Harry Potter: Spells
Transform your iPhone into a magic wand. Just don't hurt yourself.
Thanks to the power of the iPhone, users have been able to recreate their wildest nerd fantasies, like wielding a lightsaber with The Force Unleashed app or playing an ocarina like Link from the Legend of Zelda series. Well, add another experience to the list with Harry Potter: Spells, a Warner Bros. game that enables you to treat your device like a magic wand.
When you first start up Spells, you'll get an invitation to the Hogwarts School. Upon arrival, you'll receive a magic wand, and the Sorting Hat will automatically assign you to one of the four wizard houses. Being given the option to choose your own class would've been nice, though. Out of the multiple times we played, only once were we not thrown into the clutches of Slytherin.
From there, you'll receive proper instruction on how to execute one of 14 different spells. To perform them, you'll need to place your thumb on the screen, holding a virtual wand, and then move your arm in the pattern as indicated. Unfortunately, this is the most frustrating part of the game. We spent minutes at a time trying to do what the instructor told us, only to be scolded for either going too slow or doing the wrong thing, even though we moved in the exact way shown. Warner Bros. needs to update this app to make it more user friendly, especially considering the young audience that will purchase it during the holiday season.
After you complete the lessons, you'll have the option to duel against opponents. There are three difficulty settings available, but fighting against the computer is dull; it casts the same offensive spells, which are easy to break and defeat. However, if you find a friend that has the same app for his or her iPhone/iPod Touch, you can engage in a two-player duel. These are surprisingly fun, as you'll both struggle to pull off the right attacks while watching explosive effects on your screens. Bluetooth bouts are also available, but they're not nearly as cool, since you can't watch reactions from your fellow players.
Harry Potter: Spells has a great presentation. Along with the nifty spell-casting effects (glowing rays of light spark across the screen), the game oozes with atmosphere taken straight from the Warner Bros. films. The familiar opening theme song is here, along with other selections from the soundtrack.
Unfortunately, snazzy visuals only take this game so far. Without good controls or likable opponents to face off against, Harry Potter: Spells fails to keep the magic intact.
What's Hot: Multiplayer spell casting bouts, presentation is on par with the Harry Potter films.
What's Not: Demanding controls make spell casting a chore, competing against computer opponents isn't nearly as good as battling a fellow player, you have no control over which house you join or wand you use.