19 years later... We look back at the journey of Harry Potter in gaming since the release of Philosopher's Stone in 2001.
Nineteen years ago, aspiring witches and wizards up and down the world were gifted to the second ever game where they could operate as a brown-haired bespectacled boy and wander a mystical castle filled with the deepest and darkest secrets. Oh, and some chocolate frogs.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone launched on November 15, 2001, on GameBoy Colour, GameBoy Advance, PlayStation 1, and Windows XP. The game adaptation came just eleven days after its film adaptation was created. Looking back at the likes of Pixelated Hagrid, the difference between the first title and the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy title set to release in 2021 is completely riddikulus and a credit to the revolution of gaming.
Back in 2001, the world marvelled in the footsteps of the chosen one who went in search of Nicholas Flamel's Philosophers Stone before Voldemort could get his hands on it through the body of Professor Quirrel. Developed by a range of bodies such as Griptonite Games and Argonaut Games, the game allowed players to learn the spells and fend off creatures, but was met by mixed reviews.
Reviewers such as IGN branded the game "the digital equivalent of a Ron Weasley hand-me-down", which to the mere muggles is a bit nonchalant, but to the pure-bloods, this was a blow below the belt. With ratings of around 6 and 7/10 across most publications at the time, the illustrations became under heavy fire, even though the graphics of alike games had yet to reach convincing heights.
Over the years, Harry Potter games have not been able to take off as quickly as a Nimbus 2001. Whilst other titles were catching the Golden Snitch equivalent in gaming, the Harry Potter franchise was stuck on its Comet Two Ninety broom with Bludgers crashing into them at every corner. No Harry Potter game was able to consistently score more than 7/10 in the ratings across multiple publications, even as the graphics began to develop.
Surprisingly, it was the Lego versions of the games that revived the Harry Potter series on consoles. Years 1-4 were released in 2010 and boasted the same level of visuals than the actual games. With an emphasis on puzzle-solving typical of Lego's depictions, the games were applauded for allowing most corners of the magical universe to be uncovered. It's succeeded title, years 5-7, was equally praised, although it was worrisome that the Lego versions attracted more fans than the single-player action-adventure instalments. Very Bellatrix Lestrange indeed.
The world of Harry Potter was in sirius need of a game that would make fans a(dumble)dore the series in a new way again. Going into 2021, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy is set to arrive as an open-world RPG, hoping to lumos the light inside the Harry Potter fandom. From first appearances, the game looks to be everything that a Potterhead needs and more.
With graphics finally worthy of the 21st century, the RPG will likely divulge more of the universe than most have ever attempted to learn about. Coming across beasts of the Forbidden Forest and learning the dark secrets of Hogwarts, the game is set to tell a new story before the time of Harry Potter and co.
After 19 years of waiting, a fitting number for the franchise (if you know, you know), we might finally have a Harry Potter game that is deserving of its films. Let's hope that Hogwarts Legacy will be one for the fans to Lovegood, otherwise, there will be fans causing for the developers to be reprimanded, or worse, expelled.