Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban is the third book, the third movie and the fourth game of the series. I’ve read all 5 books, I’ve seen two of the movies, and this is my first Harry Potter game. Yes, I am a fan.
Sirius Black, prisoner of Azkaban, escaped from his cell and now Hogwarts and Harry Potter are on alert. Sirius is an old student of Hogwarts and knew Harry’s parents very well, the cut scenes tell you more about the story but seeing these without reading the book first seems kind of pointless. Anyone buying this game has probably read the book already, so no big deal.
There is no real reason (other than suspense) to hold off the verdict, so I can just as well let you know right now that this game is quite good.
It’s a third person adventure with some magic wand action. You run along with Harry, Ron or Hermione to complete the missions you receive at Hogwarts. Not everything in this game is true to the original story, but that’s understandable to create some interesting gameplay.
A typical mission would be to find a book for a teacher, and responsible as those teachers at Hogwarts are you will have to face little flying monsters to jinx, jumping from platform to platform avoiding to fall into a void and pushing around boxes and/or ice cubes onto switches to activate certain events.
The game reminded me of “Lost Vikings” and a NES game where you had a top view and constantly had to push around ice cubes to solve puzzles.
Just like in “Lost Vikings” every character has his own special abilities and more often than not you’ll have to complete different aspects of the mission with each of the characters.
Harry is the only one who can jump, he can jump over an abyss but does this automatically; the moment he reaches the border he will jump to the other side. I liked this, I hate games where I have to try and jump from platform, over, and over, and over again. I still remember watching my sister trying the same platforms in Donkey Kong 2 over and over again for an hour on the SNES. I went nuts just watching it.
Hermione can crawl under small passages. While Harry and Ron lift a fence to a small extent she can crawl under and solve the puzzles that lay beyond.
Ron is the sneaky one, he has the ability to detect hidden things. A secret doorway, flavour beans in closets, …
Next to their basic skills they will learn new spells, which only that person can use. And of course, those spells will be crucial to complete certain missions.
The one thing that made me use my jinxing powers against my own characters was their incredible level of impatience. It is impossible to explore a bit of Hogwarts or to go and look for some beans without going crazy by the constant “Can we go now?” “Shouldn’t we get going?” “We are running late!” whining of those little brats, man what a bunch of over-achievers. On the other hand, if you have some trouble with a puzzle somewhere, one of the characters is bound to say a hint after a while (yes, I admit I had a problem with a puzzle in this kid-game although most puzzles are really straight forward and not really challenging).
The graphics look really nice, I really liked the outdoors of Hogwarts where I had a chance to fly with a gryphon; all of the sudden I almost thought I was playing World of Warcraft where the same scene has been repeated in gameplay-movies over and over again.
That made me think, an Harry Potter MMORPG, what would that be… Should be fun I reckon, having four guilds already at Hogwarts, lots and lots of magic. There is even the possibility to have a brute force barbarian-like character if you look at Hagrid.
Who knows, time will tell.
As for this game, it was fun and entertaining but it lacked some depth overall. This is a great game for children that like Harry Potter; for all the rest of us it’s a nice game, but nothing really special.