I sort of like action movies. They aren’t my favorite and they aren’t my least favorite – they just kind of exist as a side thought for me, only particularly inspirational when at the height of its genre. Essentially, I’ve never been one to enjoy explosions. But somehow, in LEGO Harry Potter, I am greedy for them.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 was released in 2010 with its sequel Years 5-7 following in 2012. It definitely suffers from being a not-Mario 3D platformer at times, with jerky movements and difficult to predict jumping arcs which can make precision an impossibility. And while it’s better than the GameCube-era Harry Potter titles, the level design and pacing and every other aspect of the game can all be considered “fine.” But something the game absolutely nails on the head is the world of Hogwarts, and the feeling of blowing up everything around you.
For some background: when I was 10 years old, playing Neopets: The Darkest Faerie on my best friend’s PS2, I would stop at every single patch of grass to cut it to get money. I didn’t care that I had 6 other impatient kids begging me to play the actual game, my greed and completionist tendencies forced me to stop every single time, even when my precious gaming hours were running short. LEGO Harry Potter feeds this exact same kind of urge with its various spells, especially Reducto. Every room in the game follows the same satisfying pattern: you walk into a messy room, blow up everything around you, collect money, Wingardium Leviosa some stuff, collect money, blow up that stuff you just put together, and then collect more money. Suddenly, the room is clean, and despite technically having done nothing to advance anything, you still feel a sense of progress.
Years 5-7 don’t succeed quite as fully with this, leaving things you’ve already completed able to be completed again, therefore never letting a room feel fully checked off your list. However, Years 5-7 absolutely kill the world-building, letting you move out of Hogwarts in into Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾, Hogsmeade, the forest, and the castle all in one smooth pathway. In Years 1-4 you can also visit the Quidditch pitch, but I’m happy to make that sacrifice in order to feel like I’m actually moving through the Wizarding World.
LEGO is very good at making Fine Video Games. I’ve played their Star Wars series, as well as 100%-ed LEGO Lord of the Rings (one of my finest gamer girl achievements, if I do say so myself). Overall, I think they are all very good video games to play multiplayer, especially with filthy casuals like myself. No matter what, I don’t think I’ll find another game, LEGO or not, which gives me that same deep evolutionary pleasure that comes from a clean room and a full wallet. For any completionists out there: give it a shot. It’s worth every blocky, stud-filled second.