Should I Buy? – LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7

A brief look back over my posts will show that I’m quite the fan of Traveller’s Tales  series of LEGO games based around famous franchises. I was quite taken with LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 in particular for its emphasis on puzzles and exploration instead of the more linear, simple formula the earlier games had relied on. It wasn’t their best game, sure, but it was a fun experiment. So surely Years 5-7  must be a refinement on the original and a true classic of the series, right? Eh, not really.

It’s not a bad game by any means. It will occupy your time. It’s not that there’s a whole raft of problems holding it back, it’s more that Years 5-7 is just…going through the motions.

It recreates the films pretty faithfully, with the slapstick humour the LEGO games are so well known for. This does lead to some odd choices in order to fill out the necessary twenty four levels, but seeing a they’re pretty much all based around solving puzzles it’s not as noticeable or annoying as with other games.

A weakness of Years 1-4 was that the minimal fighting and lacklustre bosses meant levels often felt free of tension or danger and that’s certainly still present to an extent. There are more enemies added in when it makes sense, but the bosses aren’t really improved much. Most of them are just the same ‘puzzle’ recycled.

There is a true improvement on the combat, though, as Duelling has been added. You and your opponent stand in a circle and have to cast the appropriate spells to hurt each other. Again, it’s recycled without variation and is basically just another puzzle, but it does help to add variety and keep things fresh.

By far my favourite part of Years 1-4 was how Hogwarts was full of secrets to uncover, and as you learned new spells and abilities you could explore more and more. It helped pace the game and  give a real sense of growth to your main trio, seeing as you were almost always stuck with playing as them.  And yes, your characters do have to relearn a lot of their spells and there are special abilities you’ll need to get from buying other characters, but there isn’t the same sense of exploratory wonder any more.

Partly this is because your characters, despite the depowering, still have a large selection of powers off the bat. By the time you’ve played a good chunk of the story levels, you’ll have almost all of them. And finally, either finding all the collectibles is that much easier in this game or I’ve become some sort of LEGO game Zen master. Regardless, I got 50% in under two days without even trying.

My biggest problem with Years 1-4 was that if you needed another character’s skills while roaming Hogwarts, you had to backtrack all the way to a Polyjuice Potion in order to do it. Thankfully, Years 5-7  lets you use any cauldron in the Hub areas as any of the four available potions, and using a Polyjuice Potion gives you a wheel of characters who cover all the skills (provided you’ve bought a character with the necessary skills) to flick between with the press of a button. Problem though, why do I need to use a Polyjuice Potion before I can use this feature? It’s unnecessary busywork.

Should you buy Years 5-7? If it’s going cheap and you want a light distraction or are/have a rabid Potterhead in your life, sure. But it’s not one of the classics of the series. It’s an also-ran. It fixes a few problems of the original but fails to offer anything substantive or new enough to make it stand out.


Fall over your Harry Potter feet – A tribute

Here’s a special piece, written by my good friend Willow. She’s my editor, and the one who kept interjecting in the Beneath A Steel Sky review I posted earlier. This is the second part of our commemoration of the final Harry Potter films release. It’s a look back over what the series means to one fan who’s had the Harry Potter universe be such a huge part of her life.

She’s also written a piece on the subject for her personal blog, so read away Harry Potter fans. And why not leave a comment on what the series has meant to you, too?


The Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling, a woman who reformed a dying genre known as ‘epic fantasy’. In light of the recent drama revolving around the final film’s release, it seems appropriate to look back over the past fourteen years. Yes, the first book came out fourteen years ago.

My father loved to read to me but the first novel I experienced was Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone when I was five years old. I distinctly remember being hooked at the bottom of the first page. I can remember how I first imagined witches and wizard robes (not too dissimilar to Micky Mouse in Fantasia), and laughing like silly at the jokes about the Dursley family.

For those of us who had to wait for book two to be written, let alone book seven, it has been something woven into our childhoods – or at least it has for me. The Harry Potter world is a place overflowing with imagination and has a fan base larger than The Lord of the Rings.

Its main fan website,, is delirious fun with over 3 million users (and growing every day), Quiddich is now a sport in America, the market is saturated with more merchandise than any super-fan could hope to collect (although I tried), literary critiques (and arses) have fought to unravel and undermine Rowling’s ideas, free internet pixel games when the internet still didn’t know what it was doing, etc. For a child, there is nothing better than feeling as if they can utterly immerse themselves in a world they adore. I don’t think there is another fandom that does it better than Harry Potter. Whenever the series is mentioned, there is a tight constriction in my chest because a huge part of my developing life has been invested into it.

There are hundreds of children and adults who found something gripping and revolutionary between the Harry Potter pages. When I was younger and its fame was still developing, friends used to ask “Who are you?” at fancy dress parties. “Why, I’m Hermione Granger!” Now, it’s brilliant to feel part of a huge community who we can share our HP love with. It’s near impossible not to know Harry Potter’s name, it’s like the wizarding world in reverse! And isn’t that what people want? Stories that are exciting, unique and carry us through a range of emotions – stories that mean something to us.

Did you know, if Harry Potter were alive, he would be 31 years old today: 31st July 2011.

At eight years old I wrote J.K.Rowling a letter expressing how much I was infatuated with her work – I even asked if she remembered my father from their years in school. Her handwritten reply came on my birthday in an envelope lined with purple tissue, and a golden owl embossed at the top of the paper. I can’t describe how much it meant to me, how much it meant to my father that she remembered throwing a dart in his hand. She even wanted to tell us what had become of my father’s friend – her high school boyfriend – and tried to say sorry that Oliver Wood was so bossy. I don’t think my father (Carl Wood) minds, somehow.

I once asked my dad if he could tell me secrets about who the characters are based off of and this is what he told me:

Severus Snape: “We had a science teacher just like him. It’s fitting that Snape is a potions master, don’t you think? He had long, greasy black hair, a hooked nose, a nasal voice and was a real nasty piece of work. He used to hit us on the back of the head with books.”

Hermione: “I think Hermione is a little bit like Jo herself. Determined to study hard and pass at the top of her class. It was kind of annoying, actually.”

Mr. Weasley’s blue Ford Anglia car: “Her boyfriend, my friend Seamus, used to have a blue car exactly like that. I remember how it broke. We had stopped at the traffic lights when we noticed a funny smell. A few seconds later and the radiator caught fire! We dived out in seconds.”

Godric’s Hollow: “I can’t say this for certain, but it reminds me of her house. Seamus and I used to sit on the pavement outside the gate and wait for her. It’s a nice little place – a church cottage in Tutshill. I’ll take you there when we next go to visit my mum.”

There are many who have said, “I’m going to cry at the end of the last film”. I haven’t seen it yet but I don’t think I’ll cry because ‘it’s over’, I’ll cry because I’m happy. Happy for everything the stories have given me, happy for Rowling’s intense achievement and for a feeling completeness. The Deathly Hallows part 2 couldn’t be any further from ‘the end’, it’s just completing that missing part of us – filling in the end of the story to our visual satisfaction.

I can’t wait to read to my children.

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