Using magic is awesome, but why does it have to be so annoying?

User Rating: 5 | LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 WII

The Good: Great variety of spells and potions, very charming, funny as heck, using magic to change your surroundings and solve puzzles is awesome, lots of collectibles, mostly good controls.

The Bad: Targeting is off, jumping mechanic is clunky, design quirks ruin the flow of gameplay, annoying bugs, friendly AI is stupid, freakishly annoying sound effects, horrible vehicle controls, missing game mechanics are much needed.

Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is a game that I got a couple years ago from a friend for my birthday. I didn't really play it until recently. What really surprised me about this games is all the positive reviews on Gamespot. On the Wii, the highest user rating is a 10 and the lowest is a 7.5 (until now, that is). Is it enjoyable? Yes. Is it a good game? Not really.

Let's start off with the magic. There's a huge variety of spells and potions for you to use, which is nice. It doesn't really feel limited and each spell and potion is useful in it's own way. The problem with the magic is the targeting. It is way off. There are times when I am literally aiming my magic at someone and I hit something in front of it or just completely misses the thing that I'm aiming at. It gets really frustrating, especially if you just want to advance through the level.

What's also off is the jumping mechanic. It's stiff and clunky. Sometimes, if you want to make a jump, you'll barely miss and not make it to the other side. They don't jump high or far at all.

That being said, the game does have lots of charm. Especially in the presentation. It's really funny! There's a whole bunch of zany humor that I can't help from smiling and laughing. Personally, I think the cutscenes are the best part of the game.

I also like the use of magic to change your surroundings. It's really cool! You can use magic to build things, break things, and solve puzzles. It makes the levels more interesting and more fun. The problem with it is that it has occasional design quirks that ruin the flow of the game. There's this one point where I had to put these blocks on another block so I could cross without jumping. There were to areas that I had to do this, because on both I couldn't make the jump. The problem was that they appeared in front of one of the areas and I couldn't move them to the other section. Plus, once you get them on and above the block, you cannot move it down again. One of the blocks even got stuck, and I had to restart the level. But, somehow, when I did, it actually took me to the next level, so I guess I beat the level without even completing it. It may seem kind of nitpicky, but it's those quirks that ruin the flow of gameplay.

Speaking of which, this game has random, annoying bugs. Whether if it's someone running through something or someone just randomly twitching, they're there. They don't happen often, but they are noticeable.

Speaking of which, the friendly AI is pretty bad. They'll follow you around fine, but they can easily get stuck on something or fall of the edge and die. When you're solving a puzzle that takes more than one person, the AI is fine, but anywhere else, it's not impressive.

The worst part of the game? The sound effects. HOLY CRAP, ARE THEY ANNOYING! I'm not talking about the ones in the cutscenes, I'm talking about the ones during gameplay. Almost every sound, whether it's smirking from the Slytherin students, laughing, something inside a treasure chest trying to break out, or even running by crumbled Lego blocks, is annoying in their own way. The worst offender is the root things that scream. I HATE THOSE THINGS SO MUCH! When you hear them scream, you have to run to a wardrobe, put on earmuffs, then grab it and stuff it in a pot. What makes it worse is that when you grab the root, you walk 2x slower! What's even worse than that is you actually have to deal with these things to advance through some levels! NO! JUST NO!

For the most part, controls work fine, with the exception of the vehicle sections. They're horrible. They're overly sensitive and swerve too much. And for the broomstick, to go up, you have to hold down the A button. Why the A button? Why not, oh I don't know, holding the joystick upwards? That would be better and less confusing.

Finally, the game is missing things that could be fun. I want to play Quidditch, but I don't get to through the story. I want to ride in the flying car. I do, but it's not what I'd like. I want to fly in it, ride around in an open world, collect coins in the air, find collectibles. Not drive on the road, running from a spider, using extremely slippery controls. If it had those things and more, this game would've been much better.

Overall, this game is weak. I want to like this game, trust me, I really do. It's funny, it has a huge variety of spells and potions, it has great presentation, and using magic to solve puzzles and change your surroundings is awesome. But, the targeting is off, the jumping mechanic is clunky, the design quirks are annoying, the bugs are annoying, the AI is stupid, the sound effects are gut wrenchingly bad, and the vehicle controls are awful. This kind of game is really hard to recommend. If you're a Harry Potter fan, then get it. If you're not, it's best if you look elsewhere.