HP Aftermath: A guide to the best and worst Harry Potter video games

The end of the Harry Potter film series means the end of many things, among them its licensed video game franchise (Or does it?) HP's future might seem tenuous with the final film's release. But it's the perfect opportunity to look back at Electronic Arts' Harry Potter gaming franchise.

How did it all start? The gods of the consumer society proclaimeth: The fruitful book begets the movie adaptation, and the fruitful movie begets the video game adaptation. And so spawned the Harry Potter video game that was based on the film that was based on the book. The result? A crop of big-corporation licensed titles -- few good, many downright horrible.

If you're looking for an interactive Harry Potter experience, J. K. Rowling's upcoming fansite might be a better choice. Still adamant about gaming, HP-style? Look no further. Laser Orgy has highlighted some of the best and worst Harry Potter video games made:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - PC, Playstation

The premise:
It's a simple over-the-shoulder puzzle/adventure game that gives Harry a few spells to defeat enemies. Instead of focusing on the action, you spend the majority of the time solving puzzles and collecting various items.
The verdict: The first Harry Potter game ever, before EA moved the game (with the new name of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) to GameCube, Playstation 2 and Xbox in 2003, this is a heartfelt but failed attempt to bring Rowling's magic to the gaming world.
Tip: If you own the 2003 PC version, here's a video on how to control Hogwarts through the wizardry of computer game-hacking.

Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (2003) - GameCube, Xbox, PS2

The premise:
It's Quidditch. Performing combo passes/shots builds up the Snitch meter. When your meter is full, the game moves into Snitch Chase mode, and each team's seeker uses the meter as a speed boost to catch the Snitch. Catching the Snitch nets you 150 points and ends the game.
The verdict: Quidditch sounded like such a captivating sport that college-aged Muggles around the world began to play it. But simulating a fictional sport is no easy task. While EA got some things right, the controls are sluggish, and it's too easy to defeat the enemy AI.
Tip: You can charge shots by holding down the shoot button.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) - PS3, Xbox 360, Wii

The premise:
It's a lot like Bully, the open-world game in which you explore a vast private school campus. As Harry, you can wander freely around Hogwarts, choosing to learn spells, duel Slytherins, discover secret passageways or complete missions.
The verdict: 10 points for Electronic Arts! The ever-expanding corridors and hidden rooms of Hogwarts are beautifully rendered -- without a HUD to clutter the screen. The voice-acting and music comes directly from the film and add to the Harry Potter atmosphere. Not everyone liked it, but it's the first HP game made that's actually fun to play.
Tip: Achieving some of the game's 4360 discovery points makes your spells more powerful and unlocks goodies in Moaning Myrtle's Room of Rewards. You can earn discovery points  by being a good citizen and repairing pots with Reparo around Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) - Nintendo DS

The premise:
It's an adventure game. And by "adventure," I mean "running down a hallway to fetch Fay Dunbar's marbles, then spending hours trading cards with another random girl." As IGN put it, "EA has managed to take a world brimming with magic and turn it into the most tedious, mundane game possible."
The verdict: Atrociously boring and the worst Harry Potter game ever made. Who knew the magic of the wizarding world could be reduced to a series of mindless and banal chores?
Tip: Avoid it like the Dementor's Kiss. 

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (2010) - Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The premise:
If you've played any of the LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean games, you'll know what to expect. You can play as nearly every character from the first four books (including Cho Chang, Mad-Eye Moody and the Weasley twins) in a co-op fixed-camera adventure game, battling simple enemies and using the environment to forge through levels.
The verdict: LEGO Harry Potter is the best Harry Potter game -- and others agree as well. It's sad that out of the 10+ games based on the films, it turns out that the best HP game is based on LEGO and produced by Warner Bros, not EA.
Tip: Look forward to LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, which hits shelves this November.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011) - Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The premise:
What better way to continue the recent Potter craze than with the video game version of the epic cinematic finale? I'm not sure, but like Part 1, this game is a more repetitive version of Gears of War put in the HP universe. Hide under cover and shoot at enemies, move to next cover, rinse and repeat. Basically, Petrificus Totalus is your sniper rifle, Expulso is your machine gun and Impedementia is your rocket launcher.
The verdict: This game is the typical licensed movie game -- above-average production value, generic art design and uninspired gameplay. Not worth the $60 pricetag.
Tip: Near the end of the game, Harry learns to apparate, which teleports you from cover spot to cover spot.

While none of the Harry Potter games were that great, the end of the film franchise actually may prove to be a good thing for its video games. Warner Bros. should consider investing in creating original, HP-themed games for the millions of fans still hungry for Hogwarts adventures. So the best Harry Potter video game may be yet to come. Star Wars, for example, which ended its film series years ago, still has something very exciting due later this year -- and it's a video game.

Finally, if neither these games, nor the prospect of better future titles, give you your HP gaming fix, you could try out a Harry Potter handheld game -- or just come up with your own, like Kokatu did.

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