10 years is a long time to accrue a healthy smattering of tie-in videogames, and the Harry Potter franchise barreled through over a dozen in that decade, sometimes with the grace of a champion Seeker, others like a Whomping Willow. Who can blame young fans for latching onto a series that practically revolutionized the concept of YA literature? Make no mistake, plenty of the Harry Potter games suffered the usual licensed game slights of rushed schedules and cheap production values, but there’s still a number of gems hiding in the goblet.
Here are all the Harry Potter games ranked from worst to best.
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13. Harry Potter for Kinect: Not even You Know Who would be so evil as to gift this to someone. What in practice sounds like the perfect excuse to wave your toy wand and mispronounce Levio-SAH quickly devolves into broken gameplay and repetitive structure worthy of only the worst of Kinect's lineup.
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12. Wonderbook: Book of Spells: Somewhat loosely associated with the Harry Potter franchise, Wonderbook leads young players through a series of augmented reality games similar to the PlayStation EyeToy or Kinect. Unfortunately, while it's got some level of charm, the gimmick of casting spells and summoning creatures wears thin pretty quickly, and you're left with a coffee table book that no one really asked for in the first place.
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11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Despite coming in second-to-last chronologically, therefore imbuing it with the franchise's best graphics and presentation, Deathly Hallows Part 1 suffered most from the sort of poor game design expected from movie tie-in games. While the games up to this point had been a mix of charming exploration and item collecting, the action was quickly relegated to over-the-shoulder, third-person spellcasting, complete with an annoying cover system ripped out of some half-witted Gears of War clone. Being that the film's very existence is to lob the ball for the second's eventual spike, much of the short game is pointless corridor shooting through farmland and forests against endless hordes of Death Eaters and spiders. There are also a few aggravating first-person segments where you don an invisibility cloak, but who cares about stealth? Here are a couple pixies for you to aimlessly shoot at. Don't forget the imitation voice actors, either, who worm their way into your brain the way that only imitations can.
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10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2: To no one's surprise, Deathly Hallows' second installment was largely the same mess as the first, albeit with the more appropriate context of an actual wizarding war instead of gentle meadow skirmishes. Perhaps the most insulting use of Harry Potter's universe is turning every spell into a different form of gunfire, adding to the feeling of this game being a Gears clone. There's the oft-repeated Stupefy, sniping with Petrificus Totalus, and using the jinx curse Impedimenta to shoot out bloody missiles.
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9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Essentially a cheap hack-n-slash with wands, Goblet of Fire ignores any social or extracurricular element of a wizarding education in favor of a linear, one-note slog. Locked into one spell at a time, the game quickly becomes monotonous and repetitive. Enemies burst in Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, which doesn't quite go with the game's decidedly darker color palette. Even worse, players can find themselves having to repeat a level to earn more shields, the only way to progress onto higher levels. Gauntlet would be ashamed.
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8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Adopting a strikingly more cartoonish vibe, this PlayStation 2 title managed to largely avoid offending critics who no doubt had little hopes for the first of many eventual Harry Potter tie-ins. Still, a rather short and simplified approach focused on platforming couldn't push this game up any higher on the list.
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7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Another cuter, cartoonier installment, but hampered by dull action sequences and monotonous storytelling. Weirdly enough, despite most scenes being properly acted out, the game's ending scenarios from the Shrieking Shack and onward are narrated, and poorly. It's quite the feat to blast through the reveals of arguably the best Harry Potter book installment.
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6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Sporting the washed out greys and browns of the early PS3/Xbox 360 era, Order of the Phoenix is certainly no looker, but the decision to ditch the level-oriented design of earlier games allows for the first relatively to-scale recreation of Hogwarts. Exploration is a big part of the game, allowing players to collect items like Harry's invisibility cloak and uncover the secrets of the castle. A majority of the actual film cast reprise their roles for the voice work, a huge improvement over any imitators EA could have easily gathered up. Unfortunately, much of the game's tasks, including hunting down other students and assisting them, aren't terribly interesting.
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5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Taking a page from Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince continues the design of an open-world Hogwarts castle, along with some slightly improved graphics. There's not much terribly new here, but interesting additions like a demanding potion crafting system and a revised Quidditch mechanic help keep things interesting. Sadly, much of the Quidditch is just readjusting Harry onscreen to avoid obstacles and hit the appropriate checkmark hoops in midair as he struggles to reach the Golden Snitch. It's too bad that much of work in this installment was abandoned for the more grim Deathly Hallows games.
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4. Chamber of Secrets: Strangely enough, the series' second installment found a critically adoring fan base, especially in regards to player movement, heavily compared to Link in Legend of Zelda. With an auto-jump ability to help avoid falling during precarious platforming segments, and a distinct sense of dungeon crawling, it's hard to miss the similarities, especially when you get your hands on it. The Quidditch sections also distinctly feel like the precursors to a more popular installment in the franchise.