Los Angeles area Harry Potter fans have felt snubbed by the Universal Studios theme parks, despite the fact Los Angeles is home to the original studio/park. Though there are two Universal movie-themed parks, only Universal Studios Orlando contains ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,’ an entire section of the Islands of Adventure filled with wizarding wonder and even a ride set in Hogwarts Castle. There is now some consolation for those Harry Potter fans with no plans of travelling to Florida. Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment has released Harry Potter for Kinect for those of us who hate either travelling or humidity.
Harry Potter for Kinect is an Xbox 360 exclusive, meaning there is no Playstation Move version although the Wonderbook: Book of Spells is coming in November. The closest analogy to Harry Potter for Kinect is the Wii’s Raving Rabbids.
Similar to Raving Rabbids, Harry Potter for Kinect uses a central hub for what is essentially a collection of mini-games. The default delivery is allowing players to play through mini-game events in the books and movies and as a variety of characters. You can also have the Kinect scan your face to create your own wizard, but the result can be fairly jarring. As much as I tried to manipulate lights and angles, I couldn’t create something that didn’t look like it was from Clive Barker’s Midian.
The experience begins with either Harry or your character choosing a wand at Ollivanders and then being sorted as a first-year student at Hogwarts. The wand-choosing exercise works by having the player execute wand flicks to try out a variety of wands until one of them acts appropriately. The sorting shows the hat contemplating your place.
Particularly if you create your own character, you can influence the sorting hat by yelling out your preferred house. If you feel weird about yelling at your TV, this game might not be for you. While some mini-games allow you to skip the voice portions, your score will suffer.
Harry Potter for Kinect will then take you through some of the stories from the books. While there are inclusions that didn’t make the movies, the characters are their movie representations. Unfortunately, the original actors didn’t provide voices for the game. The majority of the exercises consist of casting or brewing.