Wikipedia claims that there are actually five different games based on this one book and movie, on eight different systems, and I don't see any reason to doubt it or actually bother to do any further research beyond that. Someone asked me to play the GBC version and that's just what I'm going to do.
Actually it just says 'Harry Potter GBC' in my notes so I suppose it's possible I was asked to play the game based on the second book (the last GBC game ever released in North America, random trivia fans!) But I've already made this cool animated title screen image so I'm committed now.
Sure it's entirely vague about the details, the text has a bit of a lean to it, and the paper looks like a wizard wiped his ass with it... then accidentally set it on fire, but if anything that just makes it even more plausible.
Okay, I imagine that the first puzzle in the game will be to figure out where the school is and when the term starts.
I'm honestly not sure whether I've seen the film or not, but I definitely get the feeling there was more to this story between these two events. It was something to do with owls... I definitely remember owls.
They also seem to have forgotten to establish that Harry grew up in regular mundane modern day London and was raised by cruel aunt and uncle after his parents were killed by an evil wizard while he was a baby. Definitely a sign that the developers were more interested in just letting players play through events from the plot than they were in making a game that stands on its own as an adaptation of the story.
Wasn't there supposed to be a line here that the wand that suits him best is the same type as the wand used by the guy who killed his parents? I don't know, maybe I'm just making up my own film in my head based on random clips I've seen.
It's just occurred to me that there's something not quite right about this image. The developers have used some sorcery to squeeze way more colours out of the humble GBC than I'm used to seeing from the system.
Before I could even take two steps out of the wand shop, a kid approached me and practically shoved a deck of magic cards into my hands. He was even considerate enough to ask me what deck I wanted to take from him!
He wasn't being purely altruistic, he's after the wiz-cred of helping out the famous Harry Potter, but still it was pretty nice of him.
I think... I think I can make out a hat at least.
WAVY FIGHT TRANSITION EFFECT!
Final Fantasy type of RPG! The blue cloud was a roaming enemy encounter with a rat and walking into it brought me to this fight.
It's purely turn based combat with no timers. On my go I get to pick from 'Spell' to cast a wand spell, 'Card' to cast a card spell, 'Item' to cast an item spell... or whatever, you get the idea of how it works. Annoyingly all it tells me about my spells is that one of them costs 2 MP, but judging from the spell effects I figure that Flipendo is wind magic, Vermillious must be fire magic, and 'Uno' means that they're both level 1 spells.
I've long stopped wondering why rats have money and food on them in RPGs, but in at least in this game there's a fair chance that a wizard really did do it. In fact I think I'll go zap a few more while I'm here, now that I know I'm being rewarded for it.
How cruel is that? Giving me a grid of cards to collect, but then making it so that using any of them destroys them. Sure there's probably more than one of each card to collect, but then I have to keep track of which spells would be using duplicates.
But I'm going to go do something about that. Hagrid's still waiting in the bank for me to meet him, but I've got the whole run of Diagon Alley right now so first I'm going shopping with my rat money.
On the other hand that pack of name tags is pretty tempting. Just imagine what kind of arcane power those things could have! Maybe I could use them like Poké balls, throwing them at enemy monsters to claim them as my own! Or perhaps I could write different names onto them and magically change my identity depending on which one I'm wearing.
Or maybe they're just regular name tags with absolutely no purpose at all besides letting people know who my pencil case belongs to. The shop isn't telling.
It's nice to know that these things actually do something, even if they'll also slow me down. I guess wizards aren't really known for their athleticism. Shame the shop screen couldn't have even hinted at some of this info though. A single line of descriptive text would've been a start! Or even just a little arrow pointing up if it's an upgrade.
You'd think they could have at least coloured in the sections I'd upgraded though, even if it's just a flat colour to show what level of clothing I've got in that slot. You know, like a red hat would give me +2 defence, but an orange hat would give me +3 etc.
Oh crap now I want to colour the thing in.
10 MINUTES LATER.
Oh shit I just noticed that shopkeeper's face looking down on me from above. That's another one for my NPC portrait collection:
Or maybe it's just not very good art. I guess it is kind of a stretch to presume that the game's trying to be deliberately unnerving at this point.
Back away Harry. Slowly back away and begin stepping towards the door. Do not make any sudden moves. Don't whatever you do let them see your fear.
Okay forget owls then, I'm going to go beat on rats until I've killed enough for a new robe. I mean buy a new robe with the money, not literally make a robe out of rats, that'd be ridiculous. Can you imagine how many fights I'd have to win to get enough rat pelts to make a full robe out of?
Then two seconds later Harry tripped over and Hagrid walked off without him. So now I'm alone, fighting rats again, in a maze. Would it have been so bad to just let him join my party?
This guy blocking the path in front looks like he's going to be more of a threat though. That's one big-ass sparkly blue cloud in my way. How did Hagrid not notice any of this?
I can take out a small rat in two turns, I'm having a bit of a problem here though as they're hitting me for 9s and 11s each round and I forgot to buy any healing items. I still don't even know if there are healing items in this!
But this worked out great as now I've found out that if I ever lose a fight I just reappear at the nearest healer with all my acquired experience intact. I didn't even lose half my money. Though I do have to walk all the way back now.
Fortunately the fight went much better second time around because of sheer luck. The giant rat kept missing me so all I did was spam the same attack over and over to win.
After I finish with my shopping Hagrid tells me to go off to King's Cross Station and find platform 9 3/4 to get on board the Hogwarts Express. I think I remember Harry having to walk through a fake wall to get there in the film, so I'm expecting that they're going to make this next map extra frustrating to navigate.
SOME TIME LATER.
I started at the bottom and went up, and that was it. I suppose I'll just get onto the train and leave then shall I?
Well I've spent long enough with the game now to have a good idea of how it plays, but I haven't been anywhere or done much of anything yet. I can't turn it off before I even get to Hogwarts!
When Harry surprised him by not being a total pushover, the attempted robbery actually escalated into actual combat. So I shot the obnoxious little git with whirlwinds until he went away. Malfoy, that's his name, I remember now.
And then we finally arrived at the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
And then we finally arrived at the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Well, after another underground dungeon maze, with Harry getting left behind by Hagrid again. Harry didn't even trip this time, he just deliberately waited at the entrance to give the other students a head start!
Sadly those toy capsule machines on the right are actually some kind of device to measure how many points each of the four school houses have earned this year. Handy if I want to see if the teaching staff like Gryffindor more than Slytherin, less handy if I want to get myself a little Virtua Fighter 2 figure.
This is another classic scene from the movie and book, where Harry sits down and puts a talking hat on his head. I'm sure the film added some drama and suspense to it but in this it's treated as matter of fact as possible. It basically (but not literally) plays out like this:
I hope they put us in the same house, and NOT Slytherin.
Not Slytherin, not Slytherin...
Fine, whatever. Go eat.
They sit down at a table together, chat a bit, enjoy their meal, and then are sent off to find their houses.
Well it turns out that when Dumbledore told me in the dinner hall earlier that I'd have to find my house, he really meant it. I've got free reign to wander around the whole school, but no one will tell me where my room is. Every floor in this place is roughly the same shape as the entrance hall, with classrooms around the outside, and it seems like there's no end to them. The floors just keep going up and up.
The answer is, of course, that there's a card everywhere. Each and every room in this place seems to have a card or two in it, and they're too useful to ignore. But they're also hidden secrets, without so much as a sparkle to reveal their presence.
I like secrets in games, I think they can add depth and replay value and reward players for straying outside of the obvious path. But designers need to be careful about what they're encouraging players to do. Doom for instance likes to hide some secrets behind mismatched wall textures, so observant players get a reward. Super Mario Bros. on the other hand occasionally hides secrets inside of pipes, so it's encouraging players to duck down on every pipe they see just in case; it's not really the kind of behaviour that makes a game more fun, but it's not a big deal.
Harry Potter 1 rewards players for walking up to every wall, desk, toilet and dumb looking statue and pressing 'A' on it, so this becomes normal gameplay. The game has become about examining toilets systematically on each and every floor of a school building.
All the NPCs here have been as useless as ever by the way. I've been asking them all where Gryffindor house is and all I've been getting back are lines like "higher up than this", "sorry not my house" and "it could be anywhere".
I actually did find a secret set of stairs to take me up a few floors, but now I've totally lost track of what floor I'm on and where I've been.
Basically I'm stuck in a loop where I'm only gaining 2-3 SP a round, but if I don't heal then I'll be KO'd in three turns. I guess I could use my cards, but that'd mean using my cards! I didn't search all those toilets just to burn them off in a pointless rat battle.
This would be a really great time for the game to give me a full party of characters already. Ron could throw me healing doughnuts while Hermione casts fireaga on them.
Such a little problem but it gets just that tiny bit more frustrating each and every time I have to do it.
LATER, ON THE FIFTH FLOOR HALLWAY.
SOON, ON THE SEVENTH FLOOR.
I'm going to go find Dumbledore or someone else in charge and tell them that I'm out of here. I quit. The staff completely neglected to tell me where my room was and that I'd need a password to get inside and no one else here seems to have any idea what's going on either. I'm far too rich to put up with this bullshit.
By the way I'm not skipping past the gameplay here, this is really is all I've been doing lately.
LATER, BACK DOWN AT THE ENTRANCE HALL.
Didn't take me all that long to get back down. I found a shortcut to the the basement dungeon and got here that way. Getting back up might take a little longer though, I can't remember which shortcuts go where.
I don't know what happens next in the book, but I'm really hoping it starts off with a long journey across the overworld with a team of no less than three characters and involves lots of, I dunno... gameplay.
It almost looks like it crept in here from an old ZX Spectrum game or something.
Is this really what the game becomes after you reach Hogwarts?
"Your friend Mr. Longbottom seems to have hurt himself. I'll let you gather the potion ingredients to heal him, Potter. I will deduct house points for slowness."
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Game Boy Color edition) seems less like an adaptation in its own right, and more like a way for kids to play through the highlights of the new blockbuster movie. There's enough of the story here to follow what's going on, but not quite enough to care. I've played worse licensed tie-ins on the Game Boy Color, but that's more a harsh criticism of the nature of licensed games in general rather than praise of this one.
Something that I've noticed this year after playing games like Saturday Morning RPG and Evoland, is that the Final Fantasy combat system works far better when you've got a few people in your team and you're given reason to try different tactics.
Saturday Morning RPG stuck me with just one character, so like in this I only got to make one decision each turn, but it gave me an arsenal of flashy limited use special effect super attacks so at least I had some options to choose from. I guess they weren't all that different from the card spells in Harry Potter, but they were replenished between fights, making them a viable move in every single encounter instead of being super weapons I'd hoard and never use.
Evoland was kind enough to give me two characters for the most part, but one was the fighter and one was the healer and that's all they ever did. Harry Potter isn't quite that bad, but I felt like most of my fights were spent spamming one or two of my spells as fast I could, as wasting a turn to use a healing item was often pointless. No choice, no gameplay, no fun.
But at least Harry Potter gives you interesting things to do outside of combat, like buying items from a shopping list, searching every object in a school for cards, and continually asking NPCs where a room is. I even saw Ron and Hermione once or twice! Granted I'm not exactly a Harry Potter fan and the game's really meant for people with an interest and familiarity with franchise, but this doesn't seem like it'd be much fun for anyone.