If you have a Harry Potter fan in your house, your
shopping for the holidays just got easier. "Harry Potter for Kinect"
spans all seven years of Harry's life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry. And with the Kinect camera technology, your child can scan
his or her face into the game to create their own avatar to play
through Harry's world.
The magic starts just as it did for Harry,
with a trip to Ollivanders Wand Shop to select a wand. Since you are
playing this game on Kinect, there are no controllers. You simply reach
out to pick up a wand proffered by the spry Ollivander. After casting
magic (lifting your hand up and then flicking it down) with three wands
that blow up various areas of Ollivander's store, you finally land on
one that works, and live through the famous scene where Ollivander
pronounces that "the wand chooses the wizard."
Selecting over 25
major scenes from the eight Harry Potter movies, "Harry Potter for
Kinect" lets you play through these events in order. You get sorted by
the Sorting Hat and then play through five events from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the movie depicting Harry's first year at Hogwarts. Then it is on to the second year with four events from Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets and so forth through to the final confrontation with Voldemort in Harry's seventh year.
will see photos and short videos from the original movies before each
mini-game. The game recalls what happened in the story so that you will
understand the event you play next. The mini-game recreates the movie's
sequences with animation that looks remarkably like the movie. While the
voice talent isn't the same, I don't think anyone will mind.
use a lot of magic to play this game. You cast spells with the flick of
your arm while using a reticule on screen. And for the first time, you
can call out which spell you want to use before casting it. You also
make potions by stirring their cauldrons, adding ingredients and using a
pestle to crush herbs.
As wizards-in-training, players study
herbology, including donning ear muffs and pulling eardrum-splitting
Mandrakes out of the dirt and repotting them into new containers. You
also get to hit the Quidditch Pitch, even learning to tussle by throwing
your arms out to knock opponents off their brooms. It is fast-paced and
full of leaning, punching and quickly grabbing the hummingbird-like
Dueling (minigames about casting the correct spells
against an opponent) occurs several times in the story mode. Kids take
on Draco Malfoy, Professor Snape, and others. There is even a bonus mode
called Duelling Club, where you take on progressively harder opponents.
bonus activities include Potions classes, Spells practice, and a
Whomping Willow challenge where the willow gets progressively quicker at
thumping while you dodge. As you play, you unlock bonus two-player
mini-games of Duelling Club, Quidditch, and Cafe Duelling. You can even
watch the sorting hat "sing."
Harry Potter for Kinect is a
magical game to explore. Even if you don't know the story, it tells it
to you; so you could be completely new to this universe and still enjoy
the game play. By doing everything in the story (and seeing yourself
play if you scanned yourself into the game) this game feels personal.
it isn't perfect. At times, the quirkiness of Kinect seemed to get in
the way. For example, in the last game in Year 1, Harry Potter climbs
onto a rickety broom and flies up among hundreds of whizzing keys to nab
the one to open the Sorcerer's Stone Chamber. This creates a game about
using your arms to knock away the incoming bombarding keys. But we had
trouble getting the Kinect to register our movements and had to replay
this game several times to succeed. Contrast this to a similar game
called Cornish Pixies found in the second year. Again the sweeping of
the arms is used, and this time it worked like a breeze.
noticed some inconsistencies when taking on baddies like the Troll and
the Basilisk. At times, it seemed that we couldn't fail. We played on
the casual level, but there is also an advanced difficulty setting.
of this game's linear progression, if your children get stuck, they
can't move forward until they win the current game. This means that some
kids will be replaying games over again. Luckily, most of them are
fascinating to look at and exciting to replay.
Here's the bottom line: Harry Potter for Kinect
is a fun experience for young Hogwarts' enthusiasts. The controls seem a
little fuzzy at times, but the game is magical to behold nonetheless.
The game earned an ESRB rating of 10+ for blood, mischief, and violence;
but some kids will be fine with it at an earlier age.
Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
Rating: E10+ (Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence)
Best for: Ages 10-14
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform: X360 running Kinect