Game review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Welcome to Hogwarts

I thought I should start this review by telling you why I played this game. I had about a week before a different game that I wanted to play, Atelier Sophie, arrived at my house. So I had nothing to do. And then this movie came on TV. It was called Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (big surprise). Then I took a look at old Gamecube games and spotted it. I remembered playing it as a child and loving it. So I thought, “Why not play a nostalgic game while waiting for Sophie?”

Here’s a tip: Don’t do what I did. Chances are, you may come to think that that game is terrible if you have modern standards (like me) and ruin your perfectly happy memories.

So, I’ll work from the bad to the good in this review. If anyone reading this has fond memories of this game, I’ll warn you like I wish I had warned past me: this will not be pretty.

Not that way, Harry! Harry- don’t- argggh

First off, and the absolute worst thing about this game; its controls. The assigning of spells and interface didn’t really bother me, and I can let the automatic jumping slide, but what really steamed my buns was the camera.

You can control it using the C-stick, but it’s inverse. You can change the inverse to normal from the options, but every time you load it defaults back. So I switched to using the L-button, which is used to lock-on to things. It’s convenient because it focuses the camera behind Harry.

But wait: it gets worse. This game is SUPER fond of having you jump from place to place and sneak past people. And during these times, the camera turns… on it’s own accord. This camera is super scared of being behind a wall when you’re jumping from place to place, it will show Harry’s front no matter how many times to press the L-button. And it’s auto-adjusting so when you’re off to a running start, the camera will change and more often than not, you will fall.

When you’re sneaking around, the camera is a lot higher so that you can see the prefects or whatever you need to get past. That’s convenient, except for the fact that you can only use the C-stick during these times. When I’m running around, throwing down Stink Pellets or Non-Explodable Luminous Balloons, I find that I have no time to move my right thumb to change the camera angle and see what’s going on.

But hey, there’s a plus to this; at least the camera angle is good while flying, right?

Where am I…? Who am I…?

Also, just thought I’d mention; the map is grossly under-detailed and hard to navigate, but it helped during the sneaking sections.

At the beginning of the game, someone told you what to do literally every minute. But shortly after that, you were given nothing. No hints. I was so lost. Thus, this game made me feel stupid in more ways than one.

Quit & ditch

I hated Quidditch in this game. You flew through enough rings before you could get into super-uncontrollable mode to try and get some tiny snitch all while being bombarded by random people and trying to beat the other team. And then you have to spam A or something to “grab” the snitch (I couldn’t figure out the dumb pattern of the thing).

Seeing as the Hogwarts school year is apparently only a week, you only had to fight each house once, which was nice. What was even nicer was that I handed the controller over to someone else for these games. If I had played these confusingly simple Quidditch matches I probably would have thrown my controller out the window. So you know what I say? Quit & ditch.

Flipendo! Skurge! Lumos! Anything!!

Two of the things in this game that I wish I could have learned some spell to defeat were the prefects and the turtle-crap… things. I spent such a long time trying to figure strategies to get past the not-so-dumb prefects, to the point where I just wished to Flipendo them into the wall. This game is only all too fond of sneaking around, which caused me to be very fond of chucking controllers out the window. Good riddance.

Now, I could never figure out a way to flip those turtle-crab things before they sprayed fire at me. And of course I lost all my beans and could never pick them up before their ridiculously-short de-spawn time came. If you ever went to the library and read the books there (I’m sure not many people did, I certainly didn’t as a kid) three important facts came up: 1) they are crabs (prior to this, I was calling them “dumb tortoises”), 2) they cannot be killed (at most they can be flipped over), and 3), the most disturbing and disgusting of all; where they shoot their fire from <<their rear end>>. After that, no amount of Pumpkin Pastries or Cauldron Cakes could cleanse the dirtiness I felt every time I was hit by those things *shivers*.

Moving on…

Identity crisis

I still have no idea what this game was trying to be. A platformer? They certainly had a lot of jumping from place-to-place segments. But that, like a lot of things in this game, was broken. Maybe this wanted to be a horror game? I know every time I had to sneak past prefects I got really scared. How about an RPG? You did battle things… I guess. And you are taking the role of Harry Potter. But, how about shooter? It wasn’t first-person, like a lot of bang bang ratatata’s are, but all of your spells were long-distance. And the game had aim-assist and it seemed to target people more than anything else.

And about half-way through this game, I starting wondering if this game was meant to be played while reading the book or watching the movie. Because it doesn’t really explain anything itself. For example: after a few days of classes Hermione suddenly comes up to you and tells you to go into the restricted section to find out more of the Chamber of Secrets. And I burst out laughing because the Chamber of Secrets wasn’t talked about before, so it seemed like Hermione plucked those words out of mid-air. And it never explained anything that happened after it either.

So, I don’t think I’ll ever know what this game wanted to be, especially since it ended way too quickly for me to figure it out.

I swear the gnomes are grumbling “EA Games”

Everyday Neville had minigames for you to play because he’s addicted to Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean or something and decided to use his teleporting ability to get his fix. If you beat the high score/beat the person, you get a Famous Witches and Wizard card. There was Gnome Dunking, Gnome Tossing, and Racing. I was fine with all of them but the Gnome Tossing. I could never get the timing right and all I wanted to do was throw my controller out of the window. But somehow, somehow, I eventually got it.

“I must be miles beneath the school” I thought you were English, Harry, not American

The final dungeon was a huge disappointment. After going through dungeons in classes and learning all these spells (btw, those teachers are freaking abusive omg), I was expecting a dungeon that put all of them to use, but I just go a boss fight where I didn’t even use any magic. Biggest disappointment of this game. And the boss wasn’t that hard… at least in my opinion. About the hardest thing was figuring out the controls, as usual.

Look at that tiny ray of sunshine in the horizon

You know, I’ve been saying a lot of bad things, but this game isn’t all that bad. I think for the most part I learned a valuable lesson; don’t judge a game by it’s title. Just because it says it’s Harry Potter, it doesn’t mean that it is. Not really. Plus, this game brought me into the Harry Potter franchise. I’m probably going to read all the books. And maybe I’ll even play the next game. Also, the soundtrack was good in this game.

I was trying to 100% this game, so that meant collecting all the 101 Famous Witches and Wizard’s cards. To get the last one, you had to talk to Dumbledore to get it. And the last one was this:

Harry Potter card
It was a really neat touch, because I can’t count the number of times I wanted to rage-quit this game. All the times I thought it wasn’t worth it. But this card made it feel worth it. It gave me the recognition I wanted. It made me feel like all my pain in completing this game was worth it. And that, I think, is wicked.

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