Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald lands in theaters this holiday season, providing Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment the perfect opportunity to release a new LEGO game revisiting JK Rowling’s magical world and the adventures of Newt Scamander.
Instead, they decided to remaster its previous two Lego Harry Potter games and package them together for the latest generation of hardware. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in concept, but Lego Harry Potter Collection offers no reason for someone who played the earlier iterations of those games to pick up this new package.
Originally released as Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7, together they make up the entire original Harry Potter saga. Most of the games are set primarily at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the artists at TT Games did a fantastic job of capturing the sprawling school and its grounds. From the Gryffindor common room and the moving staircases, to the many classrooms and the Great Hall, players will explore every nook and cranny of Hogwarts, making for a grand adventure.
In line with the series, players explore the hub, breaking everything in site and collecting Lego studs. Ghosts will lead you from one objective to the next, leaving a trail of ghostly Lego pieces like so many breadcrumbs. In addition to traditional levels, you’ll also take part in classes to learn new spells to help solve the game’s many puzzles.
The use of spells separates the Lego Harry Potter games from other Lego outings, adding depth to exploration and allowing you to reach new places as you learn incantations. This is one area where the remaster really shines, as spell effects and environments look great even on the Switch, making the games feel like an animated cartoon.
Unfortunately, the extra sharp graphics make the subpar sound all the more obvious. While John Williams’ movie score plays crystal clear, characters are limited to simple grunts and chuckles. This was par for the course with the older Lego games, but now that they have become fully voiced, it’s difficult to go back. Cutscenes are simple pantomimes, and while it’s easy enough to follow along—particularly if you know the story—it still feels lacking. It is, far and away, the most deficient part of the game.
Though still clearly aimed at a younger audience, the Lego Harry Potter games feature a greater challenge than many other Lego titles. It’s much more difficult to attain the rank of True Wizard, particularly the first time through a level, and some of the puzzles don’t have obvious solutions. There are also more random collectibles than most series installments. In addition to studs, minikits, gold and red bricks, and a whole host of characters from the game, each level contains the four house crests to make the Hogwarts coat of arms. To unlock most of these, you’ll usually have to find and transform a number of different items in levels, like lighting lamps or changing suits of armor. You’ll also rescue Students in Peril, which is like finding Stan Lee or Adam West in certain Marvel and DC Lego games, but not quite as much fun.
What Lego Harry Potter Collection really has going for it is its massive, cohesive scope. Playing through it is a fun way to relive Harry’s saga, and the value of having both Lego Harry Potter games in a single package is significant. Plus, playing portably on the Switch works perfectly with their design. Ultimately, however, if you’ve already played these games, there’s little incentive to revisit them here. They look prettier, sound and play the same, and don’t hold up compared to newer releases like Lego DC Super Villains or Lego Incredibles. So, just know what you’re getting before you make your way to Hogwarts—and, maybe someday, we’ll get the Fantastic Beasts Lego game we deserve.
A return to Hogwarts to relive Harry Potter’s school years, this remaster features an enjoyable adventure for fans who haven’t taken this trip before. Though the games are still fun to play, the experience doesn’t offer anything new (other than updated graphics) from the original releases. While the Harry Potter movie world keeps expanding, game fans get a rehash, which is something of a downer. If you haven’t played the Lego Harry Potter games before, this is a great package in terms of value and sheer amount of gameplay. Otherwise, it would be better to play one of the newer releases in the franchise.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
E10+ - Everyone 10+
|Lego Harry Potter Collection is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch. Primary version played was for Nintendo Switch. Code/hardware was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.|