At a Glance: I had never received a package made out of owl feathers until the day this Rom arrived on my doorstep. Covered with caution signs and magical hexes, I knew as I opened it up with my pewter Excalibur letter opener that this was going to be a treat. What lay inside was what I could only assume was some kind of unholy rom hack created by a digital necromancer that was really excited someone was going to finally be writing a book about a boy that uses magic. After scooting aside my Books of Magic graphic novels to get to my rom machine, I cracked open this golden egg of a game to show you readers its magic yolk.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here)
Download: Download ROM here
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Story: Someone's crystal ball must have had a crack in it because the basic story of Harry Potter starts out similar to the books but quickly goes into its own bizarre parallel universe. I haven't read the first book in a bit but I don't really remember Harry beating the crap out of his cousin, his uncle, then Professor Quirrel/Voldemort in the first chapter before he even gets to the deserted island.
Brilliant mistakes come out of the plotline like fireworks and spit out some amazing sentences and horrible inconsistencies with the source material. And these aren't "that's not how he should look" kind of problems that you hear about regarding photoshopped set pictures, this is like sitting down to an adaptation of "Oklahoma!" to find out they added a Nazi subtext and a homosexual android sidekick. Being able to kick the crap out of all the passengers on the Hogwarts Express gets a giggle out of me but probably not any hardcore Harry Potter fans. Harry Potter would be the kind of wizard that wears a nose ring and has "WIZ4LIFE" written across his knuckles if the book was written of what happens in this game. Once again, I have to ask: Would this make the first book worse or better?
I'm disappointed that the story halts right when Harry gets to Hogwarts, school for magical duders. There were so many more scenes in the book that I'd love to see smashed into 8 bits with a hammer. How would a quidditch match work on the NES? What kind of awkward English could I have come across if I could continue on? This game is a work in progress but with a little spit and polish that game could have easily made it to very bottom of everyone's NES pile and the very top of every fanatic's conversations with JK Rowling.
Gameplay: It isn't some kind of black magic that keeps you from continuing past the school, it's the game throwing you in a pit guarded by a ghost, a bouncing ball, and a grandma. Since Harry is essentially in high school I did what any self-respecting freshman would do: giving up after helplessly flailing against the wall for five minutes.
One major drawback in this game is the extreme lack of anything wizardly. Punches and kicks are not the typical tools of the magician but Harry knows no other tools to get the job done. And it's not even Harry. Jason Mewes/Draco Malfoy and Professor Quirrel seem to prefer ordinary invitations to boot parties instead of charms or fireballs. In fact, the most magical thing that happens to Harry is his eating of a whole lobster and being chased by magical fire in what appear to be mines. This is before getting completely creamed by a grandma indigenous to these exact caves.
Is it strange that a grandma can do a better job of defeating you than a manifestation of Voldemort? I haven't read the latest book, does this often happen to wizards?
Graphics: Anime meets Harry Potter meets NES. I'm honestly glad someone finally decided to combine these themes and bring them into the world. Honest.
Enemies: Voldemort is nothing compared to the threats you face within your own home, like your fat uncle. But don't get the wrong impression, dear reader, this game is not just a more interesting story about family abuse. The entire animal kingdom displays its intense vendetta for you by sending octopi, lame fish, bats, rats, and even snakes after you for your precious sorcerer blood. Inclusion of snakes is just another clue that the people who made this game probably gathered their information from an internet book review from highteenietimes.com.
At the end of each level you end up going toe to toe with Quirrel/Voldemort, who you just plain old gangbeat to the ground. This is not just a duel between two wizards, this is watching a ten year old break a man down to his smallest molecule by kicking him in the face until he gives up.
Fun: On a scale from muggle to Death Eater, this entire game was more fun than reading five pages about what Harry ate for dinner.
Defining Moment: Although this game is Harry Potter like apples are to corkscrews, finally being able to dropkick that fatty cousin in the face makes my day.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).