Games for Lunch: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
0:00 Yeah, it's a licensed game, but the promise of using the Wii remote as an ACTUAL magic wand was enough for me to give it a try.
0:01 Wait, the game needs a Nunchuk attachment? What kind of magic wand needs an attachment? Lame!
0:02 Hedwig flies into Hogwart's as a bunch of suitably blocky students practice dueling, levitating, fire-starting, etc. with some horribly stilted animation. The school environment looks great, though, and I love the sweeping orchestral score.
0:04 Hedwig alights on Harry's arm as he stands meaningfully in a room with Ron and Hermione, all of them looking directly at the camera for no apparent reason. They look ready to take on the world. By the way, if you don't know who any of these characters are, read a book for gosh sake.
0:05 The main menu takes place on a suitably magical, moving page of the Daily Prophet. I'll go with Normal difficulty, even though I'm afraid even Hard will be designed for mentally challenged three-year-olds.
0:06 EA and WB logos. A crystal ball. Clouds and flying dementors. Harry reading the Prophet on a swing. ?Big D? Dursley walks in with his posse and makes fun of Harry for crying. Then they get attacked under the bridge. It's just like the opening scenes of the movie, except blockier and harder to follow. Seriously, if I didn't already know what was going on I'd have no idea what was going on.
0:07 The game tells me to hit B to take out my wand, then ?move it repeatedly? to ?summon a patronus.? I do, and Harry does. Then another cut scene. Wow, that was like three whole seconds of gameplay there. Be careful, EA! I could get used to this!
0:08 ?Danger to the wizarding community? It was self-defense!? says Sirius Black as Harry comes to live with his godfather. The voice acting is great, but the characters look like death warmed over. ?Welcome to #12 Grimmauld Place, the home of the Order of the Phoenix.? Ginny complains she's been ?cleaning for mum? most of the time she's been here, and asks Harry to help. A cleaning mini-game? Really? If I wanted to clean my room, I wouldn't play a game about a freaking boy wizard.
0:12 Learning spells, la dee da. Flicking the remote up does an ?Accio? pull, while pushing down does a ?Deporso? [sic?] push. The aim is kind of odd and imprecise, but the game seems to auto-aim for you in this intro, at least.
0:13 Now Sirius and I are off to find Hermione and Ron. We have to repair stuff using ?Reparo? -- a circular remote/wand motion. More chores? Ugh.
0:15 It's actually kind of cool watching plates and cabinets repair themselves magically. At least this doesn't feel like something I could do without magic. The room-cleaning mini-game just made me think Harry and Ginny are lazy.
0:16 Helping Ron pack ... with MAGIC! ?Wingardium Leviosa? asks you to flick both the remote and Nunchuck up, then guide the levitated object around by leaning the controllers like flight sticks. It's surprisingly intuitive.
0:18 Sirius goes to a meeting with the Order. ?I wonder if this meeting's important,? Hermione says in a fit of uncharacteristic nitwittiness. Another cut scene... eavesdropping with the twins. This is like ?Short Attention Span Theater,? everything is so compressed! I read the book and saw the movie, and I can still barely follow it.
0:20 Harry's trial is already done and Umbridge is being introduced. At this rate, we'll be done with book seven in an hour or so.
0:21 Ron and Harry are in the Hogwart's courtyard. We've got to get to the common room. We run into the Granger twins. They tell me to use the marauder's map with a tip of the minus button. Lots of locations around the place, but only one I can go to now: Hermione. After I select her, little footprints guide my way around the school. Neat, subtle design choice. The little things matter!
0:24 Awkward cut scene talk with Cho, made more awkward because Ron doesn't like the Quidditch team she wears on her robes. ?People only started supporting the tornadoes when they won the league,? he says. Uh... YEAH! I can relate!
0:26 Running up seven flights of empty, identical stairs to get to the common room = not exactly fun.
0:27 Ron doesn't know the password to get in. Luckily, there's a random Griffyndor first-year wandering around who does. After we talk, he tries to run away but gets stuck in the scenery. Eventually he dislodges and scampers off like a scared little mouse. Many unintended laughs here.
0:28 ?Use your magic to flip the notice board.? Really? Are these wizards so lazy they can't use their hands for manual labor as simple as flipping a blackboard? I'm surprised their arms haven't atrophied from lack of use.
0:30 Off to Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Shades of Bully, but with more magic and, somehow, less appeal.
0:32 There's a two-minute soliloquy here on why we can't get into the room of reward (a.k.a the unlockables room). We bribe our way in by threatening to sic Moaning Myrtle on the guard portrait. Whatever.
0:33 Myrtle's voice is incredibly creepy. Hermione's voice makes me want to strangle her whenever she talks.
0:34 I have 20/4,360 ?discovery points? and the game is 6 percent complete. So, a ten-hour game, roughly?
0:35 Neat touch: Harry holds the handrails as he walks downstairs. Awful touch: having to hold down the Z button to run. My finger is starting to cramp.
0:36 All the people I talk to say, ?You're Harry Potter, aren't you.? But the accent is so thick, it sounds more like ?You're a reporter, aren't you??
0:39 Some neat magic-based puzzles around the castle -- like one that makes me levitate pieces of a broken portrait. Cute, but I can't help but feel these jobs are more appropriate for the school janitor, not The Boy Who Lived.
0:41 I completed Discovery Level 1 and my spells are now more powerful. Myrtle comes by to say I haven't visited the ?special room? recently. That's funny, I remember visiting it at 0:34.
0:42 Neville is getting picked on. All right, time for some dueling action! But all I have to do is pull out my wand and they scatter off. What a gyp.
0:43 I have to say, I'm impressed with the level of detail in Hogwart's. Can't say I'm happy running for miles just to get to class, though, even if there is plenty to do on the way.
0:44 I stumble upon a joke-telling boar statue. I am not making this up. ?How many house elves does it take to feed a dragon? That depends how hungry it is! HAHAHAHA!? I feel like I stumbled onto a Harry Potter fan message board.
0:46 More jokes. ?How many Slytherins does it take to feed a Hippogriff? Ten: One to feed it, and nine to say 'With my father's connections in the ministry, I could feed it faster.? ? It's a bad sign that I find these kind of funny.
0:48 A close-up of Dolores Umbridge's blocky face is what I see in my darkest dreams. Or, it will be now. Meanwhile, Harry gets detention for telling the truth.
0:49 So since our Dada teacher is useless, we're gonna ask Ron and George to teach us spells.
0:50 Talking to random passersby is a highly hit-or-miss affair. Some react almost humanly: ?Get lost Potter,? or ?Do you smell mudbloods?? Others just make no sense. ?Do you want to come to the owlery with me?? Um... no? Why are you asking me this?
0:53 ?Expeliarimus!? It's a lot like Reparo, same motion and everything. How does the game know I don't want to repair my opponent?
0:54 ?Stupefy? is a quick thrust of both hands into the screen. Awkward to use. They tell me to ?practice on any passing Slytherin.? I'm off to detention -- but before I can go, I'm challenged to a duel by some random passerby. Convenient!
0:55 Two stupefies and an expeliarimus and he's out. Damn... this is almost exciting. The way my opponent rolls on the ground and on his knees makes me almost feel sorry for him. But that's what you get when you mess with Harry Potter.
0:56 Detention takes about two seconds. Luckily, they don't show that really disturbing scene from the movie with the words getting carved into Harry's flesh.
0:58 Surprising fun to be had just hanging around the common room. I can throw logs in a fire, levitate a table and drop it on fellow students, even play a game of wizard chess (against a REALLY BAD opponent).
1:03 I stay past my deadline to complete the dreadful chess game. I won in five minutes without losing a piece. That was laughable.
Would I play this game for more than an hour?: No
Why? I'm JUST shy of being enough of a Potter freak to really enjoy all the little touches. That said, there are far worse licensed games out there.
This column is based on a retail copy of the game rented from GameFly.
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