More than a year into its life-cycle, the Nintendo Switch has a library of software so huge it’s going to put most boxed-edition collectors into bankruptcy. One series that’s already brought plenty of its entries to Switch is TT Games’ licence-driven LEGO games, and with LEGO The Incredibles and LEGO DC Super-Villains already having made a bricky splash on the hybrid console in 2018, here’s the LEGO Harry Potter Collection as well for good measure.
If you’re picking up this two-game set for the first time, you’ll begin to appreciate just how far the British studio has taken the franchise while still maintaining that familiar mix of platforming, puzzle-solving and tongue-in-cheek humour. It’s easy to forget LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 came out all the way back in 2010 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 the year after, and as such, they represent the days before the introduction of features such as grand mega-builds and bespoke voice-overs.
That being said, like all of the series’ entries across countless film properties, LEGO Harry Potter still captures the quaint magic of the films while keeping everything suitably family-friendly. Years 1-4 (and its sequel) was a turning point for LEGO games in general when it launched eight years ago, offering a far more elaborate approach to the hub system. Whether exploring The Leaky Cauldron or Hogwarts itself, you're getting far more than a simple locale from which to revisit old or new chapters in the story. Hogwarts especially is an entire level in and of itself, full of secrets and collectables to uncover.
The first game uses regular classes as a way to unlock new spells (which can be used in combat, or to solve certain puzzles as you progress) with everything from Lumos for banishing dark shadows and good ol’ Wingardium Leviosa for solving the vast majority of the conundrums involving moving bricks and building certain objects. It’s a neat way of urging you to explore more of Hogwarts and breaking up your movement through all four films. You can even use The Leaky Cauldron as a way to access Diagon Alley and use its many shops to buy new parts and customise your characters.
Sure, most of the boss battles are far too easy and fail to leave an impression across either game, and there’s no support for online co-op (just local two-player co-op for both games), but there’s just so much content to keep you entertained it’s a concession we’re willing to accept. With well over 350 characters to collect, 400 gold bricks to earn, 48 house crests to complete, 40 red bricks and 110 students in peril (which serve as an extra task in each level, and across Hogwarts and its other hubs), you’re going to have plenty to keep you casting spells long after the story has been wrapped up. Even one of the games on its own offers a hefty slice of stuff to do, and both consistently nail the personality of the JK Rowling's Wizarding World at every turn.
The Nintendo Switch versions benefits from the technical enhancements TT Games introduced when the Collection was remastered for Xbox One and PS4, including improved lighting effects and reduced blurring. There’s still some artifacting to be found - especially when the game zooms in on an asset or character model a little too closely - but overall it’s a far better-looking version than the instalments you may have played on Nintendo Wii and 3DS. Spell effects, specifically during duelling, also look noticeably prettier now.
This collection also bundles in plenty of extra character DLC, so you’ll have access to ten new/variant mini-figs including Godric Gryffindor, Harry (Yule Ball), Helga Hufflepuff, Lockhart (Straightjacket), Luna (Lion Head), Peeves, Hermione (Pink Dress), Ron Weasley (Ghoul), Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. On top of that, you’ll also be able to utilise the Spell Pack DLC which adds in Cantis, Densaugeo, Ducklifors, Melofors and Tentaclifors (although you’ll need to finish each respective story in order to make the most these extra versions and new additions).
While LEGO Harry Potter Collection is one of the oldest instalments in the overall series still in current-gen circulation, it’s aged remarkably well. Despite lacking some of the subtle changes the franchise has benefited from in the years since, the use of Hogwarts as a vast and secret-filled hub, a huge collection of characters to collect from across all eight films and a clever use of the Harry Potter licence makes for a remaster that only enhances Nintendo Switch’s growing LEGO library. If you've played nothing but the recent LEGO games then it may, at times, feel a little old and basic, but this fantastic beast hasn’t entirely lost its magic yet.