I fully admit it: I love to daydream about how awesome it would be to have the magical powers invariably given to video game heroes.‚ That has never been truer than during my play-through of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for Nintendo DS”"I couldn’t stop fantasizing about Apparating out of this game and into another one.
Developer: EA Bright Light Studios
June 30, 2009
Harry Potter and the Half-Hearted Adaptation is an attempt to capture all the nail-biting drama of the sixth installment of a seven-part mega-series and distill it into a DS-shaped sleeping pill. In this respect, it succeeded beyond my most generous expectations.‚ The cel-shaded artwork is admirably executed, but ultimately damaged by its faithfulness to the film actors’ likenesses: characters are difficult to tell apart and their stilted movements rely too heavily on motion capture techniques.‚ As I steered my little Harry Potter around the grounds of Hogwarts, I had the eerie sensation that I was really driving a miniature Daniel Radcliffe around a studio lot.‚ The shamelessly incoherent storytelling and expressionless dialogue only deepened my feelings of alienation towards these tiny, pixilated actors as the game progressed.‚ Major plot points were displayed as bland, disjointed cutscenes, leaving me in control to run around school just in time for the boring stuff.
Speaking of Hogwarts, the unabridged castle maps are probably the best part of the game.‚ I remember receiving the first Harry Potter tie-in game as a gift from well-meaning relatives years ago, and I was disappointed by the limited exploration opportunities.‚ Like Tomb Raider II, the most fun part wasn’t shooting the tigers but locking the farting old butler in the meat locker and roaming about your awesome digs!‚ I do wish there were more magical elements integrated into the environments; staircases remained resolutely immobile, which felt like a waste of perfectly good gameplay material.
As swiftly as I lay a compliment down at this game’s feet, I feel obliged to snatch it away.‚ As lovely as Hogwarts is to explore, tramping from one end of a castle to another gets really snoozeworthy when you’re playing Harry Potter and the Endless Fetch Quests. I was initially onboard with the errands as tutorials to familiarize myself with the extensive environment; but by the time Luna Lovegood asked me to track down her missing dress, shoes, and handbag to go to a plot-furthering meeting with me, I felt mightily abused.‚ The fetch quests provided no returns in terms of plot furtherance, but just creeping closer to the conclusion of this game began to feel like a worthwhile reward.
There are fun elements buried in this title. The over-abundance of minigames drowns the “real” gameplay, but that’s not to say they’re unenjoyable.‚ The physics feel correct and I loved reconnecting with my inner preschooler by playing endless games of marbles.‚ I just don’t know what that has to do with stopping a Dark Lord and saving the innocents of the world from racism, tyranny, and fear. I mean, come on”"it’s not even magical!‚ Didn’t Harry have, you know, more marketable job skills than this?‚ I expect more out of a Hogwartian education than the ability to win timed matching games.
Blast Factor: What makes Harry Potter cool”"as a franchise or a character”"is totally lost upon this game; be prepared to trudge through the monotony of gameplay-lengthening fetch quests, and to display yourself as the biggest tool in school in the process.‚ The coolness of the castle is the lone shining point, and its repetition and disappointingly linear structure dull this feature to the point of tarnish.‚ It’s ironic that you spend 85% of the latest Potter trading irrelevant items for even more irrelevant items, as you’ll surely be itching to trade this particularly irrelevant title in ASAP.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is available for the Nintendo DS for $39.99