Back during the build-up for the original release of LEGO Harry Potter, I was massively excited for it. I’d already played and enjoyed Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and the trailers for Harry Potter were doing their job in getting me excited for it. When I played it, there was a certain magic to it – and I’m not just saying that because of the setting of the series.
There was a lot to love with it, and once Years 5-7 released a year later, both The Clone Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean had released, both of which I’d also enjoyed. But that did lessen the enjoyment of the second Harry Potter game – despite there being several new elements to it.
It wasn’t the fact I was getting burnt out from LEGO games, but that playing the other two between the two of Harry Potter raised a highlight of the games I hadn’t much recognised while playing the first. And this is the thing I call the Harry Potter syndrome.
The first game offered a variety of levels, with plenty of puzzles and a smattering of action. The second game offered plenty of puzzles and a smattering of action. But to be able to craft such a thing, small moments of the films had to be stretched out into full levels.
Some of those sections do offer a good level, such as the two at the Quidditch pitch, though with others you could feel the strain of having to reach for things to turn into levels.
Crabbe and Goyle being one such level from the second year, with Mischief Managed and Secret of the Egg being more notable ones from the third and fourth years respectively.
With 5-7 though, such stretching for levels became more prominent with the fifth and sixth years, with half of the levels having such a feeling.
Whether that be Focus! inventing an entire level (though admittedly a nice concept for such) during the point where Snape teaches Harry to resist infiltration of the mind, or Just Desserts taking three moments from the sixth film relating to Slughorn and putting them into one level, each of which being just a singular location.
It’s also not just the fact they’re stretching the material to build a level, but the fact the puzzles tend to repeat themselves during such levels with mostly the same sort of thing being done.
With the Quidditch levels, there’s a variety of things being done as you rush from one side of the pitch to the other, with the second level being near enough a boss fight against Dobby as you try to stop him bewitching the Bludger.
With Just Desserts, however, you’ll mostly be using Wingardium Leviosa, with the occasional target shooting of a spell and transporting things. The same thing applies for those other levels mentioned.
You might be doing more of it in some of those other levels, but it still doesn’t help that out of all the options you have for puzzles, it nearly always is solved with a Wingardium Leviosa. I get that it’s a go-to spell that’s able to do a lot, but there’s plenty of other spells that are very situational which could be used to break up the overuse of that one spell.
The Harry Potter syndrome has shown itself in other games to a lesser extent, such as the one level of The Force Awakens where you stock up the Falcon with supplies, but they rarely appear that often or follow each other that it isn’t much of a problem.
With The Skywalker Saga set to bring the LEGO game series into a new generation, the one thing I wish would happen is a new game using the Harry Potter licence that brings about a larger and less repetitive experience for the series.
Now sure, you aren’t going to have a massive amount of locations you can travel to, but the castle of Hogwarts can certainly be recreated in a grander and more accurate scale to how it previously appeared. Not only that, but there would be plenty more to do around the castle.
Or you could create more locations but have fewer levels per year. Those levels would be for the important parts of the story, while everything else would play out in the overworld hubs.
I’ll leave it there, since Skywalker Saga isn’t even out yet for us to know exactly how it will be, and there’s something else I’ll be building up once it has released. Just think to what I said a previous What I’m Waiting For when talking of LEGO games, and you’ll have an idea of what that will be.