LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

Hairy Plotter

Avada Kedavra, Lego franchise!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: May 12, 2012
It seems like a long time ago when we reviewed Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 for the PS3. Oh wait, that is because it WAS a long time ago! So it isn't the freshest game on earth that got ported to Vita, and this new Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 doesn't really stand out as a showpiece of the new system.


While most of the game made the transition to the small screen, this isn't an exact copy by any stretch. Quite a few bits of gameplay are shoved off into cutscenes, and the cutscenes themselves appear to have been ported from the 3DS version of the game. Given the differences in resolution between the two systems, you'd expect those cutscenes to not look so great, and you'd be right. They tend to be extremely blurry and make the crystal clear Vita screen look like someone poured polyjuice potion all over it. What's up with that?

Technical issues aside, Lego Harry Potter is far more puzzle-oriented than it's Lego predecessors. Combat is held to a bare minimum as you'll spend most of your time figuring out which Weasley, Potter, Granger or professor you need to unlock the next area. As (Lego) franchise fans know, none of the game play or puzzle solving is exactly brain-bending, as these games are intended to be as kid-friendly as possible. The game is broken up into 4 levels, each representing one of the films, and there are 4-5 sublevels for each movie. Strewn throughout those levels are hundreds upon hundreds of collectibles, the vast majority of which can only be grabbed by specific characters with special spells and powers who aren't available in the Story Mode playthrough. So expect to run through everything at least twice if you want to see everything the game has to offer.

By now everyone knows how these games play, and Lego Harry Potter tries to spice things up a bit with a few minigames, with the main one being the dueling club. Unfortunately, the dueling club is rather dull and repetitive, requiring you to spend 5 minutes tapping a couple buttons for each duel, of which there are almost 100 of. Sure, you can take almost anyone into the club, but they don't control any differently and other than trophy hunting, there isn't any reason to use more than one character.

Thankfully the series at least retains the charming cutscenes that put a cute spin on the stories (when you can see what's happening past the blur). It's pretty hilarious when you see that Voldemort kills Snape because he ate his cupcakes. Add in the silly Charlie Brown-esque voices that everyone speaks in, and if you don't crack a smile than clearly you must have the Dark Mark.

It wouldn't be a Vita game if they didn't shoehorn in some touchscreen controls, and in this case it isn't the most elegant solution. The front touchscreen can be used to aim spells, but in practice it's far clumsier than just using the buttons, and after about 3 minutes I stopped using them and never looked back. The best use of them was tapping on the context sensitive hints that would appear at times. In the end, all the touchscreen controls do is smudge up the screen even more, so the cutscenes end up looking like you are watching them through a vat of vaseline.

If you've played any other version, or COULD play any other version of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 then you probably should skip this one. It doesn't do all that much for the tired Lego formula, so if you've played a lot of these games it likely won't hold your interest. If you love Harry Potter and collecting bits, then there is still enough humor and charm in here to make it worth your time. Overall it doesn't showcase the high points of the Vita and ends up feeling like a lazy effort to squeeze a few more pennies out of this series.
The Verdict
6.5

A lackluster port of a middling game that does little to showcase the exciting new system it's on means only the diehard fans need to bother spending time with the world's most famous wizard.

6.0Graphics:

The game looks surprisingly poor, with the models being blocky (haha!), the backgrounds dull and the cutscenes inexplicably blurry.

8.5Sound:

It's fantastic that they were able to license much of the music from the films, and of course the charming Legolish that everyone speaks in never really gets old. Sound is probably the highlight of this game.

7.5Control:

The standard controls are just fine, although changing spells somehow isn't as intuitive as I'd like. The shoehorned in touchscreen controls are frivolous and best ignored.

6.5Gameplay:

The gameplay of the Lego franchises is getting pretty long in the tooth at this point. There is very little action this time around, and the puzzle heavy spirit of the game is somewhat ruined by the overall simplicity of everything.