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 game is based on the movie version of the third book in the Harry Potter series, and the themes are darker than in the previous games. When trying to decide between the console and PC versions, know that the console version is harder to play, more intense in its confrontations with magical creatures, and more challenging in its gameplay. Parents of younger children should gauge their ability to handle thee creepy, wraith-like Dementors.
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What's it about?
The three console versions of HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN for Xbox, GameCube, and PlayStation 2 are basically the same, but they differ from the PC game. The console version is more complicated because players control when they switch among the three main characters (Harry, Ron, and Hermione). Players must figure out when each character's unique capabilities should be used. Harry is best at climbing and jumping, Ron's special talents allow him to find hidden things like secret passageways, and Hermione has more spells at her disposal, and she can fit into places the bigger boys can't.
The console version offers extra bonus activities not found in the PC version: Players can participate in Dueling Club, race owls, and fly on a Hippogriff. With the PlayStation 2 version, kids can also unlock six separate games that utilize the Sony's Eye Toy, a video camera that allows kids' images to be placed in the game.
Is it any good?
The console game's tasks are more challenging than those in the PC game, and less obvious in their solutions. The puzzle aspects have multiple steps and the magical creatures are more vicious. In the PC version, you only deal with one kind of creature at a time but in the console games you can have several types of magical creatures causing chaos at the same time. At times, figuring out how to manage the creatures can be baffling and the pace of the game feels intense.
The graphics in the console versions, while good, are not nearly as detailed as those on the PC. Nor do they offer the 360-degree camera views in the PC game. The exciting and intense console version is perfect for the kid who loves Harry Potter, but our teenage testers found the console game frustrating when they spent hours searching for the way out of a room. They enjoyed both but thought the PC version was more fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Harry Potter series and how true this game is to both the book and the movie. Do you like that you have to switch between Harry, Hermione, and Ron to solve puzzles?
How does it feel when you're attacked by several magical creatures at once?
Do you prefer playing this game or reading the book?
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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.