By Todd Bernhard on Mon, 11/22/2010
The real "trick" that JK Rowling was able to perform was to print money. The books, movies, merchandise, and theme park have all taken a good chunk of my income. But I am okay with that. At least I'm supporting a literary endeavor as my oldest daughter reads as fast as Ms. Rowling can write them, if not faster.
But the Harry Potter franchise's latest trick may be to make me buy a second iPad, so my daughter can use my old one. We're both "fighting" over the device and lately I've only been given a chance to play LEGO Harry Potter when she gets stuck, or thankfully, is at school.
As an iPhone app developer, I've had access to iOS 4.2 for some time now, so I have been able to play LEGO Harry Potter on my iPad. The good news is that today Apple is releasing 4.2 to the rest of the world, so you can run this Universal app on the iPad's big screen, where it shines. Read the description if you don't have the newest equipment as there are some limitations.
The 359MB app covers years 1-4, so that leaves open the likelihood of a follow-on app for the later years, similar to what the LEGO Star Wars franchise has done. I'm glad they didn't do one app per year, so you really get your bang for your $4.99 worth of iTunes bucks!
The images are well done, especially on a Retina display or iPad. You can play as your favorite character, or create your own LEGO minifig with Hogwarts' styling! The interface can be trying sometimes, as this is not a typical shoot-em-up game. You have to solve puzzles, make potions, and swipe to make certain gestures and it's not always clear what to do. That's where my daughter asked for my help and usually we could solve the obstacle together. But a game should be challenging without the control being the challenge. Perhaps a Hint button or question mark gesture would be in order. Dumbledore could appear and guide you through! Likewise a 'Save' option is an oversight. You have to finish a level to save your progress and for such an involved game, it makes it difficult to say "Time to go to bed" when a level is 80% completed!
Any fan of either Harry Potter or LEGOs will like this app, and a fan of both will love it! Just make sure you have a device capable of running it (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, or more recent iPod touch). And don't start a level unless you have time to complete it!