Tag Archives: Hogwarts

Casting Relashio on the ho hum Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

I’ve been meaning to uninstall Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery for months now. Yes, I have known for quite a while that this is not the kind of digital Harry Potter experience I want, which means they need to reveal whatever that open-world thing is as soon as possible or I must finally play my cheap-o copies of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the PlayStation 2. Heck, LEGO Harry Potter did a much better job of immersing me in the fantastic and fantastical world of wizards, muggles, and a secretive school for learning magic.

The game is naturally set in Hogwarts, but before the events of J.K. Rowling’s novels, featuring a customized protagonist, who you can see above in this blog post’s prominent screenshot. Yup, that’s me, eating the world’s largest sandwich. Alas, he probably looks like a lot of other players’ avatars because the customizing options are fairly limited or locked behind spending high amounts of your precious gem currency…just to get a different hairstyle. Anyways, your homemade student is a first-year and can attend magic classes, learn spells, battle rivals, and embark on quests. So long as you have the time.

Throughout Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery‘s story, players are able to make choices that affect the game’s narrative. Occasionally, these choices are locked if the player’s statistics are not high enough. As expected, your avatar will be interacting with notable characters from the series, such as Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid (aka, the best character ever), Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall. The main plot starts with your character meeting Rowan Khanna in Diagon Alley, a young witch or wizard–I think if you pick a male avatar, Rowan will also be male because Melanie’s Rowan was a young woman–who teaches the player all about the wizarding world. Later, a conversation with wandmaker Ollivander reveals that the player character’s brother, Jacob, was expelled from Hogwarts for attempting to open the “Cursed Vaults,” a hidden vault rumored to have existed at the school.

As a free-to-play mobile game, it naturally features a system with tasks costing energy to perform. Look, it’s just a staple of the genre now, so to speak. You have to tap on the screen–really specific characters or objects–to use energy during quests; when you run out, you can either wait for it to recharge over real time or pay gems to add more (don’t ever do this). The player also gains different levels of courage, empathy, and knowledge via the choices they make, and higher levels of a particular attribute allow the player to choose some different dialogue options or change the interactions of other students and staff. You won’t be surprised to learn that I focused mostly on empathy throughout my short, two Ravenclaw years at Hogwarts, because I’m a caring soul.

Here’s the part that I found really frustrating in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Many of the quests are limited not only by a specific amount of energy, but also time. For example, say you are trying to learn a new spell. Well, you have only an hour to complete the quest, and you end up being a few energy taps short after your first go at it. Obviously, you just need to wait a bit and come back to it, but I don’t like feeling tied to my cell phone all the time, and I’d often only return way later to learn that I had failed the quest and would have to do it all over again to progress.

The game looks quite good, but the writing is disappointingly bland. There are occasional moments of interesting stuff, but the side dialogue during quests is so generic it might as well not even be there. Every now and then you get asked a magic-related question to answer, and the questions are beyond easy, even for someone only faintly aware of the Potterverse. Dueling other students and casting spells is neat, but mostly just involves tapping and relying on a rock, paper, scissors outcome. Honestly, the waiting around for your energy meter to recharge wouldn’t be too bad…if you had more to do in Hogwarts. But everything requires energy. You just jump from space to space, looking for something interesting to engage in, and, shockingly, at a school where a professor can turn into a cat or staircases move on their own, there is nothing special to engage in. What a shame.

Ultimately, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery made me feel like a prisoner of Azkaban, demanding I check in on it sooner than later, and I am deathly afraid of Dementors…so no thank you.

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LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 is done casting Crucio on me

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.

Harry Potter and the LEGO videogame logjam

Let’s start with a quote from one wise and mysterious Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore:

Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

We’re there, evidently. The dark and difficult times in particular. That not-so-sweet spot in every LEGO videogame where one must grin and bear it to collect everything that remains because OCD demands it, as well as the fact that a straightforward playthrough unlocks a minimal amount of the game’s actual content. For LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7, we’re talking about red bricks, gold bricks, unlocked characters, Hogwarts house crest pieces, and students in peril.

Since completing the main part of the game earlier this month, Tara and I have been diving back into the world of magic and magical mayhem to chip away at the tower that is a 100% completion rank. It’s a slow process. Unimaginably slow. Like Dumbledore falling off the Astronomy Tower slow. Thankfully, we finally unlocked enough red bricks to turn on numerous stud multipliers and rack up the LEGO-based cash, quickly earning this zinger:


Knuts and Vaults (50G): Collect 1 billion studs (Single Player only)

So, we’re rich. Just like Harry Potter was in the beginning of his school career. Which is great, as now purchasing all the characters we’ve unlocked isn’t even a concern. But the problem is mainly finding the characters to unlock. Let me tell you this–there is nothing more tiring and/or disappointing than replaying a level via the free play format and then complete it without finding all the hidden secrets in it. Your mind immediately brings the hard truth to the front: you will have to play this level again. Possibly a fourth time if you are not diligent enough or paying attention to the level design, because sometimes building a specific LEGO piece completes the level, and you might not have been ready to do that yet. Whoops.

But we’ll keep on keeping on. Two more red bricks to go, about 35 gold bricks, and maybe 60ish more characters/character variants left to find. Oh boy.

The LEGO logjam has also been heavily present in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. For a long, long time. I only have three Achievements left to unlock for that game, but they also require me finding everything. Which I’ve tried time and time again. But like I previously wrote, there is nothing more fun-sucking than replaying a level to not find everything and then knowing you’ll have to do all that again. Ugh.

At some point, I’m going to have to play these levels with a step-by-step guide open next to me on my laptop. And really, that isn’t how it should be done. But it’s the best guarantee at breaking down this dam.

Magically easy money strategy in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

There’s lots of things to buy in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. More so than any other LEGO games. Spells, characters, Gold Bricks, Red Bricks…oh yeah. One’s going to need a lot of studs–the LEGO equivalent to real world money–and I’m here to show y’all a good strategy for acquiring lots of them as you play. Yes, I’m totally aware that simple password cheats exist to help you rack up the studs via multipliers, but personally…that comes across as cheating in my mind. I’d rather earn everything over time than just simply unlock it all in under 30 seconds.

Anyways, once you have access to the Foutain Courtyard at Hogwarts (which further gives you access to the Quidditch Training Field and the Clock Tower), you’ll be able to destroy all the statues around the fountain. Do this. Then use Wingardium Leviosa on the resulting pieces to unlock a Red Brick, also known as a parcel for owl delivery. Bring it over to the local owl, and you’ll unlock the Red Brick for Collect Ghost Studs. Immediately go to Diagon Alley and purchase this ability, which I believe costs like 90,000 studs; the sooner you turn it on, the better your bank account becomes.

During the main missions of the games, a ghost (Nearly Headless Nick, I believe) will be your guide around the castlegrounds and to your next important location. He leaves behind a trail of ghostly studs, which, without this new ability unlocked, give no actual…uh, studdage. Once you do turn this extra feature on, each ghostly stud gives you 1,000 studs. Ka-ching, ka-ching! Now all you gotta do is follow him around each and every time, sometimes leaving an area and coming back to follow him some more. The studs will accumulate really fast. Once you’ve completed all four years, however, the ghost will no longer be active…so, the sooner you get this, the better. Remember, the spell Accio costs four million studs. Let me show you what that looks like in number form: 4,000,000. Get to it!

I’m currently replaying the game solo to collect EVERYTHING as my OCD demands and finish up the Achievements list. I’m leaving the game data Tara and I played together alone until we can get explore the castlegrounds as one happy couple; she’s gonna be so excited to unlock Mad-Eye Moody. Heck, I was thrilled to see that Neville could use his pet frog! This game should really be called LEGO Harry Potter: Fan Service. I’m still very happy with a lot of it, too, but the boss battles disappoint me each and every time.