Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this visually-exciting action adventure game is based on the movie and book of the same name. While the themes in J.K. Rowling's sixth book in the Harry Potter series are darker and more mature than those in the earlier books, this video game does not focus that much on those themes. While kids will fight the Death Eaters at the end of the game, those fights don't seem that frightening because they have been practicing dueling with other kids at Hogwarts throughout the game. Kids will see Harry being kissed. And while the video cutscenes at the end of the game show a main character being hit with a magic spell that causes him to go over the edge of the Astronomy Tower, it happens quickly and then the story moves on.
What's it about?
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE is the sixth Harry Potter game produced by Electronic Arts. This time around, Electronic Arts provides kids with the ability to openly explore a beautifully rendered Hogwarts castle and grounds. The retelling of the story of J.K. Rowling's sixth Harry Potter book is shown through video cutscenes that are triggered by the accomplishment of various tasks. As Harry, you will attend class, help others, practice making potions, go to Quidditch practice and play in matches, and practice dueling. The game culminates with your fighting some Death Eaters. Throughout your castle explorations, you will find Crests to collect which unlock new and bonus content, including the ability to duel with a friend.
Is it any good?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a good game for kids and casual gamers who are fans of Harry Potter. Because it is an easy game and relatively short (about 8-10 hours in the story mode), it is not a good fit for video game enthusiasts. Because the story is compacted, it might not make sense to those who have not read the source book or seen the movie on which it is based. It is not as deep as previous games; in this one you will basically be brewing potions, dueling using magic, and flying during Quidditch.
What the game does well is provide realistic animations of all of the actors from the movie – you can even see emotion on the characters' faces. And many of the actors have lent their voice talents to the game including Rupert Grint as Ron and Bonnie Wright as Ginny. The wizard dueling is easier than in earlier games because the controls are more responsive (especially on the Wii) and you can now move Harry while he is casting magic spells. Likewise, the navigation is easier because you always have an option of calling up Nearly Headless Nick (a ghost) to lead you through the castle. We also found that flying on a broomstick had improved from previous games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why all things Harry Potter are so popular?
How can game creators suck you into the game? Is it by presenting an emotionally charged story line? Or do they hook you by presenting fun activities to do. What happened here?
Is this game different from the book? From the movie? In what way?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $29-$50
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: June 30, 2009
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.