Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Nintendo DS) Review

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series, and the Order of the Phoenix feature film, you would be hard-pressed to go a single day without being exposed to the young magician. Whether you switch on your television, browse the web or take a stroll out into your local neighborhood, there will undoubtedly be all sorts of wands, robes, spells and enchantments waiting for you. Of course, the gaming world which so adore has not escaped the force of J.K Rowling’s mystical and magical fantasy world, either…

Before we get started, how about a little bit of background information? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth installment in the ridiculously popular series written by J.K Rowling. The novel was originally released in 2003, followed by a film conversion earlier this year. Of course, where there is a popular film there is bound to be a game tie-in, and Mr. Potter is no exception. In fact, although our focus is on the DS version, this particular title is currently available on the GameBoy Advance, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2/3/Portable, Xbox 360, PC and MAC! Phew. But enough of that, let’s get down and dirty with the game itself.

OotP can essentially be broken down into two key components: quests and minigames. The two of these are tied together with a few static cut-scenes that attempt to piece together the book/film’s plot for you. Unfortunately, even though these are faithful to the original(s), they are extremely diluted and uninspiring. Everything that was tense and exciting in the book and/or film loses almost all of its appeal when compressed into static images and text boxes. Of course, it’s pretty safe to say that most of the people who will be tempted by this game will be Harry Potter fans who know the books inside out, anyway, so let’s move on.

You play as Harry ‘the boy who lived’ Potter and are based out of the Gryffindor common room where you can access previously unlocked mini-games and new plot-sensitive quests. The former are available simply by tapping a large message board with your stylus, whereas the latter are initiated (most often) by chatting with your chums Rom and Hermione. Unfortunately, the game’s key problems begin to present themselves almost as soon as you do so. Each of the aforementioned quests usually entail navigating the expansive layout of Hogwarts in order to perform some menial task, such as fixing a broken item or hunting down a fellow student for a quick chin-wag.

Now, it’s worth noting that the visual design of Hogwarts is excellent and has been based extremely closely on its film counterpart. You will find everything where it should be, from the Great Hall to the always-moving staircases to the courtyard and beyond to Professor Sprouts Greenhouse classrooms. Alas, the novelty of exploring such familiar locations wears off rather quickly for two main reasons: poor camera design and super-repetitiveness. You see, the game’s developers clearly decided to spice things up by changing camera angles every time you load a new area. Whilst this might not sound too bad on ‘paper’, it means that you can be happily traversing from room to room and suddenly find yourself walking back out the way you came because your starting point has been flipped around for no apparent reason.

However, this is not the worst part. Because almost every quest you partake in involves at least some traveling, you will become very familiar with your surroundings very quickly indeed. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if there were interesting diversions along the way, but with the exception of the occasional NPC and wizard duel (which sound far cooler than they really are) this is just not the case. As for the duels, think turn-based role-playing combat massively simplified and you should have a pretty good idea of what’s on offer. Draco Malfoy and his Slytherin lackeys will be your most common opponents (with Ron and Hermione as your allies). Each member of your party has a basic health and magic meter (which dictates how many spells and of what type you can use). All you have to do is select an opponent and a spell of your choice, tap the screen in the appropriate places and sit back and watch.

So, we’ve ascertained that the quests are bit rubbish, but what about those mini-games that we mentioned at the beginning of the review? We’re glad we asked! Thankfully these are really what make the game worth playing. Each mini-game is themed after a lesson (for example Potions or Transfiguration) or a wizard game such as Gobstones or Quidditch. These are subsequently broken down into gradually-increasing difficulty levels. Most are stylus-based, and although the quality varies from game-to-game, the overall ‘fun’ factor is massively higher than that of the previously discussed quest segments. Take Potions for example, to complete a ‘lesson’ you must add the correct ingredients to your potion (by dragging them off of a constantly-scrolling list of items) whilst occasionally blowing into the microphone to keep your flames going and stirring your concoction using the stylus.

Another particularly amusing mini-game is Gobstones, which invites players to flick their stylus across the screen to roll their gobstone towards a hole in the table in an attempt to get it as near as possible without actually falling through the hole (think marbles meets lawn bowling). Other mini-games involve using spells such as ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ and ‘Reparo’, both of which should be familiar to fans of the franchise. To do this, players must perform certain actions such as tapping moving dots on the screen, or tracing a pattern as accurately as possible using the touch screen. Unfortunately, even these entertaining diversions begin to lose their charm after a while, leaving even the most diehard Potter fan with little incentive to continue playing.

Gameplay

The touch screen controls for mini-games are what makes this otherwise broken game worth playing, if only for a little while.

Graphics

Environments contain good attention to detail for the most part, but otherwise this is a GBA game with some extra shine.

Sound

The classic theme tune is here, but everything else is mostly repetitive and forgettable after a while.

Value

A few hours for the quests (if you can bare it) and one or two more for the mini-games, but you won’t be coming back in a hurry.

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Mediocre

About this score

Simply put: the story quests are uninspiring, repetitive and dull, but a good deal of the mini-games are extremely fun and make good use of the touch screen in particular. Is it worth buying? No, probably not, but if you happen to stumble across a copy you could do worse than trying out some of the mini-games – you might even enjoy yourself!

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24.08.2007

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Developer

EA Games

Publisher

EA

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Shame...apparently the Wii game is an under-performer as well, sadly. There was so much potential. Maybe the next entry will be better :sarcy:

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Loving the camp cast picture on page 1, Radcliffe looks very odd...

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

He looks like Elijah Wood...

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