E3 08: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Wii Hands On

Jul 18, 2008

As E3 wound down I decided to take one final walk of the small show floor in search of some me time games. I bolted over to the EA booth to check out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the Wii. I was most interested to check out what new features were in the game and if the game play had been improved. I’m happy to report that the latest Harry Potter game on the Wii is going to be the best Potter game to date.

I was treated to three separate demos of the game: duel, potion making, and quidditch. If you’ve ever wanted to re-enact Harry vs. Draco or a host of other wizard duels you will now be able to in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The demo I was shown was Harry vs. Draco. I got to play as Harry and after the mandatory exchange of bows got into a match. The first thing you’ll notice is the wand and nunchuk controls are the most precise they’ve ever been. It’s almost 1:1 motion. To do a simple attack raise your wand up and flourish it forward. You can also charge up an attack by holding your wand up for a few seconds. The spell list for the demo included all the most common spells such as stupify, expelliarmus, and reducto. You’re able to block attacks by crossing your arms with the wand and nunchuk. You can also strafe away from attacks by pulling your arms to either side. The simple combat mechanics contain a lot of depth in terms of accuracy. If you fire too many spells in a row they won’t be accurate leaving you to attack. You must pick and choose when and which spells to fire. With some of the more powerful spells you’ll be able to stun or immobilize your opponent for a few seconds which allows you to flourish many spells for a lot of damage.

The second mini game on display was potion making. Seeing as how central potions were to the HBP story it makes sense that potions be a mini game. It’s actually pretty fun and addicting as you’re racing a timer to correctly make a potion. You’ll be given a cauldron and various bottles around you and the game will prompt you to pick up a certain container with the wand and with motion controls make a pouring motion into the cauldron. There is precision involved in HBP potion as there is in the HP world. If you pour too much or too little your potion won’t be marked as well. Remember that you are racing against a clock so the steeper you tip your container the faster the ingredient will pour. The wand will rattle when you have poured the right amount. If you pour too fast you won’t feel the rumble and cauldron will turn black indicating a mistake. If you pour too slow, you may run out of time. Be a swift and accurate wizard. Once complete you’ll receive a grade for your potion.

The last mini game in the demo was quidditch. Quidditch is making a come back in similar style as previous attempts. You will be flying as Harry attempting to catch the snitch. However, flying is on rails and isn’t free form. You’ll need to pass through gates within the pitch to gain some speed to catch the snitch. Miss too many gates and the snitch will get away. You’ll have to deal with a few obstacles along the way like flying around the hogwarts ground and Draco trying to knock you off your broom but it’s pretty standard quidditch as before. I asked why no free form and was told because the snitch is so small the snitch kept on getting lost in free form flying trials. All in all the game seems to be shaping up well for the Harry Potter franchise and if the amount of attention paid to dueling is any indication the final single player campaign should be a lot of fun. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince game hits alongside the movie later this year.