I am very excited to tell you about this app, Harry Potter: Spells. We are big Harry Potter fans at our house, the kids even named our dog Ginny after Ginny Weasley. Bet you’re glad you know that random fact! So we found the news about an official Harry Potter app pretty neat and we couldn’t wait to try it out.
The idea is to turn your iPhone into a magic wand and use it to cast spells. When you first begin playing you’ll take a trip to Olivanders and meet your wand. Then you’ll visit the Sorting Hat and be placed in your house. I went to Hufflepuff. For me the name Hufflepuff has always conjured up a mental image of short, roundish people with pleasant dispositions. I fit two out of those three (and lately it’s not the last one) and so my sorting seemed fairly appropriate. I would have liked to be in Gryffindor (who wouldn’t?) and I did not want to be a Slytherin so I was satisfied.
Now it’s time to learn some spells in the practice mode. Here you learn the names, what they do and how to move your iPhone. You also have the option to record the spell names in your own voice. When you’re ready you can duel. Dueling lets you cast whatever spells you’d like but you’ve got to watch out because your opponent is casting some right back at you. You can duel in a single player mode or against someone else who has Harry Potter Spells on their iPhone/iPod Touch.
The concept of Harry Potter Spells was easy to grasp but the execution was not. The app gives you an explanation of how to move your iPhone to cast the spells but I just could not get it. I kept failing over and over again and even though my failure was stated by a cheery British voice, the words still stung. Thankfully I discovered a brief instructional video on the app’s website that demonstrated how to correctly cast the spells. The trick is to hold your phone like it’s a piece of chalk and you are drawing the spell’s motions on a chalkboard. You’ve got to keep your iPhone level and you can’t swing it around. (Wrist straps??) Once I had the idea of writing with chalk down I was casting spells like a pro, well, almost. The dueling feature is fun but I wouldn’t recommend trying it out until you’ve got a good chunk of spells memorized. You’ll need to know them.
My husband and I are the only ones who’ve tried to duel against each other. (We used the library sharing feature in iTunes so we were able to share the app.) It was a bit tricky and will take practice before we’re any good at it. I need a better grasp on it myself before I let my kids try, otherwise we’ll all be frustrated. Unlike multiplayer duels, when you duel as a single player you are allowed to choose your skill level. I’ll start my kids on that first. I don’t think it’d be the worst idea for Warner Brothers to make the spell casting just a smidge easier.
It was tricky getting the hang of Harry Potter: Spells but once I figured out how to move my phone I was entertained. If you’re a fan of the books (or you live with a fan of the books) you’ll enjoy it. Just be prepared for a learning curve when you start out. Finally, I was given a video of Ron, Fred and George Weasley talking about Harry Potter: Spells. Unfortunately someone must have used the Confundus Charm on me because I got into trouble. So follow this link to see the Weasley boys with iPhones. It looks to me like they’re in Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop. Now that’s a place I would love to visit.
Price when Reviewed: $4.99 ***Harry Potter Spells on sale for $2.99 through 1/1/2010
Seller: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.