HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE (aka THE SORCERER'S STONE)

Hogwarts Term Begins...

Be Harry Potter in a magical adventure filled with wizardry, fun, and danger.

Features:
  • Explore Hogwarts while solving puzzles, casting spells, battling foes, and uncovering secrets.
  • Take flight to play Quidditch
  • Collect Wizard Cards, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans
  • Interact with over 20 unforgettable characters from J.K. Rowling's world, including Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Rubeus Hagrid
~ from the back of the box
 
I was pushed into being a Harry Potter fan. The hype was so huge in among the people I surrounded myself with at the time that not long after the first movie came out, I succumbed the pressure and read the books even though they were aimed at muggles far younger than I. In my opinion, their stories are better than their narratives, with some really bad writing in places, but it’s in the Wizarding World where the magic truly lies. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has tonnes of imaginative world-building and lore which is what I really clung on to, and it is this that makes for a great set up for a video game.

There were quite a few adaptations of the first movie, each one published by Electronic Arts. As licenced games go, they're not that bad but by far the best came out exclusively on PCs. Here, Harry plays like a breezy 3D platformer with third-person shooter controls and almost free reign of the corridors at Hogwarts. The school with a shocking disregard for health and safety acts as a basic hub world of sorts that flow pretty seamlessly if a little linearly into each stage. Be warned, there is only one section where most of the grounds are explorable, so make sure you find everything.

Trace the line in class to learn a new spell (left), 
then use it to unlock secrets or get through levels (right).

Most levels are a lesson. You learn a spell by playing a little mini-game, then use what you learned in an obstacle course. You’ll be graded on how well you do and be rewarded with house points. Within these stages, there are a number of collectables, including Chocolate Frogs (which also give you a bit of health), Wizard Cards, Jelly Beans (which you can trade with the Weasely twins for more cards), and gold stars. There are five of these stars in each lesson and these will determine your points.

Later on, the spells are put to good use in less academic stages such as a perilous trip to visit Hagrid or a trip through some dungeons. Each one is used in the same way; hold down the left mouse button, then aim at something you can interact with. A symbol relating to what you can do, such as Flipendo to flip things or Wingardium Leviosa to lift things, will appear letting you know you can release the mouse and something will happen. Mostly, you discover Jelly Beans. These events are entirely context sensitive, so there are no puzzles around what you can do, just if. I would’ve liked the ability to try each spell however I like but we are talking about an early 2000s licenced kid’s game here.

Your game saves automatically when you run into a floating book (left).
View your collectable Wizard Cards from the menu (right)

In between all the platforming and spellcasting, you can jump on a broom and fly around for a bit. As first, it’s just flying through rings conjuring Superman 64 flashbacks, but future straddles of the Nimbus 2000 sees you knocking Draco Malfoy off his high horse or chasing snitches in a game of Quidditch. You can even play the convoluted sport directly from the main menu if you only want a quick round or two. These sections show off how good looking the game was for 2001. The draw distance is far, textures detailed and art design bright and enchanting if you can forgive the sporadic glitch that is. It all moves along at a fast and smooth pace. And none of it overstays its welcome.

As you can imagine from the child-friendly source material, the game is designed to be incredibly easy. Considering the younger target audience, this is no shock, but what is surprising is just how entertaining it all is. There are a few polygonal clips here and a T-posing Peeves there, but it is never less than fun. I will say that a fan-made strafing patch goes some way to help with this, bringing it closer to more modern control sensibilities, but even back in the day I enjoyed it quite a bit. Whatever your thoughts on the franchise (or its transphobic author - ugh) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is well worth a play through.


To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer runs natively on Windows. Manuals included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 387 Mb.  Install Size: 563 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (aka Sorcerer's Stone) is © Electronic Arts
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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2 comments:

  1. This was a childhood game. I tend to ignore these as being part of the author. Even if she might have had to sign off or be somewhat a part of things. I myself like Chamber of Secrets much better on PC but this game was fun to break. Fun fact: If you go backwards into rooms, the cutscnene camera would have absolutely no idea where to go and twirls weirdly.

    It has it's flaws with Qudditch taking upwards to 30 minutes or 6 minutes depending on how good you were and Spell learning is sadistically precise and tedious. There is absolutely no point whatsoever in doing well in classes. Slytherin will always be ahead. How ahead depends on your spell learning.

    Despite some flaws, the first three PC games are in my opinion the best. Same with the consoles. Once 4 started, they focused more on movies. Half Blood Prince in my opinion captures the closest feel of the first 3 PC/Console games and was at least fun.

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    1. This was the only one I played on release and I really enjoyed it. Playing through Chamber of Secrets now (spoiler for next post) and I agree it is a much better game. I do prefer the Broom flight and Quidditch sequences of the first, but I guess by now the Quidditch World Cup spin off was already underway. Don't want two games doing the same thing.

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