. There are lots of non-playable characters (NPCs) to talk to and even more random monster encounters to defeat. The game plays as an adventure game similar to The Legend of Zelda with many role-playing game mechanics.
    Players will learn skills and spells as they progress through the story. Players learn new spells as the battle monsters and can also learn a few by mixing and matching the famous witches and wizard cards collected. You can also collect ingredients for potions while exploring the secret surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone and earning points for house Gryffindor.
    The game gets a lot right and was a lot better than I expected from a game over 10 years old. Potter fans will be happy to know the game includes lots of characters and monsters found within the Harry Potter universe. The characters were easily distinguished and looked like the motion picture counterparts. The dialogue is strong and very accurate to what is expected from a Harry Potter experience.
    The game suffered from a few blemishes but none truly took away or rendered the game unplayable. First of all, the game doesn't explain a lot of things found in the world; if you aren't a Harry Potter fan, you will be left in the dark. Audio and sounds could have been a lot better for such a famous title. Also, sometimes I grew a little angry at areas that took too long to get to a save point. There was also a gameplay fatigue given how big the school was and the repetitive monster encounters.
    Although lots of points from the story were left out of the game, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone stayed true to the books. Even though gamers who haven't watched the film or read the book may have many blank spots, there is a lot to do and explore in the game. Many of the elements presented are very addictive and testing out different combinations of various cards to see the effects on your spells are gratifying. If you aren't a Potter fan I wouldn't expect this game to convert you to one but current Potter fans will be pleased with what is found in the title.

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