The Lego Harry Potter game franchise first launched in 2010, and has since been adapted and remastered for nearly every device imaginable. This includes, but is not limited to, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, iOS, OS X and Android. To be made available on literally everything is the mark of a true great, and with the release of the Lego Harry Potter Collection, the franchise now reaches a new audience in a neat little remastered package.
It’s easy to become apathetic about the Lego video game franchise, particularly when you consider the sheer volume of titles and branded entertainment monoliths included — but this re-release is something special. It’s a reminder of how good Lego games can be.
This collection covers Harry’s entire journey, with all its blocky charm. It begins as the movie does, with Dumbledore, McGonagall and Hagrid’s fateful trip to Little Whinging with baby Harry, and covers each and every journey with the classic Lego charm.
While it does tend to speed through the story at times, it absolutely succeeds in making for a wild and breakneck ride through Harry’s story, all the best parts included.
It would be safe to assume that many of you have already played through at least one Lego game, whether it’s been your cup of tea or not. For those who haven’t – the games are relatively simple. You take control of Lego-fied versions of your favourite characters, and by destroying your environment, solving puzzles and building tools, you can traverse your way through a variety of levels.
The action of this collection begins in Diagon Alley, and right off the bat, it captures the magic of the Harry Potter franchise with a charming and familiar atmosphere. The game largely borrows the film’s soundtrack, a great decision that bolsters the magic of the atmosphere.
Despite a lack of voiced characters (a feature that has since graced the later Lego titles), the storytelling of the game is superb, and a stellar example of how visuals can be used to tell an effective story. While those unfamiliar with the story of Harry Potter may have some difficulty understanding the action, I feel that the game does enough to cover its bases and tell this story on its own – goofy character moments and all.
The game looks and feels great, with spectacularly cartoony visuals that have been updated for a new era and more than that – it feels right at home on the Switch. While it isn’t the most visually spectacular game, the visuals are polished and effective, replicating the wizarding world well in both handheld and docked modes. Controls are easy and intuitive, and gameplay, like the other Lego titles, is fun despite its repetitiveness.
This go around, there’s also a heap of exploring to do, with each level containing hidden pieces of a collectible Hogwarts crest. Searching all the many dark corners of Hogwarts and its surrounds becomes a delightful and rewarding chore that’ll keep you entertained for hours – hours and hours, in fact. I make this distinction because the collection charts seven whole adventures, totalling over 30 hours for a single playthrough. Completionists will be journeying far longer than that to uncover all of Harry’s hidden secrets.
Personally, I think the Lego Harry Potter series represents the best of Lego’s video game outputs, with a control scheme and puzzle-solving mechanics that remain fun and interesting throughout the entire game. Hidden secrets can be revealed with character co-operation and the right spells, adding in a sneaky element of strategy to the series.
For those who missed it the first time around, the Lego Harry Potter Collection is the perfect way to experience the best of the Lego franchise, while for those returning, it’s a welcome journey home. Presented in a neat little bundle at an affordable price, it joins a stellar line-up of older titles that have made the Switch their home. With hours of content to chew through, this game is a must-have for Harry Potter fans, and a brilliant journey for those just along for the ride.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Brilliant visual storytelling; fun gameplay, hours of content to devour; great exploration opportunities
Lowlights: Dated visuals; repetitive action
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC, and more consoles than you can shake a stick at