A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this iPhone/iPad app of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1–4 is a different game than the version sold on game consoles. The animated cinematic sequences are the same as those used in the console game, but the actual levels and missions played through here are totally different. As in the original game, all the action is depicted with little Lego-block versions of the Harry Potter characters. This cuts down on the impact of the violence. While there is plenty of fighting and action in here, there is far more exploration and puzzle solving. This is a brainier LEGO adventure. Although, you can zap hexes at other characters -- which will basically play pranks on them, like give them a giant head -- just for fun.
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Is it any good?
If you've played any of the LEGO video games on a console system, you'd never think that an experience so deep and detailed could be replicated in a mobile app -- but then LEGO HARRY POTTER: YEARS 1–4 comes along to change your opinion. The developers have created a wholly original game (different from the LEGO Harry Potter console game) that offers scores of intricate levels, witty storytelling, and over 100 playable characters. Plus you can customize your own LEGO hero to use. Your wizarding characters can cast multiple spells with different finger movements, all of which can be pulled off quite easily. Some mini-games have been tossed in to give even more depth, like a gear-spinning challenge when you want a Gringott's goblin to open a gate. And just like in the console LEGO games, there are oodles of hidden goodies, many of which require a specific type of character to uncover -- a neat trick that makes you eager to replay early levels once you've unlocked more characters. It's hard to believe you can get this much for five bucks.
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