Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Reviewed by Beth Scagnelli
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-08-18 Nintendo 3DS Action/Adventure EC (Early Childhood),E (Everyone) EA

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Since reading the first four books of J. K. Rowling's immensely popular series in quick and rabid succession seven years ago (and then waiting, drooling, for the next book to be released seemingly eons later) I have been hooked. However, I have not always been a fan of the Potter franchise's games. Although I have played a fair number of the games (usually based solely on the Warner Brother's films), I have not been impressed. But of all of the Harry games, I found Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the Nintendo DS to be the most engaging game of the series.

The Nintendo DS (as well as the Wii) is the perfect venue for a wand-wielding wizardry game. With the system's stylus, you can lead Harry as he seeks to survive a vile new headmistress, the trials and tribulations of puberty, and, not least of all, You-Know-Who, during his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Along the way you run into such notable characters as Ron and the Weasley family, Hermione, Neville, Draco, and Snape.

The gameplay is quite simple. Most of the quests that Harry, Ron, and Hermione must perform involve navigating the maze-like halls of Hogwarts and completing some kind of test, whether it be a wizarding duel with one of Harry's enemies, class work such as Charms practice (in which the "waving" of the stylus comes into play) and Potion making, or even simply interacting with other characters. Although the skill required of the gamer is low, somehow this combination is strangely addicting. I did begin to tire of running down the same stairs and hallways again and again, but the wand work challenges and duels did seem to make reparations for that grind.

The game looks wonderful. The scenery of Hogwarts as well as the characters are rendered quite nicely, especially for the sometimes claustrophobic dual-screens of the DS. The music is nondescript and standard for a handheld game. I was disappointed at the drone of the soundtrack and wish that they had included more of John Williams' fantastic film score into the game.

One of the my favorite aspects of the game is that it includes references to the Order of the Phoenix book that are not included in the movie. As someone who enjoyed the books exponentially more than the films, I appreciated that the developers took the time to get to know their subject matter a little more closely.

I also laughed out loud quite a few times at some of the characters' dialogue. It is great to see that EA let the now adolescent characters mature into slightly snarkier versions of their child selves.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a solid if mostly unremarkable game for the Nintendo DS. Although it is my favorite game in the series, the gameplay is basic and repetitive and typically not challenging. I would most recommend this game for children or gamers who are already fans of the Harry Potter franchise.