Review by TimmyVermicelli
"Harry Potter's first outing proves to be not very magical at all..."
Harry Potter. The young wizard who has spawned countless books, films, websites and unfortunately, games. Now I for one like Harry Potter books, and I enjoyed the films. However, with the pleasure of them comes the pain of the massive library of Harry Potter games on nearly every console ever ranging from PS1, to the PC, to the XB, to the PS2, and even to the quite obsolete Mac. But are the mind-boggling "magical" adventures any good whatsoever? Well, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the PS1 was the first in the series, and, as this review shows, it was a wasted opportunity.
One of the worst things about Harry Potter ATSS was the fact that all the way through the game you knew there was more potential. Everything was underwhelming. So much more could have been used. Throughout the entire game, you can only learn about 5 or so spells which is passable, but very disappointing. The lessons, which consist of pressing a button at the right time, are stupid. All the spells you learn only come in handy once or twice. It all seems like such a wasted opportunity. It's not all bad though.
One of the main features of the Harry Potter books has to be Quidditch. The idea's novel, sporty, fun, and eventful in the books. In the game, again, it fails to achieve the book's magic sparkle. Instead, it is boring, unrewarding, incredibly easy and unforgivably short. As Harry, you fly through golden rings "emitted" by the Snitch which makes you a little faster. You are being chased, albeit slowly, by another seeker, but the challenge is pitiful. When you do catch up with the Snitch, press X and you grab it. Stupidly, it gives a whole minute to press X. Yes it's for kids, but that is just way too easy. Once you catch the Snitch, it's game over. You win the match by default and isn't even a score at the end. Quidditch is another gameplay element that has so much potential but flops badly. A waste.
The platforming elements in HP ATSS are elementary. It doesn't even require a button press to jump. Simply run off the edge of platforms and you'll automatically throw yourself into a gravity-defying leap. While this is quite cool at first, you'll soon realise it's just plain annoying. If you try and drop down off a bookcase for example, and you run too fast, you'll launch yourself off, hurting yourself and possibly killing yourself. And there's just about nothing you can about it. Overall, the platforming is okay, but the game uses it too often. It is passable though.
On the brighter side, however, there is a lot of edibly nice graphics and graphical effects. Spells are spectacular, the lighting is revolutionary for a PS1 game and the textures and frame rate are nothing short of great. The outside areas are lavish, the indoor disappointingly bland but they do the job. The character models are okay. Harry, Ron and Hermione are accurate and quite good and the others, while obviously bland, are okay. Dumbledore deserves an honorary mention, his brick beard is a classic.
Another reasonably good element is the lock-on duelling. When fighting an enemy, chances are you'll miss with an untargetted Flipendo (Knock-Back Jinx). Lock-On to them, however, and you'll engage them in a cool fight. The enemy will use a long range attack and Harry must dodge it while powering up a Flipendo. Launch the Flipendo at maximum power to knock the enemy off it's feet. Keep dodging and attacking and you'll eventually beat each enemy. Killing an enemy gives you a sense of skill, and it does take a fair amount of skill to beat each enemy. Bosses are incredibly hard sometimes, but each boss generally uses the "dodge - hit - repeat" method.
Other extras do quite well to lighten up the monotony of the main game. The mini-games are simple but untampered fun and are very rewarding. The collecting process is huge, with over 300 Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans spread out all over the castle, it's grounds and Diagon Alley among other places. The Witches and wizards cards are quite hard to find too, and you'll have to search high and low and find hidden challenges to get every one. If you're a collector, you're going to have to have some motivation to complete this game 100%.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is an okay little game. It's primarily for young-one's though, so if you like Harry Potter, and you're not six, tread carefully. However, with the newest instalments available on the newest consoles, all of which improve on almost every aspect of this version, Potter nuts may find more satisfaction in looking elsewhere for their extra thrills.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 05/31/05, Updated 01/06/09
Game Release: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (EU, 11/16/01)
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