Movie tie-in video games are notoriously awful. I’ve played some of the Harry Potter games, and you’d think that using the Wii remote like a magic wand would be great fun, but they always fell short of hooking me in. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 changed all that. Being a Harry Potter nerd and a fan of Lego, I’m going to lay some superlatives on you: This game is my favorite Harry Potter video game (duh), my favorite of the Lego video game franchise (big talk considering previous titles include Star Wars, Batman, and Indiana Jones), and is now one of my favorite Wii games of all time (only Mario sits above it on my list).
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, like the Lego games that came before it, follows the basic plot of its source material, peppering it with fun puzzles and great Lego detail. First off, Lego Hogwarts looks amazing. This being a Warner Bros. title, it looks like the Hogwarts of the movies. You also get to explore places like the Forbidden Forrest and the Weasley House! (I experienced a ridiculous amount of joy de-gnoming the Lego Weasley garden.)
Then there’s the characters. You can play as a bunch of the different main characters, and part of solving the puzzles is figuring out which character to use. Harry is the best on the broomstick while Hermione is hilariously bad, Ron can unleash Scabbers into small places, Hagrid has strength that the other characters don’t… you get the picture.
A good part of the game is learning spells by finding Lego bricks to put into a cauldron. Once learned, you can use spells like Wingardium Leviosa, Lumos, Immobulus, Expelliarmus, and Riddikulus. To get everything you need, you might need to put together a Lego staircase, handle Lego mandrakes, or even use the Invisibility Cloak to get past Mrs. Norris. Pure Harry Potter joy.
What really separates Lego Harry Potter from the other Harry Potter games, though, is its sense of humor. Sure, the characters are preparing to do battle against the Dark Lord, but it really doesn’t need to be so serious? The characters don’t talk for what I’m sure was a long, long list of development reasons, but the outcome of this choice is minifig characters retelling four books of Harry Potter in short, funny scenes. The Lego game doesn’t get hung up on being totally faithful to the books, focusing on great gameplay instead.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 would be great for the youngest readers of the books as well as adult fans looking for some fun. I played it on Wii, but you name it and you can probably play this game on it: Nintendo DS, PS3, PSP, XBox, Windows, and a little owl told me that it’s coming to iOS, meaning soon I can play it on my iPad or iPhone.