and the Sorcerer's Stone
Review by Skinny Minnie and Mini Minnie
Seven-year-old Mini Minnie first spied shaggy haired, bespectacled
Harry Potter on a collection of hardcover novels nestled between
some Barbies under the Christmas tree. It was love at first sight
(for Mini, not for the poor neglected Barbies). Soon, Mr. and
Mrs. Minnie found themselves enamored of Harry's whimsical world
as well. They all spent their evenings cuddled together, up a
wee bit late they admit, sharing Harry's compelling tales of Muggles
and magic. Consequently, they all spent their days crabby and
Perhaps it is the crabby, sleep-deprived state of mind talking,
but the PC game does little to replicate the depth of the rich,
magical yarn that is woven throughout the Harry Potter series.
The game is mainly a 3D-rendered visual tip of the hat to Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, although it is an entrancing
and vivid graphical presentation nonetheless (see included screenshots).
The game requires some first-person mouse aiming for spellcasting
and some third-person platform jumping and broomstick flying,
all inserted in between the briefest of introductions to the first
book's main characters.
This game does give a nod in the most stripped-down, basic way
to the plot of its namesake bestselling novel. Its first attempt
involves encapsulating the first 112 pages of said novel in a
two-minute parade of ivory and black ink flashcard-like pages
as the game begins. These are supposed to bring the player up
to speed on Harry's whole history and background.
Minnie says, "Read the book or cry."
Mini says, "It was cute! And why can't I be Mini Skinny?
I'm a beanpole too!"
You will bemusedly notice that the mob for magical mayhem is
present and accounted for here, though: From Harry's Headmaster
Albus Dumbledore and Professors Quirrell, Flitwick, and Snape,
and his pals the Weasley brothers and Hermione Granger, to Nearly
Headless Nick, Peeves the Poltergeist, Hagrid, Draco Malfoy, and
You-Know-Who, the gang's all here in brief succession. Mostly,
though, you will be controlling in the third person a lonely Harry
Potter via keyboard cursor keys and a few keyboard commands, with
an occasional mouse swirl thrown in. The mouse is first introduced
in Quirrell's Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and it is used
to aim spells such as "Wingardium Leviosa" and "Flipendo!"
Minnie says, "The kid always sounds like he's saying 'Nintendo!'"
Mini says, "Ma, you have games on the brain! The spells
look cool, and after you get a passing grade in the class you
get to use them to move blocks around, finding hidden doors at
Hogwarts with stars and Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans inside
of them. It's easy. You don't even have to pick which spell is
needed in what areathe game does it for you. Not to mention
that you need the spells in that awesome boss fight against Voldemort
at the end ..."
Minnie says, "How would you know? You were off watching
Cyber Chase on TV after the first two seconds of that boss fight!"
Mini says, "Well, that guy is scary! He throws fire and
green electricity! Harry could get 'electrocued!'"
Oh yes, at Ron Weasley's older brothers' behest, you will be
collecting funky colored jellybeans by steering Harry right into
them. No one else seems to notice these beans, which float about
the castle, except for some playful gnomes who want to steal them
from Harry while simultaneously whittling down his lifebar at
an alarming rate. This lifebar is ingeniously represented onscreen
by a lightning bolt; it's a nice visual tie-in to Harry's forehead
scar from the original story at any rate. (Harry can find and
consume chocolate frogs to build this lifebar back up again, as
well as use his spells to knock the gnomes fanny-over-teakettle,
by the way.) Admittedly, this bean situation is ultimately a second
attempt at offering a plot and it does succeed to amuse at the
very end, when you find out just before the closing credits roll
exactly what the brothers Weasley wanted the beans for ... You
will also be collecting wizard cards, too.
You can view your inventory of said items by hitting the escape
key during gameplay. There are six save slots for starting six
separate passes through the game, and the same save slot will
be overwritten every time you save as you make your way through
the game. You may only save at predesignated checkpoints, each
represented by an open, floating book. If Harry's lifebar depletes
completely, he "faints" and you are plunged back in
time to your last saved checkpoint.
Never was someone so glad to see a checkpoint as after the "moving
platforms of doom" section combining "Nintendo"
spellcasting to trigger the platforms with split-second timed,
third person jumps, over and over and over ...
Mini says, "Oh, silly Mom! The manual mentions a setting
in the options menu for an automatic jump feature."
Minnie says, "What? ... Be quiet!"
Hopefully you are not prone to motion sickness, as what Harry
Potter game would be complete without Harry's flying his Nimbus
2000 broomstick in Quidditch? Quidditch practice, where you can't
"quiddit" until you have passing grades in Quidditch
if you have a mean daughter, consists of steering a flying Harry
through progressively smaller, colored, floating rings in rapid
succession. It is nothing, however, compared to trying to get
the snitch back from that delinquent Draco Malfoy later.
Mr. Minnie says, "How would you know? You were off playing
Maximo after the first two seconds of that flying chase!"
Mini says, "Yeah Ma, Dad did it for me, and even I beat
you at flying practice!"
Minnie says, "What? ... Be quiet, both of you!"
Moving right along, the musical orchestrations are appropriately
uplifting, tense, or soothing, depending upon the area Harry currently
occupies. The proper British vocalizations of the characters are
charming, and it was amusing to finally hear the proper pronunciation
of "Hermione," which each of the Minnie family hitherto
pronounced differently, and wrongly. (No, the Minnies have not
yet seen the movie.) Sound effects were minimal.
This game ran without a hitch on Mini's Windows 98 machine, which
is well above the system requirements. Despite some challenging
areas, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is undoubtedly
a children's game. Adults may be disappointed with its stripped
simplicity compared to the novel's tale, but the game is highly
rated by every kid who is related to or has ever been befriended
by the Minnie family.
Mini says, "If it's such a kids' game, then why'd you burn
the broccoli quiche while you were stuck to my chair during all
of the platform jumping?"
Minnie says, "What do you care? You don't eat quiche anyway!"
The Skinny from Minnie:
The Skinny from Mini:
Release Date: 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links
266 MHZ Pentium II or AMD K6-2
64 MB RAM
4X CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
500 MB free hard drive space
8 MB video card with DirectX 8.0 compatible driver
DirectX 8.0 compatible sound card
Where to Find It
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