I’m always excited about anything
Harry Potter, and am looking forward to seeing the movie when it releases soon.
I will probably even go see the midnight showing, as my daughter wants to do
that this year. My family loves the books, and also has enjoyed most of the
games. However, last year’s Order of the Phoenix for the Wii was probably our
least favorite, for various reasons. None of us have even finished the entire
So, we definitely were hoping that
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince would be a far better game and more
enjoyable. After playing The Half-Blood Prince for several days, I can say that
it is a better designed game and more entertaining than The Order of the
Phoenix. However, it still falls short of what it could have been, and
ultimately is a game that only a true Harry Potter fan will appreciate.
Part of the problem are the
extremely abbreviated and confusing cut scenes that are supposed to explain the
separate game portions and help move the game along smoothly. Well, these cut
scenes don’t explain anything, and will leave anyone who hasn’t read the books
as ignorant after seeing them as before. Our family already knows the story, as
we’ve read the book several times, not just once. But the unread will be in the
The animation in the cut scenes is
adequate, but the characters are a little stiff. However, one shouldn’t expect a
whole lot from realistically styled characterization on the Wii. Cartoon
animation looks great on the Wii; characters that are drawn to look like real
people fare less well. However, the characters look like their movie
counterparts even if stiff, and the voice-acting is well-handled considering
that this time, most of the movie’s actors are not voicing the characters.
The gameplay consists of three
activities that repeat throughout the game: Quidditch, Potions and Dueling.
These three game elements make great use of the Wii-mote, and are quite fun to
play. My favorite is the potions, which requires players to use the Wii-mote to
shake, stir and add ingredients quickly into a potions cauldron. It’s like
Cooking Mama for wizards. Everyone will be whipping up all sorts of concoctions,
moving the Wii-mote in circles to stir, shaking the Nunchuk and Wii-mote
simultaneously to shake the potion, and moving the Nunchuck and Wii-mote at the
same time up and down to fan the fire under the cauldron. There are lots of
different types of ingredients, too.
Quidditch is fun and fast, but may
be too easy for some players. It’s handled "on-rails," where the racing vehicle
is attached to a pre-directed path. In this case, this on-rails effect is mostly
on the curves, where Harry will turn with no help from the player. On the
straightway, though, players will be able to move Harry up and down and
sideways. There’s not much to do besides fly through the hoops, hit the practice
dummies and bat the occasional Quidditch player out of the way, but the control
system is excellently designed and it really does feel like flying.
Dueling is also quite engaging, and
there are many spells to choose. After fighting several duels, players will
ultimately be able to use spells to freeze their opponent, and or hang him or
her upside down. Then, they can blast them with multiple Stupify spells to
finish them off. A few times, the wrong spell would be activated while I was
dueling, but this didn’t happen very often. Most of the time, the controls were
perfectly in tune with the player’s motions.
All three of these activities are
available for further play in the game’s dueling clubs. Dueling, potions and
Quidditch are designed well, and are integrated into the game smoothly. However,
these three activities are really all that is going on. Players will spend the
entire game moving from one of these activities to the other. The only other
thing to do is collect crests and mini-crests. Gathering the crests is fairly
interesting, as spells are necessary for some of them, but collecting the
mini-crests is not much fun at all, and just requires a flick of the wrist every
time a halo of light is seen around an object.
Players can choose to accept "good
deeds" from the lion statues around the school, but these are just more of the
same activities. Successfully completing these deeds will earn more crests,
Of course, players can choose to
spend their time in the game exploring Hogwarts. Just as in the previous game,
the school is fully realized and is enormous. It is pretty cool to roam around
and see all the rooms and areas described in the books. The game is extremely
linear and players will have to go directly from one task to another in order to
finish the game, but they can also choose to wander around the school before
going on to the next task. Nearly Headless Nick is available to lead players to
the next location, which is quite helpful. The novelty of exploration will soon
wear off, though, as there aren’t any hidden surprises to find or collect.
The Half-Blood Prince is a good
game, but it isn’t a great game. The strength of its appeal will be in direct
correlation to the player’s fondness of the Harry Potter world. My family is
enjoying it, but that is because we are Harry Potter fans. For people who
haven’t read the books, or who are expecting a lot of action and mini-games,
this game may be a tad disappointing. It is a shame, as the activities that are
present are quite fun. There really should be more things to do, as in some type
of puzzles or mini-games incorporated into the story. And, more things to
collect in hidden areas around the school, besides just knocking the crests off
Overall, a good game for Harry
Potter devotees, especially preteens or young teenagers, but everyone else may
want to pass.
This latest Harry Potter game is fun enough, but isn’t that wonderful a gaming
experience. It is pretty easy, and is probably best enjoyed by people who just
want to relish the world of Hogworts. The three main activities are all
well-designed, but they aren’t enough to elevate this game above average.
The graphics are adequate, but the characters move stiffly. The cut scenes are
dark and don’t have much detail.
The music is very good and fits the game’s theme nicely. The voice acting is
pretty decent, and the sound effects are good.
This game is not very hard, and is best suited for young teens or for adults who
are not looking for a challenging gaming marathon.
There isn’t anything really new here, but the execution is good.
Players can duel with friends. This is only amusing for a short time.
Reliving The Half-Blood Prince is fun, but could have been so much better. As
this game appears to be focused on exploring Hogwarts and experiencing typical
Hogwarts activities like potions class and Quidditch, it really should have had
a stronger storyline to entertain us. More things to do would have been nice,
and there definitely should have been more types of things to discover around
Hogwarts. Still, fans of the books and movies will enjoy playing.