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Video Game / Harry Potter

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And so Electronic Arts branches out into magic.

"There was nothing about the starry sky that night to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening. As unsuspecting Muggles slept, a huge motorbike with a giant astride it tumbled down from the darkness. The giant, named Hagrid, left a blanket-wrapped bundle on the doorstep of number four Privet Drive. Nestled in the bundle was a baby... Harry Potter... The Boy Who Lived."
Opening narration of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PC, PS1, and GBA versions)

Warner Bros. didn't stop at turning the Harry Potter books into a series of movies. They also adapted the series to video games, originally via movie tie-in games developed by Electronic Arts.

The earliest Harry Potter games were realized as typical Action-Adventure games with the usual tropes of Inexplicable Treasure Chests, Rewarding Vandalism, Bottomless Pits, Floating Platforms, and so forth. Almost exclusively playing as Harry, you learn spells from the teachers to get through the Malevolent Architecture of Hogwarts and win Boss Battles. Along the way, you collect goodies — mainly Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, and collectible wizard cards — while vaguely drifting through the canon storyline. Rather cartoony animation and cheesy voice acting also figured in.

As the EA Potter games went along, the graphics became more photo-realistic until they reached the point where they started using digital scans of the actors. Hogwarts as well gradually evolved from not particularly looking anything like the castle of the films to being a seamless duplication of it. Some of the actors from the movies, mostly the cheaper ones (though Ralph Fiennes is a notable exception), were eventually brought in to voice their characters for the games. Out of the central trio, Rupert Grint has voiced his character for the games, but Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have not. The format also changed into more of a Wide-Open Sandbox with various Mini Games such as dueling other students, playing Quidditch, and brewing potions. Finally, the Deathly Hallows games (two to go with the two movies) shifted the gameplay into more of a Third-Person Shooter.

After Warners had smashing success developing video games based on some of their other IP in-house (including Lord of the Rings and Batman) throughout the 2010s, they decided to stop licensing. In 2012 and 2013, they released two Augmented Reality games that use the PlayStation 3's Wonderbook peripheral. In 2017, they created a subsidiary called Portkey Games solely dedicated to this franchise. These games are considered non-canon. Its projects include mobile games like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery and an open world RPG called Hogwarts Legacy.

Video games based on Harry Potter:

Tropes that apply to the video games in general:

  • 100% Completion: You can take time to collect all the "wizard cards" and other goodies or not. But you really want to take your time in Prisoner of Azkaban and the PC version of Philosopher's Stone.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Professor Sprout is a redhead in the Game Boy Color games instead of having gray hair. Zig-zagged with Harry; earlier games retained his green eyes from the books, but in later games which use digital scans of the film actors, he has Daniel Radcliffe's blue eyes. His hair is also dark brown rather than black in some games.
  • Airborne Mook: Frequent in the games set in Hogwarts. The dragonfly-like Billywigs, blue and extremely annoying fairies, books that drift out of their bookshelves to bite you, etc.
  • All in a Row: Ron and Hermione trail after Harry in some of the games.
  • Art Evolution: Compare the cartoony look of the early games to the realistic look of the latter games.
  • Attack Reflector: The "Expelliarmus!" spell fulfills this function in the dueling portions in Chamber of Secrets and the games that followed, instead of its canonical role as the disarming spell (and despite still being referred to as such in those instances). Eventually has Protego take its place proper as of the fifth game.
  • Bandit Mook: In the earlier games, gnomes will steal your Bertie Bott's Beans. In the first game, they are gone for good, but in the second game, you can get your beans back by defeating the gnomes which took them.
  • Bonus Stage: The Bean Bonus Room in the second and third PC game. You got to collect tons of Bertie Bott's Every-Flavored Beans under a time limit.
  • Brick Joke: In the first Game Boy Color game, Harry trips on his way into the Gringotts dungeons, separating him from Griphook and Hagrid. In the second game, the same thing happens, and he says "They should make the floors more even in here. I trip every time I visit."
  • Camera Lock-On: Present in the PS2/GameCube/Xbox versions of the first three games.
  • Chaos Architecture: You think the movies were bad about keeping the layout of Hogwarts consistent? Well, the games are worse. The earlier ones went so far as to have different platforms for the same game each include a completely different version of Hogwarts. The fifth game adopts the movie version of Hogwarts, attempting to smooth over the films' Geographic Flexibility. The sixth game reuses the Hogwarts of the fifth game with some areas added and others removed.
  • Deus ex Machina: The games differ on how they adapt the traditional year-end "200 points from Dumbledore for being the main characters" bit. Some of them calculate the scores fairly, and if the last-minute points aren't enough to win the Cup, then you don't win the Cup. Others rig the scores so that Gryffindor is guaranteed to be in last place before Dumbledore steps in, and in first afterward.
  • Gameplay Roulette: So much every character needs to remind you how to play after every cutscene.
  • Genre Shift: The first four games are action adventure games, with the first three leaning more towards adventure and the fourth leaning more towards action. Five and six are wide-open sandboxes, while seven and eight are third-person shooters.
  • Goomba Stomp: In at least the PC versions, the way the game is designed allows you to do this to almost any NPC, although it doesn't affect them and merely makes Harry bounce off their heads. Repeatedly, if you're skilled enough.
  • Healing Potion: Wiggenweld appears in various games, serving as one of these. Like some other potions such as Love Potion, how you make it depends on the game.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Characters, especially the teachers in the earlier games, are always telling Harry which keys to press and so forth. You can't help but think of how completely nonsensical that would be in-universe.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Game Boy Color games, being much more humorous than the others, contain a lot of puns.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Harry and other characters can heal by eating chocolate frogs. In some games, Cauldron Cakes will also give minor healing.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Found in nearly all games set in Hogwarts.
  • Insecurity Camera: The suits of armor fulfill this function in the games. Their vision takes place of a highly visible cone, which is rather wide, buts moves around very slowly, giving ample time to sneak.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: In most of the games from earliest to latest ones. Though in the first two games, at least for the PC, you can climb to the top of the grand staircase and jump off, more often than not killing Harry. This was fixed in the third one.
  • It's Up to You:
    • Ron and Hermione like to essentially say "You handle this, Harry — I'll do something inconsequential".
    • The early games would have Harry (joined by Ron and Hermione in Prisoner of Azkaban) be sent by his teachers into a large, elaborate Zelda-esque dungeon for the sole purpose of testing out a new spell, while the rest of the students sit back and relax in the classroom (although the second and third games do imply that other students get to attempt these challenges at some point).
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Harry and co. in all games, collecting every Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, collector card, etc. that is loose. You can even steal beans from Dumbledore's office or grab a wizard card straight from some unlucky Gryffindor's chest! Taken to extreme with Ron in the third home console game, where he can find false walls as well as extract hidden beans and other valuables from bookcases. The game has several rooms practically lined with bookcases. You do the math.
  • Lip Lock: It's really bad in the earlier games to the point that at times it was pretty clear they animated the mouths without knowing what the dialogue was at all.
  • Magic Skirt: If you cast Levicorpus on a female student, she turns upside down in the air, with her skirt remaining down (up?) to protect her NPC dignity.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Hogwarts already had a degree of this in the books, but it's taken much further in the games. Interestingly, everyone but Harry seems to be able to teleport over the obstacle courses ubiquitous in the earlier games.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Venomous Tentacula.
  • Medium Awareness: Harry's teachers often give him instructions like "Hold down the mouse button to aim the spell" and "Control your broom with the direction keys".
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: There are several references to the Gytrash, which are ghostly dogs with forked tails. The gytrash is a creature in English folklore, though only the Harry Potter games describe it with a forked tail. Could be a Composite Character with the Crup, which is, in the books, described as being "indistinguishable from a Yorkshire Terrier, except for its forked tail".
  • Never Say "Die": In the earlier games Harry only "faints" if he runs out of health (which is itself referred to as his "stamina"). Justified as magic lessons wouldn't be expected to involve mortal danger. Ultimately Downplayed though as terms like "die" and "kill" are used in other situations such as when fighting Voldemort (Die, Potter!) or as part of the narrative ("last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, a Mudblood girl died").
  • New Game Plus: The Sorcerer's Stone game for the Game Boy just starts over at the end of the year. You keep all your stats and wizard cards, sans all your spells if you didn't win the House Cup, meaning that you are stuck using only high level spells. This also applies to the Game Boy Color version of Chamber of Secrets and the GBA version of Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: At least in first two games, when Harry jumps or climbs his grunts are same in every dub.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Fire Crabs are actually gem-encrusted tortoises that shoot flames out of their backsides.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Downplayed with the prefects, Filch and teachers, who can generally see rather well around them. Played straight with the knights' armours, which can only see within a narrow, visible cone of vision.
  • Player Character: You play as Harry, for the most part. In the third and fourth games, you play as Ron or Hermione at some points, but it's still mostly Harry. For the fifth game onward, you're Harry almost all the time and only play as other characters when they had a big action-y scene in the canon. For example, you get to be the Weasley twins when they cause trouble for Umbridge and Dumbledore when he fights Voldemort.
  • Promoted to Playable: Ron and Hermione in the GBA RPG adaptations, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire.
  • Recurring Boss: Peeves, oddly enough, since he wasn't in the films.
  • Reformulated Game: As was common with licensed games of the time coming out on as many systems as possible, each game had different versions tailored to different platforms. The first three games had separate versions for home consolesnote , handheld consolesnote , and PC. Starting with the fourth game they used the same version for consoles and PC while retaining (by necessity, of course) a distinct handheld version.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Played straight in most games, where shattering vases, boxes, shrubs, etc. gave you chocolate frogs, Every Flavor Beans and other goodies.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Giant rats can be encountered in the GBC and PSX games, and even feature as the occasional boss.
  • Save Point: The "save game" books.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Played straight for the first three games where everyone wears Hogwarts robes except at the very beginning, but averted starting with the fourth game where characters wear casual clothes.
  • Sequence Breaking: In the first two PC games, it's possible to do this with some careful jumping. For example, the final puzzle in the "Sneak Up to the Tower" level can be completely bypassed, but at the beginning of the "Sneak Down" level the bridge has still rotated and Filch is crossing back from the other side.
  • Take Your Time: Ron, Hermione, and various other characters are always telling you to hurry or you'll be late for the next class. Of course, you can take forever and you'll still arrive just on time. Inverted in the first PC game at one point: no matter how quickly you go to Potions, Snape always decides you're late.
  • Truer to the Text: Some of the games contain elements from the books that were not in the films. Most notably, the first three games include Peeves fairly prominently, despite him being Adapted Out of the films. Considering these games were intended as film tie-ins, this is probably the unintentional result of the fact that the games and films were in production at the same time, and the game developers may not have known exactly what would and wouldn't be in the film version. Incidentally, the earlier games contain more book-only material, with the game series hewing closer and closer to the movie canon as it goes along.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Not many people care about you randomly using spells for no reason. Shoot up a pot or a painting in front of some students or a teacher? Nothing. Levitate a desk or two and throw them around? Unless it's in a plot, nothing.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • In the fifth and sixth games, you can Wingardium Leviosa benches and toss them around in the air, meaning you can also throw them at people. In an interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Emma Watson reported that her brother once vented his frustration with her by throwing benches at Hermione in the game (here's the clip).
    • Starting with the home console games, since you have free will to cast spells. The reactions from various NPCs sure are entertaining when you Flip- their - endos! Partially invoked in the I'm Game For That fanfiction for the first game.
    • In the Lego game, you can go around turning people into beetles, putting flowers on their heads, or, for giggles, if you choose to play as Voldemort, just blast everyone with Avada Kedavra.
    • In the first two PC games, or at least the second, you can climb to the very top of the Grand Staircase and jump off, gleefully killing Harry or, if you have max health and have all the Wizard Cards, almost kill him. In the third, you can always drop Ron down "bottomless pits" (in several of them you can actually see the bottom if you just look down) or send Harry flying off the edge of ice slides. And then there are the gnomes and the imps… with the gnomes, you hex them and then throw them around (you can actually carry them around until the game gets rid of them for you if you wanted), and with the imps you throw exploding wizard crackers at them in the third game (previously used on you by Malfoy). Also, there's Peeves.
  • Weird Currency:
    • Bertie Bott's Beans is the main currency at Hogwarts that you use to trade with Fred and George for stuff. Whose idea on the development team was it to use candy as money? It's revealed that the twins were using them to play a practical joke on Snape by burying him with beans in the first game, but it doesn't make it any less weird. And in the second and third game, the professors get in on the act by allowing students to visit a Bean Bonus Room. It gets even weirder in the third game, which adds Pumpkin Pasties and Cauldron Cakes into the mix.
    • Averted in the first two GBC games and Prisoner of Azkaban on GBA, which use Sickles.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: The background students in the earlier games. They had one or two pairs of male and female students per house duplicated endlessly. And everyone looks like they're the same age as Harry — older students only exist when they're named characters.


Video Example(s):


Harry Potter - Weasley's Wares

For God knows what reason, the Harry Potter video games use Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans as money at Hogwarts instead of the standard wizarding currency Knuts, Sickles, and Galleons.

How well does it match the trope?

4.64 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeirdCurrency

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