If I wanted to be dramatic, I’d start this post off with something like, “I thought this day would never come!” But it did. I knew a few days ago that the Xbox 360 demo for LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 would be released soon, and all I had to do was wait, then download it, and then fall in love. Simple as that.
The demo comes in two parts. The first section opens up in a classroom setting with Professor Flitwick teaching his students how to perform the levitation charm Wingardium Leviosa. This is a pretty iconic scene in the movie/book as we really get a good sense of who is good at magic and who isn’t; in that vein, Ron is a total flop and I don’t suggest using him, but Hermione can pull off the spell with ease. We’re tasked with rescuing three students trapped up in the rafters, and using some spells to move items around (kind of like using the Force in LEGO Star Wars) to solve several puzzles, they are all quickly saved. Not much else to do except beat up some books so we’re off to the next scene…
…which involves Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Fang, and Hagrid! A demo after my own heart. See, Hagrid is my absolute favorite character in the books. We’re heading into the Forbidden Forest as punishment for sneaking around the castle after “lights out,” and as expected, then divided into two teams. Harry has to deal with a unicorn while Draco is more or less the wuss he’s always been. I got to control Ron, Hermione, Fang, and Hagrid, and this section really shows off a lot of gameplay.
Like in previous LEGO games, a lot of progression relies on using different characters and their abilities for specific purposes. What’s nice here is that, since a lot of the characters are wizards, instead of swapping weapons and people, you’ll be selecting new spells instead. At my disposal for the Forbidden Forest level were two spells: the previously learned Wingardium Leviosa and a spell for dealing with the local violent plant life that I can’t recall that name of. Fang can dig up stuff (and climb a ladder, which looked ridiculous), and Hagrid wields a crossbow, as well as his magical umbrella. Again, don’t bother using Weasley.
You destroy things, you collect studs, you solve puzzles, you collect a host of other items, and you move forward, putting to memory all the stuff you missed or couldn’t unlock yet. It’s a LEGO game, and it’s going to be good fun when it comes out. The Harry Potter world is seemingly a perfect fit for the formula, and I’m really curious about all the stuff not shown in the demo: class lessons, Diagon Alley, riding on broomsticks, co-op, and so on. The few cutscenes work well too, relying on mute characters and a previous knowledge of the plot to hit home some humorous moments.
But speaking of collecting, there’s going to be a lot to gather up. There’s four pieces of the Hogwarts crest to find in each level, as well as a student in peril, true wizard status, items that unlock special characters, studs galore, and gold bricks. Probably more, too. Definitely gonna keep one busy for a bit.
Ultimately, I’m really looking forward to LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 releasing at the end of June. And then visiting the actual castle in October.