The big news in mobile gaming last week revolved around everyone's favourite boy wizard. That's because Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was announced. It's an AR game built by Niantic. So that's the creators of Pokemon GO taking on one of the most beloved popular cultural phenomena of our time.
Now, while other websites might be writing articles speculating about what the game might look like, and taking guesses at when the game is actually going to come out, I thought I'd do something a little different. After all this is App Spy, and we love to do things a little different around here.
So I'm going to take a look at the Harry Potter game that Wizards Unite should copy. It is, in my humble opinion, the second best console game ever made, and if Niantic learn from its lessons then it's going to create something really, really special. But what is it I hear you scream? Well it's...
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Yeah, that's right, the tie-in game for the fifth Harry Potter film is the second best video game ever made. You probably think I'm a crazy person now. You probably think I've been injecting drugs directly into my eyeballs in an attempt to see through time or something. Well, you're wrong. I am being deadly serious.
But why is it so good? And why am I banging on about it like it's the second coming of of the video gaming jesus? Well strap in, and I'll break it down for you. Actually, you don't have to strap in, I have no idea why I said that.
The main thing that the game gets right is the atmosphere of Hogwarts. Now I know Hogwarts probably isn't going to feature too heavily in Wizards Unite, but that's not the point. OotP captures what it's like to spend time in the wizarding world in some really wonderful ways.
The castle is alive, there are nooks and crannies to explore, and it feels like something is happening everywhere you look. This is a world where young children are allowed to carry around weapons of mass destruction, and that's something Wizards Unite is going to have to do as well.
Magic, magic, magic
Order of the Phoenix gets that it's not just the magic that makes Harry Potter so, well, magical. It's the vast cast of characters and locations as well. Sure it's a bit grimdark in places, but you're always bumping into familiar faces and stumbling down familiar corridors.
Sure we all want to cast a patronus, but that's not the key to the success of the franchise. The key is we all want to hang out with Hagrid. We all want to kick Lucius Malfoy in the crotch. We all want Hermione to patronisingly help us with our homework. It's not just about the wands, it's about who's using them and where they get them from.
Oh that's a thing
The game also always gives you something to do. You're not just following the main story, there are side-quests aplenty. And you often discover them by accident. There's a living, breathing world here, and it goes on without your intervention.
And Wizards Unite is going to want to do something similar. Sure OotP is a bit wonky in places, but with the power that modern mobile phones have, that's not going to be a problem. It's not going to be enough to find a fantastic beast while you're out and about. You're going to have to hold up your phone and lift up the veil that the wizarding world has pulled down to hide itself from us scummy muggles.