I’m not a massive gamer, but that doesn’t stop me playing LEGO Harry Potter, Years 1-4 on my DS. It’s the one console I can repeatedly turn to because I’m not restricted to one spot and I don’t have to fight for a television, so I’ve become comfortable using it for games. In saying that, the game’s controls are simple enough that someone could learn how to play in a few minutes! Just as well, considering the fact that its more child orientated than the main-platform Harry Potter games.

It’s a fun game, there’s no denying that. Aside from the delight of the characters turned into LEGO, the magic and quests that make up the game make this one of the more enjoyable games I’ve played of late, even if it does seem a bit too easy. As the game goes on, various things become unlocked, from new spells to characters and bonuses, some of which can be turned on and off. Most characters, and all the bonuses, are unlocked as extras: cards from the chocolate frogs and red bricks from LEGO give us access to a whole cast of characters from the wizardry world, as well as some little tricks that make the game easier – more money per coin, invincibility and one-shot kills being some of the more memorable ones.

Spells, which are needed to access a lot of the hidden areas in the earlier levels of the game, are unlocked in two ways: anything necessary for game-progression and unlocking bonuses is learned as the game goes on, while additional spells for messing about with the other characters are unlocked by picking up red bricks on certain levels. You don’t need them, but it’s too much fun to not make Snape’s head blow up like a balloon, or turn it into an oversized pumpkin, hang him in the air by his feet or, my personal favourite, make him do a little dance! If only those spells worked on the bosses, too, to really aggravate them!

Or use it on this guy...

It’s definitely for Harry Potter fans. You need to have some idea of what’s actually happening in the videos to understand the consequences of everything. Even the very basic letter being received to admit Harry into Hogwarts is hidden behind a lack of dialogue or subtitles – the latter reserved for in-game talking – and I would say that that’s the games biggest flaw. It’s not the only flaw, however: I experienced a couple of glitches along the way, resulting in Harry – or whoever else I was using at the time – to become trapped in one spot, doomed to spend eternity there, usually standing on a ledge and falling into an abyss.

Unfortunately, flying a broom isn't *this* fun in the game!

While it’s no real loss to miss out on this game, it’s definitely advised for someone wanting a bit of childish fun for half an hour a day. You won’t find a game with such easy controls are swiping the stylus across the screen to attack and drawing shapes to cast spells, and if you do… well, it won’t have as many characters as this! There are over 80 playable characters, most of them just fan favourites rather than being of any special use.

My tip: bring a goblin, a wizard, a ghost, a strong character, a teacher, Hermione and Harry and you can do anything (that’s access to the goblin points, casting spells, passing through cage walls, pushing big bricks and statues, accessing the “smart” pedestals, using the time turner, speaking in parseltongue and turning invisible!) Easy fun, lots of variety and, of course, Harry Potter: what’s not to love?

Rating: ★★★★☆

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