Harry Potter Interactive DVD Game: Hogwarts Challenge Review
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Players: 1-4
Playing Time: 30 minutes or more (depending on the number of players and their skill level)

Now that you’ve read and re-read (and possibly even re-re-read) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, how in Hogwarts is a devoted Harry Potter fan supposed to pass the time until the next Harry Potter movie comes out? Well, the Harry Potter Interactive DVD Game: Hogwarts Challenge can’t hurt. At the very least, it’ll keep you occupied for a while.

Played using the arrows (and a few other buttons) on your DVD’s remote, Hogwarts Challenge takes players through their first three years at Hogwarts and challenges them to get the most points and win tickets to the Quidditch World Cup. To do so, you’ll have to complete three classes each year—along with some optional extracurricular activities, if you choose—before competing in the year-end challenge to see which house will win the year’s House Cup. Along the way, you’ll earn and/or lose points for your house, depending on your performance. And the player who wins at least one House Cup and ends up with the most points at the end of three years gets to take part in a wizarding duel for a chance to win those coveted tickets.

When I first flipped through the game’s instruction manual, I was a bit concerned. There’s a lot going on in this game—classes and activities and challenges, along with some random movie clips that pop up to add or take away points. But my nine-year-old nephew—who recently jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon—couldn’t wait to try it out. Unfortunately, though, his excitement didn’t last long.

DVD games definitely have limitations. They don’t have all the buttons of a regular video game system. There isn’t constant, “real-time” action. What Hogwarts Challenge does have, however, are some great graphics. The game animation is impressive—and there are plenty of scenes from the first few Harry Potter movies interspersed throughout.

Hogwarts Challenge does offer some interesting activities. And while it takes a time or two to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing (and we never really did figure out some of them), it’s fun to follow the wands and explore the rooms and streets surrounding Hogwarts. Many of the challenges, however, are too confusing for young players (or even grown-up players, for that matter)—and, no matter how hard you try, it’s tough to get your remote to respond at exactly the right moment. After a few tries, my nephew gave up in frustration and handed the remote over to his uncle to finish the game.

Though the graphics are pretty cool, it may very well take a real wizard to figure out Hogwarts Challenge. As a special feature on one of the Harry Potter DVDs, it would have been worth checking out and playing a few times. But since it’s sold separately, as a separate DVD game, I’d recommend it only for the most devoted Harry Potter collectors.

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