The latest compilation of all of the Harry Potter stories arrives, and once again, I was impressed. If you haven’t heard anything about this one, the synopsis states:

If you ever wondered what it would be like to attend Hogwarts, here’s your chance! Harry Potter for Kinect lets you join the fabled school of witchcraft and wizardry and play as your favorite characters, including Harry, Ron, and Hermione. You can even scan your face into the game, be sorted into one of the school’s four houses, and play the story through your own eyes! Experience the most exciting scenes from the entire eight-film franchise, casting spells by waving your wand or using voice commands. Learn how to battle Death Eaters, chase the Snitch on the Quidditch field, and more as you fight the coming of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Overview

Even though this is a mini-game compilation, the 2 keys differences that the developer made were first, they mixed it up a lot so even though some of the games are similar gestures, they are different, repetition is barely noticeable, if at all. The second thing is that they made sure that the controls work flawlessly, and they really do. This makes it a much more enjoyable game. I also found some other additional aspects while going through everything as well, that only made it better.

The Menu

There really isn’t a menu, it’s more or less just to start a game. Once you are in Hogwarts, then you can look around and choose more options. It does use both the swipe method (even though it’s not visual) as well as a raise your hand and lock in place. The initial items to choose from are New, Quit and Options which include Kinect Tuner, Kinect Guide, Help On or Off, Music Volume, Credits, Right or Left Handed and change the difficulty from casual to advanced. Once you go into Hogwarts you can start the game, but there are some other things not available until you complete the game. I’ll break down each one.

New/Resume

This is main story line of the game. It’s split up between Years 1-7, with 7 combined as 1 year. What they did is try to feature the more remembered moments, although I’m assuming they wanted more and didn’t have time. For cramming 20 hours of movies into a game, it has a good mixture in my opinion. There are a total of 26 levels throughout. When you begin, you can choose either casual or advanced difficulty. There were a few that I ran into issues on, playing with the advanced difficulty. Also, voice commands of the spells come in handy here again. I think it makes a difference when using Kinect gestures and not a controller.

Levels are rated at the end and typically divided into 3 categories. You can get a max score 100 on each, basically 300 points gives you 5 stars. You don’t have to get 5 stars, you just have to complete the level. Anyhow, I did go ahead and break everything down so you can get an idea of what this game is or isn’t missing and included a couple of videos. I could have made a video of everything but didn’t want to spoil it for everyone.

Year 1
– Potions Class
– Charms Class
– Troll Battle
– Quidditch Match – Seeker
– The Sorcerer’s Stone Chamber

I did make a video of the quidditch match. Yes it’s kind of on-rails, however with the punching and kicking, it reminded me of Road Rash from way back when, anyhow, you can view it below:

Year 2
– Cornish Pixies
– Mandrake Repotting
– Dueling Club
– The Chamber of Secrets

Year 3
– The Whomping Willow
– Catch Scabbers
– Battle The Dementors

I also made another video of the Catch Scabbers episode so you can somewhat get an idea of the variation of things to do:

Year 4
– Triwizard Tournament Second Task
– Triwizard Tournament Third Task
– Harry vs Voldemort Duel

Year 5
– Room of Requirement
– Ministry of Magic Death Eater Battle
– Dumbledore vs. Voldemort Duel

Year 6
– Quidditch Match – Keeper
– The Locket Horcrux
– Snape vs. Harry Duel

Year 7
– Luchino Caffe Duel
– Journey To The Lestrange Vault
– Destroy The Bridge
– Nagini Battle
– Voldemort Finale

After you complete the game, you then open up some more areas. Overall, it took me roughly 5 hours to complete. All of the story levels are re-playable using the Pensieve so you can replay them and try to earn 5 stars. You can also navigate to other areas which have Polyjuice Potion, Extra Classes, Sorting Hat, Challenge Trophy and Fawkes.

Polyjuice Potion

This area has all of the photos you unlock throughout the game depending on how well you did. There’s also a strange feature called Custom Character and it has you line up your face close to Kinect and takes your mug shot. It then applies just a portion of your face to a character’s body. It is so weird and looks even more weird. Overall, there are 22 photos to unlock throughout the game. I’m not certain if achieving 5 stars on every level unlocks everything.

Extra Classes

Extra classes offer more games to play. They are sorted in the categories of Potions, Spells, Dueling, Dodge, and Multiplayer.

Potions consist of actually making the potions with different gestures. What I found interesting about it is that it’s really a learning tool for younger children. It consists of matching shapes, colors and symbols. There are 10 levels in total, and I couldn’t beat the last level but I’m guessing it unlocks another picture. Anyhow, I did make a video of this to show its uniqueness:

Spells are more or less a learning session, so you can pronounce the spell names correctly and learn exactly what they do in detail. There are 7 spells covering Protego, Levicorpus, Expelliarmus, Immobilus, Incendio, Stupefy, and Wingardium Leviosa. It’s pretty simple, but I did make a video of it anyway:

Dueling allows you to spar against opponents from 4 different factions. They include regular students, Dumbledore’s Army, Hogwarts Staff and Order of the Phoenix Members. They did add some flair to this as you can duck behind objects and move them out-of-the-way, but it also displays the regular duels as well. Here’s a video:

Dodge is just to jump and duck. I found this to be a real workout as basically you are doing prolonged squats. It made me sweat a little. I didn’t bother making a video as it does get tiring and repetitive as it’s dealing with the tree swinging at you and only the Easy difficulty is unlocked at first. I did unlock medium but I was too exhausted to try anymore, so I’m not sure how many different levels are in here.

Multiplayer is quite neat. There are 3 different types, all of them feature 2-play simultaneous play. The first is Quidditch Seeking where the players are seekers trying to catch the Snitch. I didn’t try this mode out but I believe you can punch/kick each other as well. The other option is dueling, but 2 different variations. One is competitive where you duel against each other and the other is Co-operative where the both of you work together to knock down an opponent or opponents.

Sorting Hat

All the hat does is tell a little tale about that particular year, yet it rhymes it so I suppose it’s a song. I’m not sure if there are more to unlock, but I only had Year 1, 4 and 5.

Challenge Trophy

This is more games to play, except they are more arcade style. It uses a standard unlock progression where you first start with casual difficulty, then advanced and finally extreme, although there may be more since I couldn’t get past extreme. You typically have some type of goal to meet, although it does feature challenges from the 26 levels in the regular story mode. I did break down each section for you as well.

Casual Difficulty
– Daring Duelist
– Nagini Nightmare
– Basilisk Battle
– Do The Math
– Stop Scabbers
– Super Spell-Casting

Again, I found another learning fundamental in this one for younger children. I can’t remember the last time a current gen game that isn’t only for kids that had math problems in it. Anyhow, here’s a video of it, I thought it was a great idea:

Advanced Difficulty
– Troll Trauma
– Scoring Points
– Hindering Harry
– Keeping Focused
– Be Amazed
– Target Practice

Extreme Difficulty
– Out On A Limb
– Perfect Aim
– Eerie Inferi

There are 3 more to the extreme difficulty, although I couldn’t pass Perfect Aim. The objective is to defeat Malfoy’s father with no more than 24 spells. The thing is, even if you play the defensive side, each shot that is reflected back from Protego counts as 1 spell. I suppose with lots of spell casting practice, you may pass this but it gave me a lot of trouble, which I don’t mind a good challenge here and there.

Fawkes

I’m guessing this was thrown in for the younger group as it’s Dumbledore’s pet bird. All I found is you can pet him like you can the animals in Kinectimals and he gets excited.

Conclusion

I may be one of the few, but I enjoyed this game, maybe because I compared it to the movies and not the books. The books are long and detailed, the movies are not and this follows the same role as the movies – it’s meant to get through the story quickly – we already know what happens, we just want to experience it for ourselves. It was different even though technically it is a mini-game compilation. The thing they did well is that I didn’t feel like I was playing a mini-game compilation. The controls are really flawless, if you flail about like other games, you aren’t going to do well. You will also have to pay attention as there are a couple of levels that have you sidestepping as well as leaning, so if leaning or sidestepping isn’t doing what you want it to do, it’s more than likely a user error, as it was on my part when I realized I was reversing them.

All in all, it’s good fun, and good for all ages especially with the learning aspect. The graphics are top-notch as well, and I didn’t know until I completed it, but they are using voice overs for all of the characters but they sound very close, if not exact, to the original characters. A couple of things lacking are probably a lot more scenes from all of the movies as well as some type of online involvement, there isn’t any at all. I would have also enjoyed some puzzle games as well as the puzzle type elements fit the Potter series perfectly. If you are huge Potter fan and understand this has nothing to do with the books, you will probably want this game or probably already own it, but it is one of those titles that everyone should at least try it before we let it go to collect dust.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Harry Potter For Kinect
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