Did this game cast a spell on me? Pretty well . . . but not entirely.
When the game fires up there are three save slots for you to choose from. Once you select your slot you are taken to the main menu, where you have six options. The first option is "Single Player" and this is the main story mode of the game. When you choose this option you start off at the first level and as you complete levels you unlock the following level until all eleven levels are available for play. What's nice is that within the eleven levels there is a little bit of variation. Most of the levels have your character running around various environments completing the tasks that are set out for you, but there is also one "vehicle" level where you get to fly Harry on his broom stick, there is one level where all you do is dance by pressing the appropriate buttons as they flash across the screen, and there is also one level that takes place underwater. In roughly half of the levels you can choose whether you want to control Harry, Ron or Hermione, but the rest of the levels are all centred around Harry so you have no choice but to use him.
Continuing on with single player mode there are a few things you have to look out for throughout the levels of the game. Bertie Botts beans are the most prevalent item you will find and this is good, because they are what you use to purchase some of the unlockable content in the game. You will also find Chocolate Frogs from time to time, which replenish your character's health. In most levels you will find Bertie Botts Collector's Cards. They are usually hidden in chests scattered throughout the levels of the game. Some cards when you find them will go directly in to your inventory however, other cards you simply unlock for purchase. So although you've found a card, you have to go and buy it with your beans before it is added to your inventory. And then there are some collector's cards that you earn simply be completing the level. The total number and distribution of types of collector's cards vary greatly from level to level, there are even a few levels that don't contain any collector's cards. On about half a dozen of the levels, when you complete the collector's card set associated with that level, you unlock a special House Booster card for purchase. These booster cards come in three types: Attack, Defence and Speed. When you purchase these house cards your character's performance ratings in the corresponding category will increase. The last thing you need to look for are Tri-Wizard shields, which are also usually found hidden in chests. Like the collector's cards, each level has a different number of shields to collect and there are a few levels that don't have any at all.
The second option from the main menu is "Multiplayer" mode. Same game but with two people. Easy enough.
The third option is "Options". Here you can adjust settings on the music, sound effects, light display and sleep mode.
The fourth option is "Folio Universitas". This is where you go to view all of the collector's cards you have collected in the game. You can scroll through each level to see which cards you have and which cards you still need to find.
The fifth option is "Credits". Need I say more?
And the sixth and final option is "Bonuses Unlocked". If you collect all of the bonus content in the game you will unlock a couple of special bonuses. I'm not going to say what they are but I know there are at least two of them, one you get when you find all the collector's cards in the game, and the other when you find all of the Tri-Wizard shields in the game.
As for the game's presentation, it is fantastic! The graphics and sound are really well done. And the controls are pretty good as well, there are no issues there whatsoever. As for the control layout, the A button is used to cast certain spells, as is the B button. Each of these buttons has a certain list of spells associated with it, and depending on your situation in the game the correct spell will automatically be cast to suit said situation. To start the game off you only know two spells but over the course of the game you learn and gain new spells. I believe there are around 10 spells in total. Anyhoo, moving on the L button is used to ask your friends for help. If there is an object too heavy for one person to lift, press L and your two chums will come over and assist you. The D-pad is used to move your character around the environment and to aim your spells. The R button is only used in a couple of levels. As I mentioned earlier there is a dancing level where images of the four buttons (A, B, L, R) will scroll across the screen and you have to press them in the same order in order to get your character to dance. This and one other level like it are the only instances when the R button is used in the game. The Start button is used to pause the game naturally, and from the pause menu you have some choices. The first two options are "Folio Universitas" and "Options" and are exactly the same as I described earlier. The third option is called "Weasley's Wares". When I mentioned at the start that some of the collector's cards, once you find them, have to be purchased? This is where you go to do said purchasing. You can't do it from the main menu of the game, you can only do it in game.
The only bad thing I can say about this game . . . and I'm starting to sound like a broken record . . . is the overall game length. Although there are a few levels that seem really, really long, if you laid all eleven levels out in a row and just went through them start to finish, you would find the game to be pretty short. However, they make it seem longer because you have to replay each level so many times in order to find all of the collector's cards and shields. But again, short game length is usually one of the main problems when it comes to a handheld title. It also would have been nice if they could have included more of the secondary characters in the game. Outside of Harry, Ron and Hermione the only other character's in the game are Arthur Weasley, Mad-Eye Moody, Hagrid, Cedric Diggory, and Voldemort. Kind of disappointing. But other than that this game was a real treat to play! My only advice to you is to be patient. Sometimes you have to play ahead a few levels in order to collect all of the collector's cards and shields in any given level. Sometimes it takes a new spell to get to a hidden area you were previously confused about. Also, although most of the collector's cards are found in the level they are associated with, there are a number that are found in a different level from the level they count towards. It can be a bit confusing!
Overall I'd have to say this is a really good game. Not great, but really good. A few minor tweaks here and there, a couple more levels or so, and this game could have been awesome. Good game though, no matter what.