Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
No I don’t mean Christmas, New Year’s, or even St. Patrick’s Day. I mean a new Harry Potter game release, mainly Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which is the game of 2005, the halfway point of the Harry Potter trilogy. And to celebrate, more or less, we’re talking Potter this time out with a fistful of reviews. Two for the GBA, and one for the consoles (in this case the PS2).
For the GBA it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year 4), while for the PS2 we have the last Harry Potter game prior to this new one (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is the latest game, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (for the GBA).
It’s Year 4, and Harry, Hermione and Ron (family and all) are going to catch the Quidditch World Cup and the epic battle between Ireland and Bulgeria! However before you know it Death Eaters are attacking the camp, and the game rolls right into action from there. However just confronting the Death Eaters isn’t the end of it because this year’s going to be different at Hogwarts this year.
Besides the fact that there’s a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (a man who lives the Mulder way of conspiracy theories, “Mad Eye” Moody), there’s also the TriWizard Tournament which will pit the students of Hogwarts against two rival wizarding schools in a competition that has been banned for some years but is now finally making a comeback. And surprise, surprise, it seems that after the champions are picked (one for each school) the device of the picking (the title’s “Goblet of Fire”) craps out and spits up a fourth name… oh, Harry Potter… big surprise. Oh, and it looks like Potter’s old nemesis Voldemort is coming back (gee, wonder who “arraigned” to have Potter in the TriWizard tournament), and this sets up a cliffhanger that sets the stage for Order of the Phoenix (Year 5).
Now for the gameplay. I bet you’ll think that the game is going to be a drag since the major console version seems to be an action oriented downer (removing the last bits of fun from Prisoner of Azkaban), but believe it or not you’ll actually find the embracing of action orientation in the Potter games works here! Image 1 of 3. Click to enlarge
The game’s action pacing is better here, and it makes the most sense since you’d expect that out of a portable. Unlike the larger console games which you expect more, the action orientation of Goblet of Fire works out well and the game is actually workable. The game’s
Image 1 of 3. Click to enlarge
Let’s start off with the team aspect. Like Prisoner of Azkaban you’ll be using all three characters, though instead of switching off between the three you’ll choose at the start which one you’ll run with and the other two will back you up (by pressing the L button you can call your partners to come and assist you in levitating things and fighting). And while the powers are generic here (unlike Prisoner of Azkaban) you don’t have to fuss with selecting powers. This time out the powers automatically pre-select, giving you the right power for the right task which makes everything flow more smoothly without the stop and go of having to swap out powers to pick the right power for the right task. Also because of this you’ll always have two spells at the ready (shot powers A button, and streaming powers on the B). The upside is that you don’t have to fuss with a selection process to pick the spell you need, but the downside is there’s less originality or chances to mix and match spells on your own. But if you’d rather just play and fuss about picking out spells then this system will work well for you. Another thing that should work well for you in the whole teamwork thing. Since you don’t have to jump from character to character you won’t have to worry about monitoring everyone’s health meters (the others that are AI controlled seem to be rather invincible from what I’ve seen of it), and for the most part it works well though sometimes the teamwork thing does suffer from the occasional snafu (as characters will sometimes ignore you, or not use their magic if you are standing where they want to set up, throwing them off their “groove” as it were making them stand about waiting for you to move before they move into position and start spellcasting -- mostly Wingardium Leviosa since the only time you really need them is to move heavy objects, they seem capable of attacking on their own without being told to attack about half of the time.)
Then there’s the whole card thing. In previous games the card thing was not very vital, but this time out it’ll actually have a purpose. Besides collecting cards that use images from the movie (actual images of the actual cast of the movie), and containing little bits of info about said characters, the cards also contain your abilities and powers. You collect cards that contain your magic (yes) but you also can gain special cards that unlock team abilities (this happens when you collect an entire Image 2 of 3. Click to enlarge
The team cards enhance the three abilitys of the game, mainly attack, defense and speed (the higher these stats are the easier it is for you during gameplay).
Image 2 of 3. Click to enlarge
Oh, did I mention this game has a bonus section that is unlockable? It does! However it’s not easy to unlock the extras, ‘cause I am still working on it. I defeated the game, nothing. I am almost done collecting all the cards and TriWizard Tournament points… maybe that’ll do something. Well, at least the whole thing of unlockable extras means the game has some replay value that’ll keep you at it past the completion point of the game. And that, by the way, is a nice thing (yes) since previous Potter games didn’t have this kind of extras (like Prisoner of Azkaban for the consoles which meant you had little reason to replay the game after you beat it the first time out).
In short? The GBA’s Goblet of Fire has got interesting quirks (like the difficult rhythm game during the Yule Ball, the flying sequence during the 1st Task which wasn’t a ripoff of Superman 64 meets Super Return of the JedI, and more) but the game is also short. But with the unlockable extras and the power ups that can be gained by collecting all the cards in the game (which means multiple playing of levels to find hidden cards and earning enough Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean to buy all the cards in Weasley’s shoppe) you’ll find yourself playing this above and beyond just beating this game (which is probably more than you can say of the console version which you probably won’t play again once you beat it). Oh, and did I mention the multiplayer option so two people can team up and play? Yeah, this doesn’t have the feel of the Nintendo DS and the ability for two people to play the same game without owning the same game, but it’s still good and if you know someone who has the game then you can most definitely squeeze more playability out of this without missing a beat. My only real complaint is then that this is probably going to be the last hurrah for the GBA in terms of Harry Potter franchise games. By the time Order of the Phoenix rolls around they’re probably going to phase out GBA versions in favor of Nintendo DS ports. Sad, but most likely which makes it the second system it has been phased out of (the first being the PSOne whose last game Image 3 of 3. Click to enlarge
Ok, let’s break this down.
Image 3 of 3. Click to enlarge
Harry Potter and the Breakdown of GBA Year 4
The game is actually good. With a better replay value on this version over the big console version (if Prisoner of Azkaban was any indication as to how little replay value the console version will probably have), the game might have abit more of an appeal than the big one. Yes, it probably looks sweet on the graphics and all that, but if the game is short and has zero replay value it won’t make sense to own it if the game plays so simply and has no replay value.
Yes, eventually you’ll unlock all the content and yes you’ll complete the game, but still with the Yule Ball mini game providing some real challenge for your fingers (try to defeat all the levels of difficulty on all three songs) you might find some reason to come back to this from time to time, if only to replay the rhythm game.
For a portable version it’s not half bad. And at least it makes sense for it to be action oriented, unlike the console version of Goblet of Fire from which I expected more content (but probably will be disappointed with in terms of content). Oh, and eventually I’d like to see the Potter cast ACTUALLY DO THEIR OWN VOICE ACTING! That means you three (“Harry”, “Hermione” and “Ron”!)
Moments to Remember?
The Yule Ball rhythm mini game.
What to Ignore?
Why does it sound that (after hearing the same short phrase over and over again) Hermione is saying something -- off? She has two lines to call for help… “Come here!” and “Help me!”… and after hearing it over and over again (sometimes in rapid succession if the two you’re calling don’t move right away or come to assist that fast) -- well, let’s say that’s all I’ll say about that.
It’s sad but this is probably going to be the final hurrah for the GBA on the Potter front, though I guess that’s OK despite the fact that the dumbed down “action emphasis” of the game only works on the portables (while you’ll probably want more out of the bigger version of the Goblet of Fire game). Still if you are looking for a Potter fix and you don’t want to drop $40-$50 large on the console version then you might be happier with the smaller GBA fix. It’ll fill your need for Potter, and it’ll not put as big a whammy on your pocketbook as the $50 Potter. Just for the gamer who’d want a little Potter, since a little Potter may go a long way… sorry, bad pun.
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