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Nick Burgess
18 Nov, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Review

DS Review | Something wizard this way comes...
Hang on to your pointy hats and get on your broom sticks – it’s time for Harry Potter mach four AKA Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It has once again been a whirlwind year for the boy wizard and his creator J.K. “J-Row” Rowling with the publication of the 6th book earlier this year and the impending release of the 4th movie in Australia. In addition to every certain blockbuster comes the obligatory game accompaniment, which for the first time makes its way to Nintendo’s third pillar system – the DS. While it may share a similar visual style with the GameBoy Advance version, its many unique inclusions will really blow your cloak up. Electronic Arts UK have capitalised on the DS’s capabilities to turn what could have been an everyday romp through the wizard world into one of the most interactive Harry Potter adventures to date.

Harry sure has his work cut out for him in his 4th year at Hogwarts as he ventures into darker territory. If the return of the seemingly extinct race of Death Eaters (loyal followers of Lord “he-who-shall-not-be-named" Voldemort) wreaking havoc on the Quidditch World Cup campsite wasn’t terrifying enough, then having been picked out of the Goblet of Fire to partake in the deadly Tri-Wizard Tournament, after being deemed ineligible, surely casts a dark cloud over Harry’s school year. Luckily for us, this means that we are able to partake in his action packed adventure. Strung together with attractive cut-scenes, 11 events have been plucked from the book to give the player diverse offerings of locale and gameplay. Staying true to the book’s chronological order of proceedings, the gamer gets to experience everything from escaping from the Quidditch World Cup campsite, to participating in the Tri-Wizard Tournament events and even being able to get your groove on at the Yule Ball. Players unfamiliar with the book (or movie) might get a little lost amongst the bullet-like speed of the storyline, but will find solace within the moderately paced gameplay.

EAUK have recognised the limitations of the DS and played it safe with the game’s design, but ultimately, it comes off brilliantly. Borrowing heavily from the GBA version, at first glance it just looks like a jazzed up copy, but scratch the surface and you will find so much more. The main game that is shared between the DS and GBA versions has a surprising amount of depth to offer. Being able to choose between Harry, Ron and Hermione isn’t just there for show, they each have their own strength’s and weaknesses. While Harry rules the roost in terms of attacking power, he is also the most susceptible to damage from an enemy and while Ron is the fastest mover on screen (very helpful getting away from those pesky Blast Ended Skrewts) and inturn has the worst attacking power. In some levels the player encounters a hoard of enemies and generally moves at a slow pace, whereas in other levels there is a need to shuffle quickly past random-steam-shooting vents - being fast is certainly a help there.


That red trunk was beginning to look a bit shifty

Like any Harry Potter game, you attack magically with your wand. Context sensitive magic spells make this game a pleasure to play. Spells are cast with the ‘a’ button (for a short spurted spell) and the ‘b’ button (for a stream spell). The short spells cover the basics like temporarily confusing enemies, sending logs and carriages rolling out of the way as well as opening chests (which contain various goodies like cards and Tri-Wizard shields), whereas the stream spells offer much more control and depth. When casting any of the corresponding spells the player takes full control over the sustained stream of magic which can be manipulated by pressing the D pad. A perfect example of this is casting “Wingardium Leviosa” (a levitating charm) on a confused creature, allowing the player to levitate the critter to its doom. Occasionally you will need assistance moving some objects as they are too heavy to move on your own - a tap on the ‘L’ button will have friends assemble and assist in moving the object.

Well groomed gamers will be annoyed by the developer’s inclusion of a spell-out-the-way-to-defeat-the-enemy feature, which emanates from comrades (via text on the bottom screen) each time a new foe is encountered. While the experienced gamer would prefer the satisfaction of negotiating and triumphing over the terrain using their own devices, this feature has clearly been included so as not to alienate younger and inexperienced players (or the generation X freaks who are desperate to be ‘hip’).

Potter devotees will be teeming with excitement to know they have the opportunity to use their stylus as a wand. Sometimes when attacking an enemy, a 3D battle will initiate. You are able to attack and defend using the touch screen, with the enemy displayed on the top screen. There are 3 different types of magic spells to attack with a few different ways of defending (depending on the type of enemy attack) – all of which involve using the touch screen to do things like draw magical symbols or create defensive shields. However, the innovations don’t stop there.


Master the green magic balls of doom.....and your tracing skills!

If only my high school formal was as fun as the Yule Ball I would have been dancing up a storm Dance Dance Revolution style all night instead of holding back my date’s hair while she vomited uncontrollably into the foliage. It’s time to attend the Yule Ball in style, decked out in your snazziest formal gear (except for Ron whose attire makes him look not unlike Frankenstein’s monster) whilst getting-on-down DDR style. Press the corresponding buttons in unison as they pass over the screen and by attaining certain gradings, other tunes and difficulties can be unlocked. Another nifty inclusion that just happens to be DS exclusive is that of mini-games in the main adventure which include anything from sorting Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans to feeding a Hippogriff. Unlockable from the main game, if the player wins them whilst playing in Adventure mode they are then able to be played in the mini-games mode (which saves you from having to go all the way through the game again to play them).

The other game mode that really shines through as the best DS exclusive feature is the “Care of Magical Creatures” extra. This is what only can be described as a Nintendogs Harry Potter-style, as you take care of your own virtual pet - Niffler. After blowing on the whistle using the microphone to call the cute little critter from its home, you can feed, bathe and give it toys to play with and once its happiness quota is filled, you get to scratch it with the stylus to help increase its overall happiness. While not as engrossing as Nintendogs it certainly offers a high level of interactivity and something that the player is going to want to come back to, as the more you interact, the more you get out of it.

Visually, while the main game doesn’t really push the DS’s hardware to any extent by presenting majority of the game in a 2D aspect, EAUK have really made every facet look as beautiful and detailed as possible. Everything moves fluidly without a hitch; characters, creatures and nefarious shrubbery that spring to life right before your eyes. While the character models themselves have no faces, the familiar mugs are displayed on the bottom screen to alert the player to the character of which they are in control and also have a secondary option of being able to call comrades individually by tapping their icons, which ultimately proves redundant by pressing ‘L’ instead. EAUK truly strike a cord when the 3D elements emerge. 3D battles, mini-games and Care of Magical Creatures modes all offer a feast for the eyes with their vast array of complimenting colour schemes and environments which takes the DS hardware to places where it didn’t go in the majority of the adventure.


And what classroom is complete without it's very own tree trunk?

Whilst the sound throughout Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is synonymous with the HP movies and is effective in its use, EAUK has not exploited the DS capabilities nearly enough where expected. As every diehard Potter fan would be aware, when casting a spell, a visual as well as a verbal is a given, but unfortunately in this case we are without speech. Spells are not accompanied by words - quite the faux pas when dealing with seasoned HP heads. Voice overs are also annoyingly absent from cut-scenes. Much can be forgiven though as the impressive atmospheric sound is redeeming in its quality.

Once the multifaceted journey has drawn to a close, do not despair as your owl hasn’t flown the coup just yet - there is more than enough to warrant Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire an extended stay in your DS slot. There’s a cauldron of wizardry to splash about in – replay levels to track down the elusive collector cards to enhance stats and complete Folio Universitas, earn Tri-Wizard shields for performing various tasks to unlock other bonuses, master dance moves at the Yule Ball to unlock extra songs and difficulty levels. There are also the added DS exclusive features of Mini-Game mode to replay your favourite mini-games and play with virtual Nintendogs-like pet in Care of Magical Creature mode. Multi-card multiplayer is also an option offering up a “Duel Club” mode in which you duel a friend in the 3D battle style as well as a multiplayer version of “Care of Magical Creatures” mode. While these notable additions add another level of replayability, the primary focus of this game is definitely the single player mode.

Serious pupils of Hogwarts take note – this is a castle with many rooms just waiting for you to open its creaky doors. There is a variety overload in terms of gameplay; with fundamental 2D gameplay enhanced by the context sensitive magic scheme, a horribly addictive DDR-esque section, 6 fun and quirky mini-games and taking care of your own virtual pet Nintendogs style, not to mention multiplayer mode and a bevy of extras to come back for. The game is delivered through charming visuals and striking cut-scenes. While the regular levels do tend to drag on a bit and the main adventure lasts only about 8-10 hours, its shortcomings are overshadowed by the game’s higher points.

If you’re a closest wand wagger, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire DS will be right up your Diagon Alley.
The Score
Not overly-fussed on the 2D, but the generous peppering of 3D as well as entertaining and engrossing interactive games - only possible on the DS - injects a unique zest resulting in a worthwhile adventure. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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10 Comments
8 years ago
Excellent stuff and a pleasent surprise with the game.
I really hope gamebang sticks around icon_biggrin.gif
8 years ago
Thanks and I promise I won't pull a Houdini *shifty eyes*
8 years ago
Nice review gamebang. icon_biggrin.gif

Must say I'm surprised with the score.
8 years ago
Nice review.
Hope to see more.
8 years ago
Is it ok to give contructive criticism?I thought there was a tad toooooo much humour in the review.....but thats just me.Otherwise very professional.
8 years ago
Yeah, higher than expected scores! I was expecting around the 5 range. Oh well, can't complain
8 years ago
^
same here
8 years ago
very nice cant wait to see it
8 years ago
Thanks for all the positive feedback, very encouraging
8 years ago
no problam nick
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  EA Games
Developer:
  EA Games

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