The not-so-magical world of “Pottermore”

Entertainment Story. Art by Chris Brockman.

Entertainment Story. Art by Chris Brockman.

All right, I admit it. I was one of those nerds who stayed up until the wee hours of morning waiting to get into the “Pottermore” beta. Then, after the third time I missed the deadline, I signed up for one of those Twitter accounts that told you the date and answer to that day’s question. Perhaps, in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so surprised to get sorted into Slytherin House.

About a month after that, though, I kind of lost interest in “Pottermore”. Potion brewing was buggy, the magic duel mini-game had yet to materialize, and it took me about a day to read through all the extra stuff written by J.K. Rowling. Sony has been periodically updating the site – the last I checked, they’re up to “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” now – but it hasn’t been enough to bring me back. Until I heard that “Pottermore” was coming to the PSHome, the 3D social hub on the Playstation 3.

The posts on the offical Pottermore Insider blog had me pretty psyched. This, it seemed, was what I’d been hoping the web version would be like. Now, I could really create a witchy version of myself and explore the world of Harry Potter. When I had the chance to try it out this weekend, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last for very long.

Before I start getting critical, though, let me talk about what I liked. If you ask me, it’s in the PSHome version of “Pottermore” that the world of Harry Potter really comes to life. Exploring the streets of Diagon Alley and the halls of the Hogwarts Express is a much more immersive experience than simply browsing the amazing art of Atomhawk Design on the web. The areas are a great adaptation of the aforementioned artwork. The fantastic music from the films is well integrated. Finally, it’s a lot of fun walking around and discovering the hidden writings of J.K. Rowling.

Unfortunately, there are two glaring flaws in the game play: there’s not much to explore and there’s not much to do.

The two locations available at the moment are lovingly recreated but they don’t offer much depth. All you can do is stroll the streets of Diagon Alley. You can’t actually enter the stores, though you can buy pets and accessories for your avatar – if you’re willing to part with a little real world money. (I wasn’t.) The Hogwarts Express has the same problem. It looks just like the films, but sadly, that isn’t enough to make walking down long hallways interesting.

There are four mini-games: Trading Cards, Book Herding, Harry Potter Trivia and Wizard Duels. Each requires at least one other player to participate. Book Herding, where you try and capture the monstrous living schoolbooks wandering free in Diagon Alley, was a lot of fun. I also enjoyed the Wizard Duels. I couldn’t get into the card games, although that might have just been me – plenty of people were chatting about it. The trivia was entertaining but threw me out of experience. Why would I be answering HP questions if I were supposedly a character in that world?

Ultimately, I got bored with “Pottermore”. Again.

Now, I think it has potential. To be fair, this version just came out, and there are plans to expand it. Once the game allows us to explore Hogwarts itself I may give it another try. In the meantime, though, I would recommend that most Potterphiles wait a while and stick with the existing “Harry Potter” video games.

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About Georgia Romig

Georgia Romig is a web assistant for The Prairie. She has been contributing since 2006, became a staff reporter in 2007 and an editor in 2008. Her job is to maintain The Prairie web site and social media outlets. She is a Graduate Student majoring in Communication. You can contact her on Twitter, Facebook or by e-mail.

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