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Familiar locations like Platform 9 3/4 are colorfully re-created.
As with Star Wars, Batman, and Indiana Jones before it, the Harry Potter franchise has been given the LEGO treatment in a game that lets players guide the boy wizard and pals through a colorful puzzle-solving campaign. But unlike the wimpy iPhone version of LEGO Batman -- which was a simple mini-game collection -- LEGO Harry Potter is a full-fledged adventure with a dozen hours of content and plenty of bonus goodies.
Like any good witch or wizard, you can ride your broom in certain segments of the game.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 spans the content of the first four Harry Potter books and films, and it strongly takes after the previous licensed LEGO titles for game consoles and handhelds, albeit with a fantasy slant. You'll use spells to build piles of LEGO bricks into ladders and platforms, ignite torches, and illuminate your character in the darkness, and while this universal iOS release of LEGO Harry Potter is notably less action-oriented than last year's console versions, it does include several well-implemented touchscreen elements. Drawing a flame or upward-pointing arrow to cast a quick spell works wonderfully, and simple puzzle sequences and potion-brewing moments are sure to draw younger players into the adventure.
Evade the Cerberus! You'll have to avoid obstacles and enemy attacks in this chase sequence.
And despite the skimpy $4.99 price point (at press time), Years 1-4 offers up a very lengthy quest, complete with largely solid production values. Each of the four chapters lasts upwards of three hours, plus you can revisit completed stages to discover loads of additional playable characters. Problem is, LEGO Harry Potter quickly descends into monotony at times, as its reliance on a limited number of gameplay mechanics and spells may bore experienced gamers, who will also likely grimace at the near-complete lack of challenge. But it's an easy recommendation for kids and the Harry Potter faithful on iPhone or iPad.
The bottom line. Though repetitive and sometimes monotonous, this robust and well-crafted app is a great pick for younger iOS gamers.
Casting spells is as simple as drawing the outline on the screen, like this orange flame.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (universal) running iOS 4.1 or later
Lengthy adventure with great visuals. Delivers a light and comical twist on the Harry Potter series. Easy for kids to pick up and play.
Experienced gamers may find this a repetitive adventure with little at stake. Low-resolution video clips are distracting on iPad.