Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lego Harry Potter Cartoon Game

There’s always seemed to be an unfortunate mentality on the part of the creators of games for younger children that the game doesn’t need to be especially good, because parents are just looking for the license on the box and kids will play anything. The really unfortunate part about this is that they’re right, so what’s the motivation to do any better when there’s no need to?

With all the cards in the deck stacked against the development of high-quality kids’ games, it’s good to see things like Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PC. I got to see a hands-off demo of the game running on the 360, and it’s what you’d expect from the group that turned Star Wars and Indiana Jones into goofy plastic brick parodies: a polished, funny game, but one that’s much more for kids rather than adult fans of the franchises.

First of all, it looks really nice. Developer Traveller’s Tales mastered the look of virtual Lego bricks long ago, but the Potter world around them is also elegantly illustrated with tons of cute little details (the Lego paintings in the Hogwarts castle corridors, for example).

The silliness of the Lego action games is also a perfect fit for this franchise. Building things out of Lego bricks in Indiana Jones doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. In the magic-fueled chaos of the Potterverse, in which things are broken and magically put back together on a regular basis, the mechanic fits.

Attending lessons at Hogwarts, you’ll able to add all kinds of magic spells to your inventory, using them as you travel through the game. Unlike the earlier games, there’s no life meter — while there are a couple times in the game where you can die, in general you’re not in danger of much anything bad happening to you.

In short, kids will love it; they’ll love smashing and bashing their way through Hogwarts and all the assorted levels and they’ll think it’s all a laugh riot. And the drop-in, drop-out cooperative game play means parents and siblings can help, too

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