Abarcy

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The world of Harry Potter is detailed, fun-loving and energetic. So Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban lends itself naturally to a number of After School EyeToy games.

In these games there is a choice between Practice, in which you can play one minigame at a time, or regular Play. In Play you can do all six games one after the other, and players begin by being assigned a house by the Sorting Hat. Another typical Harry Potter touch is the ghosts who occasionally interrupt the games and have to be shouted at before they will go away. As you might imagine, these are boisterous and noisy games.

Gobstones involves smashing as many flying gobstones as possible, whilst avoiding the spiky balls. Almost identical to this game is Zonko's Joke Shop, which is a matter of making as much mess as possible by breaking dungbombs whilst avoiding bars of soap. Chocolate Frogs also involves clapping, and again the aim is to splat as many as possible.

Timing is important in the De-Gnoming, and the aim here is to clear the garden of gnomes by hitting them a good distance. Whereas with Exploding Snap you need a quick eye for some rapid card-matching. In Seeker Practice you find yourself chasing the Golden Snitch, and this is one of the better uses of the EyeToy. The snitch darts around furiously, and it's as close to the feeling of really playing quidditch as is likely to be available for some time.

Filch is also liable to set you chores, which means polishing moving objects. There are high scores at the end of each round, but unfortunately there is no overall high score board for these games that can be saved to memory. There are just two difficulties, normal and hard, and overall the games are easy enough for the target age group to enjoy. The EyeToy games integrate well with the world of Harry Potter, although a little more variety in the types of games would improve The Prisoner of Azkaban's After School activities. Half of the minigames involve clapping, so players can end up with sore hands after a few rounds.

The main game follows the storyline of the film and the book, but runs parallel to them so that fans will not be watching scenes that they already know well enough already. A lot of the gameplay is puzzle-based. You play as Harry, Ron or Hermione, and you must learn to use their individual strengths and work as a team in order to complete the challenges.

After visiting Fred and George players are given side-quests such as collecting beans or dropping stink pellets around the school. One of the drawback to working as a team, however, is that the other two characters will moan at you if you take the time to complete these quests. Although these side-quests are a little too repetitive, the opportunity to explore Hogwarts and its grounds is one of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's best features.

This game will keep Harry Potter fans occupied and content, in spite of a few minor improvements that could be made. The EyeToy component is also attractive, fun and well-realised. It's greatest problem is the tendency to focus too much on clapping games.