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Warner Home Video presents
"Oh, you'd better put some ice on that."
DVD ReviewAs a companion piece to the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Warner Home Video and Warner Interactive are releasing a DVD player game that allows one or more to assume the roles of students of Hogwarts School of Wizardry, attending classes and playing quidditch through the use of the remote control.
The opening is fairly promising, with the Sorting Hat placing the player in a particular house, or you can choose your own. There are single player and multi-player modes, with easy, medium and hard levels. In multi-player mode, each player can have a different difficulty level, which is a nice feature for players of different skill levels. Jim Dale, who did a superb job reading the Harry Potter audiobooks, serves as the narrator on your journey through your first three years at the school.
In each year, there are options for attending classes, or performing extracurricular activities. Successful completion of these tasks earns your house points, and chance episodes can add or deduct additional points. The chance episodes feature clips from the first three Harry Potter films, with amusing bits that either show your progress or document your failures. Classes include such standards as charms, potions, transfiguration and wand use, and the challenges posed range from absurdly easy to absurdly difficult. The latter tend to be a problem, since the game will not proceed until you succeed at them, resulting in a good deal of repetitiveness. I ended up repeatedly at a dead end where no matter what I did I put myself in the hospital, even on the easy levels. This makes the game something of an exercise in frustration. I assume that there's a trick to it but I never figured out the trick and eventually I got bored with doing the same tasks over and over. There are few enough classes in the first year at least that variety and replay value are fairly low. Those with more skill at such games might well fare better, but a DVD remote is not by any means as responsive as a game controller.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: The game video is decent quality, though a bit soft at times. Colors are nice and bright for the most part. The task that requires you to pick out various objects on screen is often difficult to see, making the challenge harder than it might be otherwise. The movie clips are panned and scanned.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is generally satisfactory, though the instructions during the potion class annoyingly have the music mixed loud over them so it's quite difficult to make out what you're supposed to be doing. Dale's voice comes across fine otherwise, however.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chill Out Scooby-Doo!
Extras Review: The disc does have a couple trailers, including the Order of the Phoenix trailer missing from that movie's disc (though it's presented in nonanamorphic widescreen here). There's also an advertisement for the new Scooby-Doo direct-to-video opus.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsIt's a decent concept, but replay value feels low due to repetitiveness, and less skillful players may get frustrated at the difficulty of some of the tasks.
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