It took the whole weekend, but it’s done. All characters and character variants unlocked and bought; all Hogwarts House crests grabbed; all students in peril saved from peril, whether that peril was a man-eating plant or them just being lazy and oversleeping in a hammock; all gold bricks found; all Achievements acquired. LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 is now completed as a whole, and I’m happy to be moving on from it finally.
Unfortunately, the grinding these LEGO videogames demand is detrimental to their overall quality. I’ve written about this before, and will most likely continue to write about it for the next half-dozen of forthcoming LEGO videogames. I mean, it took how many iterations to get Traveller’s Tales to add a new camera system and voices to their LEGO beings? Yeah, change does not come fast to those developers. So expect the obtuse and exhausting collectathon to continue on for a good while. But since I’ve already gone on at length about that annoying aspect, let’s talk about something else pertaining to LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7: glitches and unforgiving level design!
For a game series constantly billed as co-op friendly, it’s strange that some goals can only be completed solo. Meaning you have to look directly at the person next to you, take their hand gingerly, and say, “Sorry, but you‘re the problem; I need you to drop out.” That’s a pretty cruddy thing to do–to anyone, really–but if you want to unlock the following Achievements, you gotta bite the magic bullet and kick them to the curb:
O Children (20G): Complete the scene where Hermione and Harry dance in the tent
Weasley Does It (25G): Use a Weasley box with every Weasley
What If? (20G): Defeat every Harry freeplay variant as Lord Voldemort
Tara and I tried unlocking all of these as we played the game. We did everything we thought we were supposed to do, and yet nothing seemed to work. I even began thinking outside of the box, using Hermione as a Weasley. For a time there, I thought we were losing our minds, but no, all we had to do was kick my wife out of the game and have me do everything all over again by myself to get them to ping. Boo to that. I mean, all the other Achievements were not like this, and so it has to be labeled as strange. Wonky, even.
More frustrating than the above is the bad level design on Magic is Might from Year 7. In this level, players must make their way through the Ministry of Magic in hopes of stealing a plot-vital item from Dolores Umbridge. After dueling with her, you are chased down a narrow corridor by a swarm of Dementors; this level is set up in the “Indiana Jones and the rolling boulder” sense, with you running towards the screen as danger follows behind. A Hogwarts House crest is hidden behind a golden statue off to the side, and for me, this was the last crest I needed to get; however, time is an issue, and you have to be quick to grab it. If you touch the statue or wall near it, you die, and the Dementors attack your respawned body immediately, pushing you forward. You cannot go back to get the crest without replaying the whole level again, which means you get one chance, and one chance only. Also, if you try to walk past the statue and then go behind it, you die. You can only acquire it by being Fang or Griphook–someone small or fast–and going behind the statue without touching it or the wall. I replayed this level four times before I learned the errors of my way and figured out what to do. Ugh.
Thinking back, LEGO Batman had something just like this, and the proof is in the post. Here’s what I wrote about it way back in the day in October 2009:
LEGO Batman. Sure, I “beat” it months ago, but every now and then I pop back into it to grab some missed items and trying and unlock everything. And I’ve gotten just about everything…that is, but three collectibles. Now, one of them is painstakingly annoying to obtain. Trust me, I tried three times in a row last night. In one of the Penguin’s villain levels, you have to guide your characters down an icy slope, going through five specific flags to unlock the hidden canister. Sounds simple enough, yes? The problem is that if you miss even one flag you are then dropped into the level’s final boss battle room and cannot return to try again. Meaning you must replay the level again and again and…again. I’ve had zero luck so far. Insert heavy sigh.
Gee, that’s the exact same sort of level design used years later for LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7. Whoever comes up with these parts, please stop. I don’t care if you think they are a barrel of fun or there for a reason. Just stop. No one likes replaying levels again and again for a single collectible.
So that’s it. I’m done…until LEGO Lord of the Rings, that is.