I have played quite a few Kinect games this year, and I must admit that the experience has wavered between excellent and diabolical. The best Kinect games I’ve played are Fable: The Journey and Wreckateer, and the worst one I have played is Steel Battalion. Harry Potter for Kinect fits somewhere in between this list, but I would suggest that it is closer to Fable: The Journey than to Steel Battalion.
Once again, patience and perseverance is the key. Fortunately for Harry Potter there are a few redeeming qualities that almost, but not quite, cancel out the frustration of the Kinect experience.The good and the bad is on equal display throughout the game, that means you should expect some fun interspersed with some moments of sheer frustration.
The game takes you through all the books and is, in effect, a collection of mini-games that are taken from certain scenes in the series. These include learning how to be a master wizard and, of course, all of the climactic scenes in the books such as Harry’s confrontation with Quirrel, the fight with the Basilisk and, ultimately, the confrontation with You Know Who. This is quite a good thing in that some things might annoy you beyond compunction (such as yelling Wingardium Leviosa at your television a hundred times) and some things might really tickle your fancy (personally I loved the potion classes). Once you have mastered certain scenes you can always revisit them and play them as often as you like, perfecting your wizardly skills.
I would prefer to call Harry Potter for Kinect a tribute to the series as opposed to a flowing game. This is due to the fact that, whilst other Harry Potter titles play through a whole timeline (such as the LEGO Harry Potter games), Harry Potter for Kinect has snippets, or glimpses, into the entire series, including scenes from the movies. There is a flow but a lot of the story is left out, and I would recommend this game to fans of the books and movies instead of people new to them.
As you find out about the Potter universe during load screens accompanied by appropriately read voice overs, you begin to discover the various mini-games that make up experience, comprising suitable wizard-like activities. One challenge might see you creating potions by moving your hand to pick up ingredients and place them in a cauldron before stirring the concoction, and your ability to cast spells will be tested as you whip a wand in the air and say the appropriate incantation.
Other times you’ll need to duck, jump and dodge out of the way of the attacks of an angry troll (before sticking a wand up its nose – gross), zoom through the air during an on-rails Quidditch match (while leaning side-to-side to nudge your direction on the broom and attack opponents by flailing your arms) and frantically snatch flying keys out of the air. All of the mini-games are rather brief, but completely disconnected from one another, making up the entire gameplay experience of Harry Potter for Kinect as you move through each year of Harry’s Hogwarts education.
While I enjoyed some of the mini-games, others annoyed me. For some reason I had serious issues with selecting spells in the spell training segment and, as much as I held my arms out in the correct position (the avatar on the screen was even doing the right thing), I could simply not select the spell. The potion classes, however, were a great deal of fun. Defeating the troll was a mixture between fun and frustration because aiming your spell sometimes went a bit wonky.
Harry Potter for Kinect was fun in that it brought back quite a lot of memories from the books and the movies, but I must admit it did become a bit a chore to play it. This isn’t a game I would play again and, once finished, I think it would be relegated to the cupboard. I do, however, have two young kids that have the knack of ferreting out some of my old games and playing them, and I think when they get a bit older the game might get a lot more play time.
The Kinect has always appealed to my sons and I think this is their kind of game. They are already past masters of other Kinect games, and I think they deal with frustration a lot better than their dad so I think the fun portion of the game will overcome the frustration. One thing I did notice, the drop-in, drop-out functionality definitely had a few glitches and I would recommend that you drop-in at the menu stage and not in the middle of completing a task or combat.
I would only recommend Harry Potter for Kinect to die-hard fans of the Harry Potter franchise and to those gamers who have a good deal of patience. I think that anyone looking for an excellent Harry Potter experience would be better off looking at some other Harry Potter titles that explore the series in more detail. Although some of the mini-games are a lot of fun, they can soon become a bit boring and the potential for replay of this game isn’t very high. Of course, if you are looking for a decent Kinect game that you can enjoy with the kids, Harry Potter is worth considering, I’d just wait for a better price.