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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Review - Gamecube

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The Harry Potter series has become as popular with children as Pokemon, Digimon and Tamagotchis. Back in 1996 the first Harry Potter book was released and it became an instant hit. The book's author, J.K Rowling, continued to write more books for the series and, as word spread, it began capturing an even bigger audience. And then a movie, based upon the first book, was released, racking up huge ticket sales and breaking box office records. Soon after the second movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, EA Games snapped up the license and released the tie-in game. Is it another rush job, or have EA weaved some magic of their own?

Gameplay

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is an adventure game played from the third-person perspective. Taking control of Harry, you must guide him through his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As Harry starts the year, completing various quests and learning new spells, students begin turning to stone. No one knows who is behind these dastardly deeds, but a rumour soon begins to circulate regarding the opening of the Chamber of Secrets. The Chamber of Secrets was said to be created by the founder of the Slytherin house, Salazar Slytherin, and would only be re-opened with the arrival of his heir. Once opened, it would kill all the students in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who were born from non-magical parents. Due to Harry being able to talk to snakes, a dark skill that's not very common and is usually associated with Slytherin, the students assume that Harry is the heir and therefore responsible for the petrifactions. It's up to Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, to clear his name, solve the mystery and save the school.

Moving Harry around Hogwarts is relatively simple; the left analogue-stick controls movement and the right analogue-stick controls the camera angle. As you progress through the game you'll learn new spells that can be assigned to the X, Y, and B keys - very similar to the system found in the Legend of Zelda games. Before going out on assigned quests (which are all based inside Hogwarts and its grounds) you're able to wander the school at your leisure, visiting various places such as the Library and the Griffindor Common Room, or even go outside and fly your broom. Often, however, you'll come across impassable doors or areas, which require a certain spell to be unlocked. For instance, a doorway or treasure chest that is covered in cobwebs won't be able to be opened until you obtain and cast the Incendio spell - a fire making charm - and therefore burning the cobweb away. This simple premise works surprisingly well, and due to the sheer size of Hogwarts, once you obtain a new spell you'll be exploring every nook and cranny all over again in the hope of finding new items or collectible Wizard Cards. Quidditch is brilliantly executed and relatively simple and ... (continued next page)