From the top: Did I read the books? Nope. Did I see all the movies? All but one. What’d I think of the movies that I did see? Most were eh.
You’re certainly not reading the words of the most diehard of Harry Potter wand-wavers in the world. I completely understand how many have fallen in love with the Rowling-verse, especially when the whimsy finally gave way to actual stories later in the series (burn!), but chalk me up as a passer-by admirer for most of this circus. Copy all that, change the proper nouns, and you have my exact feelings for the Lego games as well.
Slapping the two together into Lego Harry Potter Collection is a recipe that lands the package hard in the “meh” category of gameplay experiences. In my – to be fair, distant – experience with the properties chosen for blockification, there are but a handful of said licenses that actually lend themselves well to the Lego satan-bound creed of collecting everything under the sun. You’d think wizards and sorcerers, being seen posing with the lord of damnation himself at Goblet of Fire ceremonies or whatever, would be a goat sacrifice to the pentagram altar that is checking off boxes from an endless list. Too bad it feels like eight of every ten checks on this eternal mobius strip gives no real reason to keep going ‘round again.
I swear to Jupiter, if I had a nickel for every useless skin change I found in this pair of games, I could use them to shout “Avenge me!” while falling into a full swimming pool of Thomas Jefferson’s shined face. Don’t make it so I can go online and see that the 367 total characters across both games boils down to 238 when you strip down the wardrobe flipbooks – 50 of which belong to the main trio alone. That’s not even to broach the characters that added nothing to the books, lore, or my experience with their inclusion.
What kills the enjoyment at the root with unlocking characters is how rigid Lego Harry Potter feels with doling out little face tokens. I don’t care about Gryffindor Boy, but I got him to unlock before Tom Riddle or Sirius Black or…Lucius! Superhero titles make sense with this rigid approach, giving a spotlight to someone with a different history and powers before they’re tossed aside for Thor or Hulk. Harry Potter characters are far more scarce in their abilities and the Lego visual aesthetic doesn’t lend itself well to their distinct styles, so why be excited to see another face in a crowd of standard faces?
Backing up that hate train from the gate, there will always be a glimmer of fun to be had in collecting bits in levels. It’s a simplistic gimme to say “collecting things is fun” as a positive but a tight loop of feedback will always be appreciated to me, and the bits, specifically, are always satisfying to see pile up. Ratchet & Clank and Borderlands 2 are similar in those loops, tightened by watching numbers go up while enemies go down; it works across the board.
On a gameplay level, years 5-7 feel better to play in more focused, less gimmicky stages. There are still lots and lots of pit stops to get some progress rolling, which kneecaps the pacing from the word go, but it is clear that Traveller’s Tales found useful feedback and applied it from years 1-4. The foundation of both games is more focused on characters not gameplay and that shows with the lack of variety in standard stages, dousing malaise under the feet of each chosen Potter avatar as well as my numbing thumbs.
So what ends up making Lego Harry Potter Collection “meh” instead of gross? Grading on a curve you might find featured as an Olympic slalom next Olympics (fingers-crossed!). Throw aside the fact that these games were aimed at kids originally and the HD tag and you’re left with experiences that fulfill everything needed to make them Lego titles and nothing more. I can’t damn them further with some cool ideas sprinkled in there for levels and slight sparks of fun with some of the characters. Make no mistake though, Harry Potter’s flatline of interest is a gaming sin that no title should ever commit.
LEGO Harry Potter Collection Score: