LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review

Lego Title

Title: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
Developer: TT Games
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 1.2 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Not Available
PSTV Support: Yes

It was just earlier this month that I reviewed a brand-new LEGO title for the PS Vita with LEGO Jurassic World, but the LEGO fan in me just couldn’t stop there.  There are a lot of games in the series for PS Vita, as my reviews have shown.  As they have also shown, there are backwards-compatible LEGO games that can be played via the PSP library.

The PSP library of LEGO games isn’t as numerous as the PS Vita games, and the best one, in my opinion, isn’t on the PlayStation Network still.  That was the PSP version of LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.  However, there are still at least a few PSP LEGO titles I have not reviewed as of yet.  Today, that begins to change.  I am hoping to play and knock out all of the PSP LEGO titles before the end of the next couple months.

In the past, I’ve reviewed 2 of the PSP LEGO titles: LEGO Batman and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.  Going off of my current PSP library, I have another review for you.  A prequel to Years 5-7 that released on the PS Vita, here is my official review of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4!

Story

Lego Story

The story of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 follows just as the title suggests.  Its storyline is a collection of major events and scenes from the first four Harry Potter Movies: The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and The Goblet of Fire.  You will see a lot of scenes from these movies in various levels, though some movies have more content than others.  Specifically, Sorcerer’s Stone has more levels than any other movie, despite those books being longer.

This was before TT Games incorporated Voice-Acting in scenes, so every scene is a deformed version of the initial scene with mumbling (similar to the voice-work in games like Banjo Kazooie) from each character as the comedy scene plays through.  These scenes are the same CG scenes from the console version, even though the look and gameplay of the PSP version is quite different.

Gameplay

Like some of PS Vita titles, LEGO Harry Potter 1-4 doesn’t play the same as the console version of the game.  Instead of using the same engine as the console version, TT Games opted to use a more isometric perspective and much simpler gameplay to incorporate handheld audiences into the Harry Potter universe.  This was one of the first cases where TT Games made an entirely different style of game with handheld releases, which they had continued with a few other games, like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and LEGO The Hobbit.

Instead of having several hub worlds, the game only has one, where you can visit the Shop, the Trophy Room to see LEGO models, and gateways to the story events of each of the four movies.  From the get-go, of course, only Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is unlocked.  You must play through and beat one movie to unlock the next.

The biggest deal people will see in this game is the gameplay style.  Much like games like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril and LEGO The Hobbit, this game uses an isometric, simplified style for gameplay.  The main differences are that you only control one character instead of two, jumping is limited to jumping between platforms, and many of the levels and spells are different between the console and handheld versions of the game.  The base gameplay of shooting objects with spells to break them and using magic to form LEGO creations is still there, but it’s very different from the console experience, which was unlike the majority of PSP LEGO titles.  Even the later releases, like LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t use this simplified style.

As you play through each stage, you will have a party of characters, only one of which will be out at any given time.  There will be puzzles where specific characters or spells are involved, such as Hagrid opening brick walls or solving puzzles to transform objects into other objects.  These puzzles are very simple, for the most part, though one can be a little difficult to get used to.  It’s simple, but a little more simplistic than the LEGO series is known for.  Tied with the ease of each secret area, there is virtually no difficulty in the game at all, even for a LEGO title.

All in all, LEGO Harry Potter isn’t an incredibly long game.  In total, there are 46 story levels to go through and no extra game modes.  I clocked an average of 5-6 minutes for each story level set, so I would clock the entire game around 4-5 hours in length, depending on how quickly you can move from level to level.  There isn’t really any bit encouragement to do more in the game, unless you wish to unlock more characters.

Controls

Controlling the game is very simple, so you won’t have to worry about having a lot of technical controls for this simplistic LEGO title.  Since this isn’t a Vita title, you won’t have to worry about touch controls, though since it is a PSP title, you can use L1 and R1 or L2 and R2 for the trigger commands on the PlayStation TV.

To move your character, you can use the D-Pad or the Left Analog Stick.  The L and R triggers are used to switch the currently-controlled character, and the face button handles everything else.  You use the X button to interact with objects like LEGO pieces or puzzles.  The Square button is used to fire off magic projectiles to attack enemies and break objects.  The Triangle button can be used to activate specific items like mounting a broom, and the Circle button is mostly used for cancelling options in a menu.

All in all, it’s a very simple control scheme that is explained to you pretty thoroughly as you go through the tutorial levels.

Presentation

Lego Game

As far as the visuals are concerned, they are decent, but not great.  Stretching onto the PSTV and PS Vita did make a lot more jagged edges on the models.  It doesn’t look as degraded as LEGO Batman does, but it’s still a pretty fair amount.  There are almost constant jagged edges on the characters as well as the environments.  It’s not terrible for a PSP game, but it’s not good either, especially considering having the camera further from the models should make them look better.

The other downer point about the presentation is that the game suffers from slowdown in some sequences.  LEGO Batman PSP also suffered from frame-rate issues, which may be why they opted this simplified method in Harry Potter.  However, whenever you do sequences where you have to turn a crank, the animation slows down considerably.

Summary

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a unique way of seeing the original four movies told in the LEGO universe.  On the downside, the game has virtually no difficulty, it is only a few hours long with no extra game modes to keep you busy past the story, the presentation was degraded with a lot more jagged edges in its transition to the Vita, and there is considerable slowdown during some puzzles.  It’s still an entertaining experience for Harry Potter fans, but has much to be desired.

6/10

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