LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 iPhone Review

Gamers interested in getting the most bang for their buck should download LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, which is currently available across all Apple devices for just $4.99. Warner Bros. did a wonderful job bringing the DS/PSP version to the App Store without sacrificing content, controls or graphics. The result is a light-hearted and fun adventure that'll have you casting spells and searching for hidden items for hours.

As the title implies, LEGO Harry Potter follows the boy wizard's first four adventures, allowing you to experience famous scenes from the books/films as Harry, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and plenty of other characters (over 100). This also means wandering around popular locations like Hogwarts castle, the Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley, all of which overflow with detail. You'll even take part in such events as the Triwizard Tournament and Quidditch World Cup.

The game follows a similar formula as previous Lego efforts, where you go on quests to complete various objects and collect items. The trick is finding the right character for the job, as they possess signature abilities that prove invaluable; Hagrid, for instance, can push heavy objects. Thankfully, you can switch between them on the fly.

On top of that, everything's made from LEGO bricks, which gives the game a charming appearance. It's just cool to see the world of Harry Potter displayed in this style, and we got a kick out of learning different spells to interact with the world. Reparo, for example, lets you piece things back together, while the famous Wingardium Leviosa helps you levitate objects. And, during combat, you can hit enemies with Reducto. You'll learn more over time, and casting them is as easy as performing flicks, circles and other movements across the screen.

That said, controls take some getting used to, particularly with moving around. Instead of creating a virtual d-pad and buttons, the designers force you to explore by dragging a finger on the screen or pointing to a specific area and watching Harry and co. walk to that location. It's a bit tough to get the hang of, especially when characters get stuck on doors and the edges of different objects, but eventually, it becomes second nature and in no way hinders your progress. Just fight through the learning curve.

Meanwhile, the game has tons of personality. This is especially true in the full motion cut scenes that were pulled from the console editions, where the developers flesh out the stories while adding plenty of humor to spice things up. In addition, various pieces of music from the movie soundtracks play in the background. Excellent stuff.

The only thing that bugs us is the resolution of the aforementioned cut scenes. They look noticeably worse on the iPad.

Aside from that small complaint and the learning curve, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is a wonderful game well worth the money. Let's hope this leads to more quality LEGO games in the future. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, we're looking at you.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod Touch (3rd generation), iPod Touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.

What's Hot: Over 100 characters, cool locations from the books/films, tons of secret items and places to discover, authentic Harry Potter music, only $4.99.

What's Not: Low resolution cut scenes, controls take some getting used to.

4/5