Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
HarryPotterPSGameVersionOne.jpg
Original North American box art
Developer(s) KnowWonder (PC)

Argonaut (PS)
Warthog (GC, PS2, XBOX)
Griptonite (GBC)
Eurocom (GBA)
Aspyr (Mac OS X)

Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Composer(s) Jeremy Soule
Engine Unreal Engine 1.0 (Windows and Mac OS X)

BRender (PS)
Modified BRender (PS2, XBOX, GC)

Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Mac OS X, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Action-adventure with Platformer elements
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution Cartridge, CD-ROM, DVD, Nintendo optical disc

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States) is an Electronic Arts multi-platform action-adventure with heavy platformer elements video game developed by KnowWonder, Warthog, Griptonite, Argonaut, Eurocom and Westlake Interactive.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Philosopher's Stone was initially developed for the PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Color, Advance and Mac OS X, and was re-made two years later for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.[7]

The first version of the game was released on 15 November 2001 in North America, in Australia and Europe on 16 November and in Japan on 1 December 2003. The second version was released in North America on 9 December 2003, in Japan on 11 December and in Australia and Europe on 12 December.[8][9]

The story follows protagonist Harry Potter, who discovers he is a wizard, and is sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he makes friends and receives magical training, and along with his friends stop Lord Voldemort from returning to power. The game received mixed reviews. Critics commented on the game's simple gameplay and its poor graphics (2003 versions)[10][11] while others said the game's license will be the only thing to draw in fans.[11][12]

Gameplay[edit]

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone gameplay is from a third-person perspective. The player controls the character Harry Potter from a behind-the-character view.[11]

Windows[edit]

In the Microsoft Windows version, the game is played like a third-person action and puzzle game. It features combat with various creatures and bosses such as Lord Voldemort. The Flipendo Jinx is used on both enemies and objects around the environment. Many other spells are learned during lessons taught by the teachers around the school.

PlayStation[edit]

Like the Windows version the game is a third person action adventure game. But it is a completely different adaption of the book and features different story events and gameplay. It was developed in the UK by Argonaut.

GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox version[edit]

A new game of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was made for newer consoles in 2003 by Warthog Games, 2 years after the original versions. Its gameplay differed greatly from the other versions and was criticised for taking all the spells from the Chamber of Secrets version of the game.

Game Boy Color[edit]

The Game Boy Color game is a role-playing game, similar to games like Final Fantasy. The player controls Harry, starting from when Hagrid brings him to Diagon Alley. It strictly follows the story of the books, with all the scenes from that point on in the book being playable, except for the addition of bands of monsters such as rats, bats, and spiders roaming most of the locations. The spells are used for combat, rather than interacting with the environment.

Game Boy Advance[edit]

The Game Boy Advance game is completely different from the Game Boy Color game. The Game Boy Advance game is a top down puzzle game. The player explores Hogwarts, and must attend classes which often include a challenge of collecting a certain number of items, such as challenge stars or potion ingredients. This game features the familiar monsters from the other games in the series, such as snails and gnomes.

Plot[edit]

Rubeus Hagrid, a mysterious giant, leaves an orphaned Harry Potter, whose parents were murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort, on the front door step of his bullying relatives, The Dursleys. For ten years, Harry has lived with the Dursleys, not knowing that he is a wizard, and famous in the wizarding world for being the only one to survive the attacks of Voldemort, whose name no one dares to say. Harry receives a letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is told who he really is. After buying his school supplies, at Diagon Alley, he boards the Hogwarts Express on platform 9¾ with the other students. Once they arrive at Hogwarts, the students are sorted into houses: Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. It is explained that if a student does a good thing or a bad thing, "points" will be added or deducted from their "House Points". This is important, as the House with the most points will win the House Cup at the end of the year. Harry is sorted into Gryffindor, after pleading with the hat not to place him in Slytherin, notorious for being the house of darker witches and wizards, as well as Lord Voldemort. Once sorted, Harry meets Ron Weasley, a poor boy from a large, pure-blood, wizarding family and Hermione Granger, a witch born to non-magical parents.

At school, Harry begins his training as a wizard and learns more about his past. After retrieving a rememberal while riding on a broomstick, for his classmate Neville Longbottom, Harry is appointed seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Tricked by Slytherin, Draco Malfoy, Harry, Ron and Hermione, accidentally come across a huge three-headed dog on a restricted floor of the castle. After escaping they realise the dog was standing on a trap door which is guarding the Philosopher's Stone, a magical object which grants the user immortality. When Harry is almost killed during a game of Quidditch, by what appeared to be Professor Snape uttering a curse at him, Harry concludes that he is after the Philosopher's Stone.

Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to stop Snape from retrieving the Philosopher's Stone by putting the three-headed dog to sleep with music and going through the trapdoor. The three face a series of obstacles that protect the stone which includes surviving a deadly plant, catching a flying key, playing a life-sized game of Wizards Chess and choosing the correct potion to get through a magical fire. Harry, now alone, expects to face Snape but instead finds Professor Quirrell, the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Quirrell removes his turban and reveals that Voldemort was living on the back of his head. Harry retrieves the stone and Voldemort tries to get it from him but touching him burns Quirrell's skin. Harry passes out from the struggle of the battle.

He awakens in the school's hospital wing with Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster, by his side. Dumbledore explains that the stone has been destroyed but it wouldn't stop Voldemort from returning. He reassures Harry that if their battles did no more than slow Voldemort's return then he may never come back.

During the end-of-year feast, Gryffindor wins the House Cup. Harry sees it as the best evening of his life and one that he will never forget.

Development[edit]

Box art for the re-make version.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is based on the story of the same name and through working with Warner Bros. the game also features the sets and environment from the film adaptation.[13] The PC version was developed by software company KnowWonder and was built on the Unreal Engine which allowed for it to play on both software and hardware-accelerated modes.[13][14][15] The games executive producer Chris Graham stated that the game was aimed at eight to fourteen year olds with its puzzle based gameplay.[13] The PlayStation version was developed by Agronaut as an action-platform game which integrated a 3D environment into its gameplay.[16] The Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance versions were individually developed by Griptonite Games and Eurocom.[17][18]

Philosopher's Stone was first revealed on the PC at the E3 expo in May 2001.[19] A press release followed, months later, on 13 November 2001, days before the films 16 November release.[14][20] The press release stated it would ship the game to coincide with the film adaptation of the same name.[14][21]

The Philosopher's Stone remake was initially rumoured in June 2003 for next-generation consoles.[22] It was officially confirmed in July 2003 that EA was developing a new game for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube console's based on a similar format as the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets game released in 2002.[23] The game was developed by Warthog Games and set out to fix some of the problems encountered in the previous game such as loading time.[23] The game uses similar set designs and graphics as the Chamber of Secrets game and the previous generation consoles by making them 3D.[23][24] The game was released on 12 December 2003.[25]

Voice actors[edit]

The voices featured in Philosopher's Stone have a likeness provided by the cast of the film adaptation. The voice cast features Joe Sowerbutts as Harry Potter, Harry Robinson as Ron Weasley, Victoria Robinson as Hermione Granger and Stephen Fry as the narrator for the PC, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox versions.[26][27]

Soundtrack[edit]

Jeremy Soule composed the music of Philosopher's Stone.[28] The soundtrack was written by Soule before hearing the score by John Williams for the motion picture version, and features original themes written for the game.[29] The eponymous main theme is "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Theme", and is used throughout the score.[29] The soundtrack was released digitally in 2006.[30]

Spells[edit]

Spells on both the PC and PlayStation differ. Some spells are on both consoles, while some spells appear on one console only.

  • Flipendo: pushes objects (PC & PS1).
  • Alohomora: unlocks locked objects (PC).
  • Wingardium Leviosa: levitates objects (PC & PS1).
  • Incendio: burns or stuns plants (PC & PS1).
  • Lumos: reveals hidden platforms or rooms (PC).
  • Avifors: transfigures eagle statues to a living bird (PS1).
  • Verdimillious: casts light and causes light platforms to become solid (PS1).

Reception[edit]

Philosopher's Stone received positive sale figures, despite mixed reviews. From November 2001, to February 2002 it was listed as one of the top three highest-selling PC video games, and was the top selling PC title in December 2001.[31][32][33] In February 2002, the NPD Group listed it as the third top-selling PC game of 2001 after being available for only two months in North America.[34][35] The PlayStation version sold eight million copies, making it one of the best-selling PlayStation games and one of the best-selling video games of all time at the time of the release.[36]

Both versions of the game received multiple nominations. The original version received three nominations from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences for "Best Console Family Game", "Best Original Music Composition", and "Best PC Family Game" at the 5th Interactive Achievement Awards.[37] It was also nominated for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award in the "Favourite Video Game" category at the 2002 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.[38] The remake received a nomination for a Golden Joystick Award in 2003 for "MTV Film Adaptation of the Year" but lost to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.[39] The soundtrack received a nomination from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences for Original Musical Composition in 2002 but lost to Tropico.[40]

Critical response[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (GBC) 73%[41]
(GBA) 68.37%[42]
(PC) 67.35%[43]
(PS) 66.98%[44]
(GC) 63.31%[45]
(Xbox) 61.82%[46]
(PS2) 57.90%[47]
Metacritic (PC) 65/100[48]
(PS & GBA) 64/100[49][50]
(GC) 62/100[51]
(Xbox) 59/100[52]
(PS2) 56/100[53]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com C-[54]
Allgame (PC & GBC) 3.5/5 stars[55][56]
(GBA) 3/5 stars[57]
Electronic Gaming Monthly (GBC) 8.5/10[58]
(PS) 5.67/10[59]
(GBA) 5.17/10[60]
Game Informer (PS) 5.5/10[61]
(PS2) 5/10[62]
GamePro 3.5/5 stars[63][64][65]
(GBC) 3/5 stars[66]
Game Revolution D+[67]
GameSpot 6.1/10[68]
(PC) 5.5/10[69]
(GBA) 5.4/10[70]
(PS) 4/10[71]
GameSpy (PC) 68%[72]
2/5 stars[11]
GameZone (GBA) 8.9/10[73]
(GBC) 8.5/10[74]
(PC & Xbox) 8/10[75][76]
(GC) 7/10[77]
(PS2) 6.3/10[78]
IGN (PS) 8/10[79]
(GBC) 7/10[80]
6.4/10[12][10]
(GBA) 6/10[81]
Nintendo Power 4/5 stars[82][83]
(GBC) 3.7/5[84]
Official PlayStation Magazine (US) (PS) 3/5 stars[85]
(PS2) 1.5/5 stars[86]
Official Xbox Magazine 6.2/10[87]
PC Gamer US 59%[88]

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone received mixed reviews from critics. The game was compared to the Chamber of Secrets game with IGN saying the game was "like the digital equivalent of a Ron Weasley hand-me-down"[10] and GameSpot saying the graphics display "doesn't look as sharp as Chamber [of Secrets]".

Worth Playing said the voice acting was "probably the game's best aural aspect", as the actors "deliver their lines in a believable and fitting style."[89] IGN found the voice dialogue to be "well acted and very crisp."[10] GamePro said the game was "more interactive and enjoyable" than the PlayStation version.[65]

Computer and Video Games commented on Hogwarts saying it is a "curiously flat experience, and not helped by the chronically jerky frame rate."[90] X-Play said the games camera angles were "the worst offender ... It's a maddening and uncooperative system."[91] Soundtrack Geek's Jon Blough identified Jeremy Soule's music for the soundtrack as too short. He also added that "the menacing and relaxing cues [in the music] fail[ed] to provide anything definitive."[92] GameZone observed the tasks and quests and stated they ... aren't as compelling [as Chamber of Secrets], and the puzzles seem a little lacking."[77]

GameSpot praised the developers efforts, for the PlayStation version, in re-creating the Hogwarts castle and different looking characters, but said the game's graphics look like "extremely jagged polygons."[71] It also praised the PlayStation version for its "bedtime-story-style narration" and the character voice overs, but criticised the games lack of music.[71] PlayStation Illustrated noted that the PlayStation version has poor camera angles, adding that only the use of the 'L' and 'R' buttons can fix the problem, as it is not angled in the direction Harry is facing.[93] The "fun to play" Quidditch matches were praised by PlayStation Illustrated, who stated that the "matches were excellently done" and controlling Harry was easy.[93] Jeremy Conrad from IGN called it "one of the best-looking PS One games" for its graphics, but said that this can cause the frame rate to lag.[79] The easy gameplay for the PC version was criticised by GameSpot, adding that the auto jump function removes any form of a challenge from the block puzzle and platform sequences.[69] GameSpot described the score by Jeremy Soule as "enjoyable", but its repetitiveness and shortness made for less variety throughout the game.[69] GameSpot praised Game Boy Advance version for its well-animated graphics and environment, paying close attention to small details such as Harry's cape flapping while he moves and his spellcasting gestures.[70] Game Vortex criticised the GBA version for its lagging graphics that occurs when casting the "Flipendo" spell, the repetitive environments for each spell challenge level.[94] It also criticised not being able to jump over bottomless pits in the spell challenge levels, where falling down results in the level being played from the beginning.[94] GameZone praised the overall gameplay, controls and graphics, for the GBA, commenting that it is "a solid, enjoyable product", but pointed out draw-backs such as the simplistic puzzles.[73] Game Vortex and GameZone both praised the Game Boy Color version's well detailed environments, gameplay and colour usage, but was faulted for its lack of detail on enemy characters who appeared indiscernible to the main characters.[95][74] IGN commented that those who had not read the books "may be left in the dark", as there is very little narrative in the game, and tends to be aimed at Harry Potter fans.[80]

Curiosities[edit]

  • Enabling the debug mode in the PC version allows players to play many unused dialogues in the debug menus – such as storyboard dialogues from the Forbidden Forest, which is completely absent from the PC version.

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External links[edit]