The gaming world is no stranger to Traveler’s Tales’ line of Lego games, bringing our favorite movies and franchises to life, specifically in brick form, since the release 2005’s Lego Star Wars. Has it really been that long? Great, this has made me feel really old now! There have been plenty of games in the Lego series for the Nintendo Switch over the past year and a half. It makes perfect sense since the demographic for Nintendo systems has typically scaled a little young and the fact that the Switch comes with two controllers built-in makes it the perfect system to co-op on. How does this latest Lego iteration stack up to the competition?
While some gamers may grow tired of the Lego games mostly repeating themselves gameplay-wise from title to title, the series has endured this long for a reason. Not only does each installment provide a surprising amount of content for your buck (and we’re talking real offline single player content), but also the story modes are funny and charming to boot. Lego Harry Potter Collection for Switch is a port of the 2016 re-release of Lego Harry Potter 1 & 2, which was originally a PlayStation 4 exclusive. The two games originally saw separate releases on consoles back in 2010 and 2011 (on Wii and 3DS) to promote the final two movies in the film series. Between the two games you control the titular boy wizard as you play through the events of the original seven books and it’s a great way for newer audiences to quickly familiarize themselves with the plot. While it has been several years since the originally story concluded both on screen and in writing, the fandom lives on to this day through merchandising, online communities, and spin-off movies, the latest of which comes to theaters this month, making the timing for this release absolutely perfect.
For those unfamiliar with the Traveler’s Tales Lego games, they are 3D adventure titles where you control a party of two or more Lego characters. As you play through each chapter of the story you utilize each character’s unique abilities to solve puzzles and traverse platforming segments. Along the way you have a plethora of collectables and Easter eggs to find as you make your way through the world. While those familiar with previous Lego titles should have no problem adapting to the gameplay mechanics, the puzzles and stages are accessible enough for even the most novice of novices.
However, there are a few notable tweaks to gameplay this time around. Specifically, direct combat and attacking is dialed back significantly in favor of indirect combat and spell-based puzzle solving, which makes sense given the source material. This certainly doesn’t hurt the game and in fact adds a great deal of variety, whereas combat in past Lego games hadn’t exactly been known for its complexity. Once each chapter has been played through once to completion, a “free play mode” is unlocked inviting players to go back through the level, this time with a full arsenal and assortment of characters and abilities in order to reach previously blocked off areas and secrets. Each stage has a lot to offer beyond the initial play through, and you might be surprised just how much footwork it takes to reach 100% completion. Now multiply that by the seven books worth of content spread over two games, and you’re guaranteed to stay busy for a long time.
Both games in the collection are upscaled to full 1080p HD and they run beautifully docked as well as in handheld mode. They also have a drop in and out cooperative play mode, which has become standard for the series and is a really nice complement to the Switch’s two Joy-Cons packaged in with the system. The game is just as comfortable and easy to handle whether you are gaming on the pro controller or you’re rocking a joy-con on its side. It would have been great to see the inclusion of the motion controls that were a prominent part of the Wii games since the Joy-Con controllers do support motion. Considering this game is technically a port of a PS4 title, it’s probably a lot harder than it sounds to actually make that happen, but it really would’ve really put the game over the edge for me as a must-have Switch title.
TT has always been incredible about presentation and Lego Harry Potter Collection is no exception. You can tell a great deal of love went into the audio and visuals here. You’ll experience everything from the open-world Hogwarts School to the hilarious cutscenes that feature no traditional dialog in favor of Banjo-Kazooie style grunts and slapstick sound effects. At first, I wasn’t so sure a complex story like Harry Potter could be told this way, but visual storytelling elements do get the job done. Although if you don’t have at least base knowledge of what Harry Potter is, you may have a harder time following along. Despite everything being constructed from Lego bricks, the recreations of set pieces from the films are absolutely beautiful and the way the lore and history of the Harry Potter universe is woven into each stage is nothing short of impressive. The classic score from John Williams is prominently featured and definitely makes for a huge plus. Fans of the series will find a lot to appreciate from this title. It has been a long time since we’ve seen a solid Harry Potter video game and players will no doubt find this collection to be a great addition to their own collections at home.
Lego Harry Potter Collection Review
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Lego Harry Potter Collection offers Switch owners a fantastic and fun thrill ride through the Harry Potter universe. While not as expansive as newer Lego games, this 2010 throwback holds up incredibly well and is still bursting with the charm that put Harry Potter and Lego games on the map in the first place.
Evan Roode is a full time journalism student and amateur game historian. His favorite song from Guitar Hero III was “Even Flow”.