When Harry Potter wanted to be Final Fantasy

When Harry Potter wanted to be Final Fantasy

2022 could be (again) the year of Harry Potter. It will be 12 important months for many other series, certainly, but among the many brands ready to (re) win the hearts of fans, Harry Potter is one of the most significant. January began for example with the reunion "The Return to Hogwarts", through which we relived the glories of the film saga, which began twenty years ago. Also at the cinema we will be able to experience the adventures of Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore's Secrets, next April. Finally, if we trust the rumors, it will also be the year of Hogwarts Legacy, a new video game that is currently still partially shrouded in mystery.

Hogwarts Legacy is certainly highly anticipated and will be a breath of fresh air for the fans of Wizarding World, but it will certainly not be the first time that players will explore the world of Harry Potter in videogame format. Even excluding "alternative" versions like the LEGO ones, the AR Harry Potter: Wizards Unite experience or Candy Crash titles like Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, the English wizard over the years has rode the wave of success of films and books with multiple more or less faithful transpositions on PC and console.

Before looking to the future, therefore, we want to turn our gaze to the past and precisely to one of the first video games of the saga: Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. Even more precisely, our focus today is the Game Boy Color version of the first chapter of the saga.

It should be known that Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was proposed in 2001 in the following versions: PS1, PC, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. To then arrive in 2003 also on PS2, Xbox and Game Cube. The versions of 2001 are all different from each other, and those of 2003 are also different from those of 2001. It is a situation that may seem absurd today, given that the trend is to bring the same game on as many platforms as possible with the same content to save on production costs. At the time, however, Harry Potter was a platform game, a top-down puzzle game, an action-adventure game, and even a turn-based role-playing game. The latter is just the version we want to talk to you about today, let's take a journey into the memories of that era when Harry Potter wanted to be Final Fantasy.


Griptonite logo Before we dive into the magical world of Harry Potter, let's take a step back and quickly see who the developers of the Game Boy Color (and Game Boy Advance, to be honest) version of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone were.

At the head of the project were obviously Warner Bros., which owns the Harry Potter brand, and Electronic Arts, which produced the games. However, Amaze Entertainment (2001), the new name of KnowWonder (1997), was in charge of the actual development. More precisely, the handheld games division was Griptonite Games, which over the years has developed multiple tie-ins of games based on Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Penguins of Madagascar, Simpson, The Sims, Assassin's Creed, Age of Empires and not only.

We are talking about a company that, between main and subsidiary teams, in less than fifteen years of activity has produced over 100 games and sold 40 million units. Amaze / Griptonite was a prolific development team able to forge great collaborations, but it eventually fell by the wayside and was absorbed by a team dedicated to the mobile world. Their story is not the most interesting, then, but nonetheless this company has been part of the gaming market for years and has left a mark on many and many young people with their games.


Harry Potter in Diagon Alley, near Ollivander's shop But let's talk about the game, about that Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone which aimed to be a mass success and to arrive on all possible platforms. To do this, of course, one had first of all to tackle a big problem. The power of the Game Boy Color was in no way comparable to that of a PlayStation or a PC.

If on stationary gaming platforms the other teams opted for third-person 3D works, ranging from platform to action, Griptonite Games chose a more graphically simple, but playfully interesting JRPG. The choice of the genre was also conditioned by the tastes of the time. Although released in 2001, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was a child of the 90s, dominated by Pokémon, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, which had only recently abandoned 2D in favor of 3D, simultaneously with the change of the flag. from Nintendo to Sony PlayStation.

The battle system of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is classic turn-based The inspiration is clear from many points of view. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone opts for a classic turn-based combat system (instead of the more modern ATB). The big difference compared to the other JRPGs is the fact that a team is missing: only Harry is fighting, even if accompanied on a narrative level by Ron and Hermione in most of their raids.

For the rest, however, proposed all the classic stylistic features: the character had life points and magic points, to be exploited to cast spells (mostly invented for the occasion), which followed the structure made famous by Final Fantasy, with spells repeated in increasingly powerful versions. Instead of Fire, Fira and Firaga, Harry Potter proposed Vermillious Uno, Vermillious Duo, Vermillious Tria for example: the basic idea, as you can see, was the same.

What else? Well, stat gear was a key part of the experience - there were hats, cloaks, gloves, and boots to increase Harry's power and stamina, to buy in stores, along with HP and PM healing items. >
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Professor McGonagall The very structure of the game is pure JRPG. Harry moves between safe areas - with characters to talk to and shops where to shop - and dungeons full of enemies, present on the screen in the form of a gelatinous blue mass: upon contact, the battle starts in a classic arena. The dungeons then hide secondary passages in which to collect treasures. Experience point farming is another big point in common with various other JRPGs: by advancing linearly, Harry is rarely strong enough to be able to defeat the classic end-of-area boss with ease, unless he knows the game perfectly and make the most of your resources.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (GBC) by Griptonite Games is therefore an extremely classic game in structural terms, the son of its own era and of a development team that certainly does not want to innovate .

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone is first and foremost a faithful Harry Potter game. This is not a feature to be taken for granted, and we can see it just by looking at the other versions released in the same year. PC, PS1 and Game Boy Advance games, for example, create original story events to give the player reasons to explore areas of the castle created for the occasion. These are ideas related to the world of Harry Potter: Marlfoy stealing Hedwig, for example, and traps her in a cage in the most remote recesses of the castle (precisely, this happens on PS1). The new areas are obviously made with a design in line with the genre chosen for the game, but far from faithful to the original work.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, on Game Boy Color, recreates instead all the settings in a sufficiently faithful way, proposing the whole school, with the different floors, the classrooms, the park and the forest, all positioned correctly. There are obviously differences, one on all scales that don't move, but there are touches of class, such as the secret passages typical of the school and often mentioned in books.

Griptonite Games, as they say, "did his homework" and made a game that truly satisfies fans of books and movies. During the whole adventure it is possible to follow the events of the plot hand in hand, revived without particular distortions.

The lake of Hogwarts, full of enemies to face or avoid We must then give credit to the development team for the great commitment in the creation of multiple environments. The other 2001 works dedicated to The Philosopher's Stone start directly from Hogwarts, while the 2003 versions allow us to get Harry's wand in first person (after completing a long puzzle-platform dungeon in Ollivander's workshop) and then jump directly exploring the school.

The GBC version, on the other hand, takes us to Diagon Alley and allows us to explore the commercial area, enter all the shops to make our purchases, but only after having explored the Gringotts (in this version a bit more dangerous than usual) to get Harry's money back. After a train ride, also explorable, you arrive at Hogwarts, but you have to go through the lake and the castle dungeons (both filled with enemies), before you can get to the Great Hall. During the adventure you will have to follow the lessons, completing flying mini-games, learning Wingardium Leviosa and collecting ingredients for Snape's potions.

The mini-game dedicated to Wingardium Leviosa in Harry Potter and The Stone Philosopher This is a journey that allows you to truly experience Harry's story, step by step. Unfortunately, there was one big lack: Quidditch. The sport of wizards will in fact be introduced only in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets (GBC version, also by Griptonite Games), which evolves the mechanics (we have a team of characters in battle, for example) and the amount of minigames (from launch of gnomes to a strange bowling alley) and explorable areas (there's even Ron's house).

Overall though, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was one of the most faithful and interesting games for the very young people who, at the time, spent their days re-reading the adventures of Harry Potter. You could really feel the atmosphere of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, also thanks to the free exploration.

The points of the houses of Hogwarts Unfortunately, Harry Potter's JRPG drift didn't last long. Until the third installment of the series, EA continued to produce mixed games but, with the transition to the Goblet of Fire, the FIFA company began to focus everything on the more action elements.

Don't think that three games, for the time, are many. We are talking about years during which tie-ins were produced in profusion, relying above all on the number and timeliness of publication: already in 2004 (or 3 years after The Philosopher's Stone), Griptonite had published the Prisoner of Azkaban (this time only on Game Boy Advance) and said goodbye to Harry Potter.

While produced quickly, these JRPGs were made with great care and attention and have become one of the best ways to truly experience the atmosphere of the movies and the most popular school of magic in recent decades. Attention to the smallest detail was what made it unique, amidst the many Harry Potter themed productions.

So let's hope Hogwarts Legacy has been crafted with the same care. A "next-gen" graphics, an interesting combat system and an exciting storyline will obviously be welcome, but the narrative universe of Harry Potter is made up of small details that create "that" atmosphere that is still difficult to describe in words today. Hogwarts Legacy, while distancing itself from the adventures of novels and films, will have to know how to leverage the nostalgia that we still feel today in the face of this saga. Do you think he will succeed?

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