The Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire console version, which is available on Nintendo's GameCube, Sony's Playstation 2, and Microsoft's Xbox, allows the player to act as Harry, Hermione or Ron; then up to two friends can join the play as the remaining two characters. If no friends are around, the computer will provide the artificial intelligence so that the trio can work magic together.
In the previous three Harry Potter games, the focus was on learning magic.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the focus in on using magic. As the players wander through the 11 locations, they use their wands (game controllers) to see what magic they can do in each location. Charms and jinxes appear when you need them; and the more you use them and explore how to use them, the stronger a wizard you become. For example, whenever fire is near, the Aqua Eructo charm becomes available, providing a stream of water. By trying different ways of using the controls, players can create balls of water flowing through the magic stream, a much more efficient way to put out fires. Frequently, obstacles are so difficult that only by working together can the trio overcome the challenge.
The main goal in each location is to find a TriWizard Shield. Players can obtain the shield only after solving a variety of puzzles and battling creatures with magic. After earning the first shield in a location, additional shields become available, encouraging return play. Upon revisit, players will find that the areas will have changed and the game play is different. Earning enough TriWizard Shields allows players to unlock new locations, including the three that house TriWizard Tournament Tasks and the culminating confrontation with Voldemort. While most of the gameplay is cooperative, only Harry Potter can tackle the tournament tasks and Voldemort.
In the process of searching for the TriWizard Shields and casting spells, players will also uncover Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans—the currency in this world. The red beans replenish the players' stamina; the blue ones add to the trio's magical strength. The other colored beans can be used to buy Collector's Cards, special cards that boost the abilities of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Before heading into a location, the player is allowed to equip Harry, Ron and Hermione with three Collector's Cards each. One particularly useful card called "Friendship" enables the trio to regain stamina by simply standing next to each other.
This is a masterful video game because it can be enjoyed on many different levels. Younger players can simply explore this graphically rich Harry Potter world and succeed. Older players will enjoying manipulating the magic by choosing Collector's Cards, casting magic together with friends, and exploring how best to use each spell. And everyone will love flying on a broomstick to avoid a fire-breathing dragon.
Parents: many video games are bashed because they are thoughtless wastelands. Not so with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Kids playing this game will learn to cooperate with friends to accomplish difficult tasks, think creatively to solve logic puzzles, and take risks to accomplish results. If this sounds like great training for the real world—you're right, it is.
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