Friday, April 5, 2013

Pottermore on Playstation Home

If you haven't heard of it, Pottermore is a flash based website on which users can go through the highlights of the Harry Potter series as interactive moments. It has minigames, things to collect and find, new backstory written by J.K. Rowling, and some simple multiplayer things as well. It's moderately interesting, though I'm pretty sure it's just a marketing ploy to keep everyone from forgetting Harry Potter now that all the movies and books are done. 

Now that moderately interesting thingamabob has made its way to the similarly less than interesting Playstation Home. Playstation Home, if you aren't familiar, is basically a free MMO with not much purpose. It has some games that you can play, you can customize your avatar, you can explore different themed areas, and you can pay exorbitant amounts of real money to get more costumes and furniture for your room. As far as I can tell, it mostly ends up as a 3D chat room filled with advertisements for games and other products. It's also apparently been in open beta since the end of 2008.
The Pottermore areas are basically what you'd expect from Playstation Home: themed environments, overpriced DLC, and a few crappy minigames. Before you start, it's possible to link your Pottermore account to Playstation Home, but as far as I can tell this only allows you to trade the cards you've collected.

The first area is Diagon Alley, where all the witches and wizards buy their stuff. When you start, your Playstation Home persona will be wearing wizard robes. Only Harry Potter themed costumes can be worn in the Pottermore areas in order to maintain the illusion as much as possible. Like Diagon Alley from the book, there are lots of stores in this version, which of course contain clothes and virtual pets that you can buy for three-ish dollars a piece. As for games, there are card trading and "book herding". Trading cards is self explanatory and book herding involves trying to push bouncing books into a cage faster than your opponent. Sometimes spells appear that you can use to impede the other person's progress, but overall this game is incredibly simple and frustrating to play.

The other area is the Hogwarts Express, the train that students use to get to Hogwarts. This location doesn't have any DLC to buy, but it still has card trading locations. Its other minigames are a trivia game and wizard duels. The trivia game is pretty straightforward and relatively entertaining. It's first to ten points and whoever answers correctly the fastest gets to choose the next category. Wizard Duel pits you against an opponent on the train and you have to shoot spells at them. You can actually move around, hide behind the chairs, and aim your spells, so it has significantly more depth than the other games (but still not very much). Whenever you get hit, you get knocked down and have to shake the controller or rotate the control sticks to get back up. If you and your opponent's spells clash, a series of button presses come up that you have to press in order as fast as you can. Dueling is easily the most entertaining part of Pottermore on Playstation Home, but for the time it takes to download Home, the locations, and find a partner for the minigame, I can't really recommend it, even if it is free.
Overall, the Pottermore locations on Home are like the rest of Home: not worth the time and hard drive space. Exploring the areas as a wizard and taking part in the minigames might be fun for younger players, but I think most people would better enjoy playing something else or using the Pottermore website instead. Perhaps after a few updates it'll be more worth playing. 
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