It’s been more than eight years since LEGO® Harry Potter™: Years 1–4 hit the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Now this vintage Lego game, along with LEGO® Harry Potter™: Years 5-7 sees a comeback as a “remastered” version packaged as Lego Harry Potter Collection for, the system every game developer wants a part of, the Nintendo Switch. This is our Lego Harry Potter Collection Switch review!
Who is This Lad Harry Potter?
Going into this review I knew I had never played a Lego game extensively, even though I own quite a few on different platforms. I also knew superficially the lore behind Harry Potter. I’ve seen parts of the movies, even though I own them all on Blu-Ray (yes it’s on my list of things “to do” one day). So, after all, is said and done, I’m not what my kids would call an expert or elitist. I probably rank as a “newbie” Pottersville fan as I’m fully versed in matters of the angel Clarence and George Bailey… oops, wait that’s the wrong Pottersville.
My lack of Harry Potter lore in this case certainly shines a different perspective on this review, mainly because it quite possibly hindered my complete enjoyment of this game. This collection is broken down into the two original games, in fact, as can be seen in the banner picture above you choose to play years 1-4 or years 5-7. That alone might be cause for concern, was this just a straight “port” to the Nintendo Switch? The game is certainly a great collection of spell-casting, potion-making, puzzle-solving, driving, duelling and platforming that a player of any age can enjoy. The game plays well in docked and undocked mode. The graphics are crisp but the CGI cutscenes showed some pixelation on the character model edges on a 24″ monitor so the game does show some age.
No one can complain that the Lego Harry Potter Collection for the Nintendo Switch isn’t fun. The problem is trying not to compare it to the more modern day Lego games, e.g. Lego DC Super-villains. One such example is this game has no spoken cut scenes to help deliver the game’s story. Cutscenes do have sound but they are grunts, oohs, aahs etc. to help convey characters’ emotions so if you’re not semi-knowledgable in Potter lore you might be confused as to what exactly is going on and why. Heck sub-titles would have helped in some instances. It’s tough to fault the game since it’s based on technology from eight years ago but when the game is priced at $49.99 USD, which is on par, but slightly below the cost of modern day Lego games one has to ask am I making the right buying choice?
I can alleviate this fear somewhat by telling you that there is quite a bit of game here for the price and taking part in a Sorcery based fantasy setting was still enjoyable even for someone who knows very little about Harry Potter. The usual Lego game antics are contained within. Plenty of squad-based jumping, puzzle solving and Lego “stud” collecting is abound. In similar Lego games smashing and bashing things usually drops Lego studs for collecting, here a lot of that is accomplished by waving your wand and a particular spell at a highly visible object.
Dumbledore I Need You!
Unfortunately, don’t expect a lot of clarity in Potter lore, even some of the “hints” could use a bit more direction. At one point a flashing message appears telling you to “go to lessons” to learn new spells. Being an RPGer I went looking for a menu or spell selection screen when in actuality the game wanted you to go to the adjacent “lesson room”. Even browsing through the shops in the Leaky Cauldron it wasn’t always clear to me what I was buying, or in some cases, earning.
To add more value to the steep price tag this collection also includes two previously released DLC packs, including a Character Pack featuring Godric Gryffindor, Harry (Yule Ball), Helga Hufflepuff, Lockhart (Straightjacket), Luna (Lion Head), Peeves, Hermione (Pink Dress), Ron Weasley (Ghoul), Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin, as well as a Spell Pack featuring Cantis, Densaugeo, Ducklifors, Melofors and Tentaclifors. Some of these bonus names/costumes are familiar even to an aspiring Harry Potter fan like me. To top that off each level might require visiting it more than once if your a completionist to get that 100% complete achievement.