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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a PC-based video game, more akin to those found on a Sony PlayStation, or Nintendo, than the programs SuperKids typically reviews. However, given the enormous familiarity of the title of this program with both parents and their children, we thought we'd take a look.
The program begins with a series of narrated, sepia-colored storyboards that set the scene, from Harry's initial arrival on Privet Drive, through to his journey to Hogwarts. The characters are drawn to resemble the members of the movie cast. After Harry is assigned to Gryffindor house, the storyboards give way to a full-color, video-game style, 3D animation.
As the game begins, young Harry Potter meets familiar characters, including Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Rubeus Hagrid, and Albus Dumbledore. He is instructed to look behind doors for secrets, and assigned to collect flavor beans and sparkling stars. Along the way, he discovers his magical powers, and has frequent ocassion to use them in his exploration quest.
The program also includes an arcade-style game of Quidditch.
Although we are frequently tempted to say that games like this have no redeeming educational value, that's not quite true in the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Successful players are required to have good spatial awareness and memory to find their way through the convoluted and evolving, maze-like Hogwarts. Hand-eye-mouse coordination is also a requirement -- but one that our younger testers had less trouble with than their parents.
This program was an instant hit with our kid reviewers. How instant? Even before they opened the box! We'd like to tell you if it was more of a hit among those who had seen the movie and/or read the book -- but we couldn't find a child among our sizable review squad that was unfamiliar with the story. That said, there was general agreement that familiarity with the story made the program context easier to understand and appreciate -- but it would not make any difference in game playability.
This is a BIG program, requiring over 500MB of hard drive space. This program requires DirectX 8.0 (a Microsoft Windows technology used by game developers to speed their development work) -- it will check to see if you already have it installed; if not, you will be asked if you want it installed. It also helps to have fairly current video drivers. Some of our reviewers reported minor video glitches, such as garbled on-screen text.
Users with some video game experience made faster progress through the game, because of their greater ease in controlling Harry's movements (accomplished with the arrow, control, and mouse keys). Hand-eye-mouse coordination is a must.
The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone program is best suited for children who like video-game style play. Is it the best exploration game we have seen? No -- but that won't matter to young Harry Potter fans.
PC: Windows 95/98/Me/XP/2000 (NT is not supported), Pentium II 266 MHz or faster cpu (400 MHz or faster recommended), 500+ MB hard drive space, 64 MB RAM (128 MB or more recommended), 8MB video card with DirectX 8.0 compatible driver; 3D Accelerated Mode requires specific chip sets. 4X or faster CD-ROM (8X recommended), DirectX 8.0 compatible sound card .return to top of page
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