Harry Potter: Spells Review

Most kids probably went through the phase of wanting to be a wizard of some kind. Whether they read The Hobbit, watched Sword and the Stone, or more recently, grew up with the Harry Potter phenomenon, the ability to cast magical spells with devastating (or just plain cool) effects is something that kick-starts the imagination and can make for lots of fun, even if it’s only imaginary. Now, there’s an app for that.

Harry Potter: Spells is a game only in a limited sense. If you’re playing by yourself, the only use of the app is to train to use the game’s various spells (14 in all). You’re given an introduction to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including a random choosing of your wand and house, and the schooling begins right away. There is not a lot of story, and this should only be considered canon in that it utilizes elements from the series correctly. Don’t expect any new adventure with Potter and friends that alters or adds to the books’ storyline.

Incendio!

That being said, if learning spells by waving your iPhone around like a magical wand sounds cooler than lightsaber duels (a quick-to-fade iPhone fad), then this will surely be right up your alley. The number of spells is not large, but the variety is good. You have both offensive and defensive maneuvers to help battles last longer. Battles against the computer are only useful in that they help you advance, learn new spells, and practice the ones you know.

Ultimately, though, once you’ve mastered them, if you have no human foe to duel against, the game seems pointless. It’s kind of like grinding in an RPG that has no story; after a while, you’re going to tire of it and shelve the game. Sure, you get to visit some of the series’ most recognizable characters and locales, but it’s not immersive in the way adventure games (or the movies and books themselves) are, even with neat features like being able to record your own voice to play back when correctly pulling off a spell.

The sorting hat never makes a mistake.

What you really need is a friend for dueling. Playing against a person in the same room may appear comical to passing strangers (or family and friends), but if you’re a Potter nut, it can be a heck of a lot of fun. It certainly beats the pants off of similar apps that don’t have an interconnected game (like the lightsaber apps). The problem is finding someone as nutty as you are who is willing to make a potentially embarrassing spectacle of themselves. This is probably a game best suited to the confines of your own home.

If you can convince some local buddies to engage in wizardry with you, you can have some rather intense spellcasting sessions. For those who aren’t quite that into “social” gaming of this nature, this is merely a fun but brief diversion.

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