Traveller's Tales' Lego games are rarely given awards for being the most polished titles on the market or for showing off highly innovative gameplay, but there's one thing that I've learned I can expect from this series, which I've messed around a bit with since the original Lego Star Wars—fun, if sometimes flawed, games with a humorous take on big movies that the family can enjoy, particularly in co-op mode.

So I'm not really sure what happened with the DS version of Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, which WB Games sent me for review along with the more traditional Wii version. In particular, I'm not really sure who the game is intended for.

Of course, the DS' small screens and comparatively low resolution do call for a bit of reimagining of any console title; this is to be expected. But what we have in the DS version of Lego Harry Potter barely resembles anything else in the Lego movie franchise; if anything, it feels more like a generic movie tie-in game that had a few series elements stuck on, with Harry and friends manipulating Lego objects that just as easily could have been not.


The characters in the game even talk, which may not immediately strike someone not familiar with the Lego franchise as out-of-place, but it is. A good deal of the charm of the Lego games has been the acting-out of famous scenes from the movies they derive from by Lego characters who emote solely through grunts and facial expressions. The DS version of Lego Harry Potter also includes prerendered video of some of the cutscenes from its console big brother, which makes the way the characters act in-game even more out of place.

In the event that this is not a concern for you, though, you're probably wondering how the underlying game is. Truth is, there's really not a whole lot of game to it. Most of Lego Harry Potter consists of dropping into an area, seeing the items marked with a green outline (which you can cast a spell on), doing so, and moving on. There's so very little challenge that it seems like it's something a really young kid just of reading age could enjoy, but—as a parent myself—I question whether a kid that age would have any appreciation for the Harry Potter franchise to begin with. The books and movies are simply at a level much higher than the game ever begins to demand.

I'm just not really sure who the DS version of Lego Harry Potter is meant for. It's not going to appeal to fans of the Lego movie franchise; it's way below the level of Harry Potter fans; and anyone not in either group who manages to pick up the game anyway is simply going to find the whole experience a bit bizarre. Lego movie games on the DS have clearly fallen a long way from the good fun of The Complete Saga. I recommend heading straight for the console versions instead if you want to get your fix in (my review of the Wii version is coming soon)—but give this game a pass.