Ranking Every Harry Potter Game From Worst to Best

With the announcement of Hogwarts Legacy, let's look back on the Harry Potter games that came before it and rank them from worst to best! It looks like us Potterheads are finally going to get the open-world role-playing game we’ve all dreamt of in 2021, which falls nicely into the 20th anniversary of Harry's first game, 2001’s Philosopher’s Stone.

Ranking Every Harry Potter Game From Worst to Best Cover

A total of 17 games have been released in the Harry Potter franchise for more platforms than you can fill a Room of Requirement with. This list will cover the 13 mainline console entries, from Philosopher’s Stone on the PlayStation up to 2013’s Book of Potions for the PlayStation 3. Since then, we have had three mobile games of questionable quality, and that seemed like all the Wizarding World would get until the trailer dropped for Hogwarts Legacy during the truly great PlayStation 5 showcase.

A few things to note before we start the rankings; this is my opinion and is entirely subjective. These games were a formative part of many people’s gaming journey, and I truly do see merit in all of them (well, maybe not number 14, but more on that soon). It is also important to highlight that the alternative versions of these games on other platforms are also great in their own right. The PC and PS2 versions of Philosopher’s Stone are just as fun as the PS1 version that I played, as the PS1 and Xbox versions of Chamber of Secrets differ from the PS2 version I will be covering here. Most of all, though, the Game Boy Advance games of the early entries are fantastic isometric adventures, and I highly recommend them to those who like retro gaming!

So, with all that said and done, let’s get into ranking every Harry Potter game, starting with the biggest pile of troll bogeys in the series…

14. Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsPart 1 (2010, Xbox 360 version)

Harry and Hermione battle Death Eaters as you battle with your sanity.

Harry and Hermione battle Death Eaters as you battle with your sanity.

Anyone who has seen the movie that this game is based on will know that there is very little material that can be adapted for gameplay, and blimey does it show here. Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is an atrocious game, marking the moment where publisher EA decided the only logical place to take the Potter series was into cover-based shooter territory. It kind of makes sense, seeing as the last book (and movie) ends with some explosive action. But because Part 1 is mostly set in quiet camping environments, developer EA Bright Light had to get… creative. The result? Not only the worst Potter game, or one of the worst third-person shooter games, but one of the worst games I have ever played, period.

Whether due to a flawed concept, rushed development, or both, Deathly Hallows – Part 1 has no redeeming features. Vacuous missions and empty objectives repeat over and over during the camping segments, featuring some of the worst cover-based ‘shooting’ in gaming history. Topping this disaster off, the game is so broken that ignoring every enemy and just running through the map will complete many of the levels. It is the lowest point in the entire series, the gaming equivalent of Voldemort’s awkward hug.

13. Harry Potter for Kinect (2011, Xbox 360)

“Not Kinect. Not Kinect.”

As with most games for Microsoft’s ill-fated motion sensor, there are moments of dumb fun to be had in Harry Potter for Kinect by simply messing around with its mechanics. Unfortunately, it pretty much stops there, as players make their way through a variety of mini-games that cover each of Harry’s years at Hogwarts. It is everything you would expect a wonky Xbox 360 Kinect title to be, featuring little in the way of actual gameplay, just an assortment of ways to flail around as the game struggles to do what you tell it to.

It is, however, a cut above the Kinect implementation that was in the last entry, Deathly Hallows – Part 1, which featured a dreadful bonus mode where you flick your wrist to the point of it sounding like a cement mixer while yelling “Stupify!” at your TV. For that, Harry Potter for Kinect ranks a bit higher.

12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, PlayStation 2 version)

Excuse me?

Excuse me?

This game holds the distinction of being one of the biggest gaming disappointments of my youth. After three games of exciting, wondrous Hogwarts exploration (more on those later), Goblet of Fire is so painfully worse in every regard by transitioning the series to a completely different genre that it would never touch again – the dungeon crawler. It doesn’t sound entirely out-of-place for Potter on paper, but in execution, it makes one of the most exciting entries in the book and film series into a woefully dull affair.

The switch to a distanced camera removes the series’ usual feeling of exploration; I can still recall 9-year-old me waiting for the game to return to the ‘normal’ third-person look I was used to from the previous three games. But, even when I accepted the change, the format is still done incredibly poorly. Players are expected to retrace their steps over and over thanks to the concept of collecting enough ‘Triwizard Shields’ to unlock the next level, robbing the story of its pacing all while adapting a Potter story that is beloved for its fast pacing. I somewhat admire developer EA UK’s risk, but it yielded so very, very little reward.

11. Book of Spells / 10. Book of Potions (2012, 2013, PlayStation 3)

First Spells with Wonderbook™: Book of Spells

I have put these two entries together as they effectively form two parts of a whole. After little success on Xbox’s Kinect, the franchise moved to the PS3, where the PlayStation Eye and PlayStation Move accessories fit the Wizarding World far better. The two games utilise a spellbook (called the ‘Wonderbook’) that can be read by the PlayStation Eye, while the PlayStation Move is used as a wand.

These two tangible components put Book of Spells and Potions far above the Kinect entry and, while still a gimmick, they yield some decent wizarding fun. Book of Potions is slightly better than its predecessor thanks to better interactivity with the Wonderbook, but an original story and clever concept make these two entries great for kids, even if they aren’t the best games in the series.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, Xbox 360 version)

This game lets you blow up a giant as Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe it should rank higher...

This game lets you blow up a giant as Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe it should rank higher…

Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is not a great game, and I would not question anyone who thinks it should be much lower on this list. For starters, the entire thing can be completed in about five hours (and that’s being generous), which at the time was unacceptable for a fully priced game. Enter my subjective opinion, because 14-year-old me rented this from Blockbuster (RIP) and managed to 100% it, without having to spend more than my initial rental fee. Yay!

The game continues the third-person cover shooter gameplay of Part 1 but improves upon it massively, making every spell punchier, the cover mechanics more snappy, and the pacing far better thanks to its source material being so action-heavy. I also think the way to select spells by tapping certain face button combos was actually quite intuitive. Rather than the game-freezing spell-selection wheel from Part 1, players could swap between spells quickly on the fly, adding to the fast, scrappy pace. Overall, Part 2 is unpolished and janky, but I will always defend its strengths and, if you can find it for cheap, is a fun blast of wizarding action for Potter fans.

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009, Xbox 360 version)

Back from his home world, the Planet of the Apes, Ron talks to Daniel Radcliffe and a freshly shaven Russell Brand.

Back from his home world, the Planet of the Apes, Ron talks to Daniel Radcliffe and a freshly shaven Russell Brand.

We now move into murkier territories in this ranking, as the objectively poorer games in the series have all been accounted for. If the games from number 6 onwards didn’t exist, both Half-Blood Prince and the number 7 game would be a lot higher. They aren’t bad, just not the best, in my opinion. That said, Half-Blood Prince has a great Hogwarts to explore, one of the closest recreations of the movie castle in the game series. It also has an addictive levelling-up mechanic that comes from interacting with the various objects in the world, which then spew (or should that be S.P.E.W) out tiny Wizard shields that you can pick up.

The game’s weakness is mainly its awkward presentation: environments look good, but character models look downright bizarre, with faces and body proportions warped into the uncanny valley. The game is also entirely comprised of the same three mini-games over and over, a repetition of duelling, Quidditch and potions classes. Thankfully, each is quite fun; potions, in particular, being a great addition as you add ingredients and mix a potentially disastrous brew like a cackling Cooking Mama. A middle of the road entry for the series, though not without its merits.

 

7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, Xbox 360 version)

A fully explorable Hogwarts made its welcome return.

A fully explorable Hogwarts made its welcome return.

Order of the Phoenix shot straight into my good books in 2007 as it returned the series to its free-roaming, castle exploration roots after the awful detour of Goblet of Fire. Things aren’t all exactly as they were, though, as the game’s art style shifted to align with the movies, away from the more cartoonish feel of the older titles. This will entice some fans and turn away others, but, either way, the draw of free-roaming a massive (now more accurate than ever) Hogwarts was instantly appealing.

Much like its successor Half-Blood Prince, Order of the Phoenix is a decent game in a series that has done better. Perhaps the best thing about this entry is the fun of gathering Dumbledore’s Army and harassing the cruel Dolores Umbridge and seeing Hogwarts reflect the carnage you ensue. There’s also a great addition called the ‘Room of Rewards’, where collecting ‘Discovery Points’ bags you a room full of trophies, behind-the-scenes videos and interviews. It’s a good package, let down mainly by the chore-like nature of the mission objectives, which often sees you cleaning things, moving things and replacing things as if it were designed by Molly Weasely. But, with that said, it can be just as loveable.

6. Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (2003, PlayStation 2 version)

Big up the Ravenclaw massive.

Big up the Ravenclaw massive.

With Prisoner of Azkaban set to release two years after its predecessor, EA needed to fill the 2003 gap with an original Potter game, choosing to build upon the Quidditch mini-games from the first two games and make a full title based around the magical sport.

The result is a surprisingly robust fantasy sports game, featuring a host of teams, cups and challenges. The controls can be a little sluggish, but the uniqueness of this entry makes it shine most, and it’s a shame we never saw a follow up that expanded upon its solid foundation.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001, PlayStation version)

Philosopher's Stone has you discovering legendary creatures and mythical beasts. Like PS1 Hagrid.

Philosopher’s Stone has you discovering legendary creatures and mythical beasts. Like PS1 Hagrid.

Harry’s first foray into the gaming world was met with a mixed response upon release but has since grown to live in beloved infamy. Yes, this is the game that bestowed upon us the glorious PS1 Hagrid meme, as well as every other delightfully warped version of the series’ characters. The graphics, while colourful, have aged so poorly that they have come right back around again to becoming ironic comedy gold. The gameplay is equally dated, with the awkward controls and difficulty spikes that plagued the early games of the first 3D generation.

Yet, the game still ranks quite highly. Why? Because it has an undeniable, loveable charm and a to-this-day fantastic atmosphere. Little-known UK developer Argonaut Games were given the task of being the first to bring Harry’s world to home consoles and they did an admirable job, setting up the gameplay elements to come. Sure, you have to get past the hilarious idea of Hogwarts sending its students (usually a silent, dopey Harry) on increasingly dangerous missions to pass classes, but the Zelda-lite gameplay oddly fits the world wonderfully.

It is all helped in no small part by that atmosphere I mentioned – I will never forget exploring this Hogwarts for the first time, the castle filled with mystery and, oftentimes, scares. Its music was composed by none other than The Elder Scrolls’ own Jeremy Soule, and if there was ever a rival to the movie series’ composing legend John Williams, it would be Soule. Look up Soule’s track ‘Happy Hogwarts’, and be transported to the wonder of its halls. Though the series would improve from here, Philosopher’s Stone on the PS1 is a game that transcends ‘so bad it’s good’ graphics and gameplay and remains a genuinely entertaining and atmospheric Potter experience.

4. Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (2011, Xbox 360 version)

The joke's on everyone else - Lego Voldemort is the only character in the game with a nose!

The joke’s on everyone else – Lego Voldemort is the only character in the game with a nose!

Harry’s second outing in the realm of TT Game’s beloved Lego series is not quite as good as the first but still manages to be a cut above the rest thanks to the tried-and-true Lego gameplay and some neat innovations. With the latter two films taking place outside of Hogwarts, TT Games made the decision to add other areas to the map (though at the expense of a smaller Hogwarts Castle), meaning players can explore areas like London and the campsites from the final films. As well as this, the game is built in TT’s newer, glossier engine, meaning the Lego-ified world of witches and wizards looked better than ever. Though Years 1-4 is supreme for reasons I’ll elaborate on in a bit, Years 5-7 offers polish and variety above many of the series’ other games. 

One extra point of note: the later released Lego Harry Potter Collection is not on this list as I felt it necessary to explain what made the two separate entries rank differently. The collection adds nothing new to either game, simply repackaging them together for newer consoles. Having said that though, it is easily the best way to play these two great games, especially if you own a Nintendo Switch so that they can be enjoyed on the go!

3. Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (2010, Xbox 360 version)

LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 Trailer

Now we get to the big ones, three of the most beloved instalments in the Harry Potter game series that all share the same amount of high praise. The top three were tough to choose, and I am flip-flopping between them as I write now. They are truly all as good as each other, so let’s go ahead and examine why. 

Years 1-4 is the best of the two Lego Harry Potter titles. Though it isn’t as graphically advanced as its sequel, it features a full Hogwarts Castle to explore (as well as Diagon Alley) and absolutely nails the tone of the series while adding in TT Game’s trademark humour. Years 1-4 is genuinely one of the funniest Lego games and features a terrific expansion to their formula with the inclusion of the various spells, potions and character-specific abilities. There is a truly vast amount of content here, filled to the brim with Easter eggs, secrets, playable characters and collectibles – it even has its own level creator to craft your own mini-levels, something that was strangely dropped from the sequel.

Though Years 5-7 has a bit more variety in its open world, you can’t beat the Hogwarts that Years 1-4 offers, featuring iconic locations from the films and books and adding in new areas to discover that help makes this into a massive toy box that you and a co-op partner can play in. It even has one of the best achievement and trophy lists around (“Solid Snape”, unlocked by hiding in a barrel as Snape, being an all-time favourite). Perfectly matching the Lego formula with the world of Harry Potter, Years 1-4 is one of the best in the series for players of all ages.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002, PlayStation 2 version)

This version of Hogwarts will always feel like a second home to me.

This version of Hogwarts will always feel like a second home to me.

Developer Eurocom took the basic formula of Argonaut Games’ Philosopher’s Stone and advanced it for the next console generation, creating a game that many will distinctly remember as the best. Chamber of Secrets took the first game’s principles and expanded them, letting players explore a gorgeous Hogwarts as they uncovered mysteries and collected Bertie Bott’s Beans to trade for items with Fred and George. Yes, the lesson trials got even more ridiculously perilous and the logic of the classes got Flipendo’d out the window, but each one had a distinctive atmosphere with a new spell waiting at the end of each dungeon.

Every aspect is improved from the first game: spells were varied and fun, the game looked better and played smoother, and I can’t praise the soundtrack enough. Jeremy Soule returned again and expanded upon his original score, matching it with a more incredible ambiance. I’m sure, so many gamers still have haunting memories of trying to find the ‘Hogwarts: A History’ book – a section of the game that requires you to explore the castle library at night, with screeching ghouls popping out of the bookshelves. It’s proper childhood nightmare fuel, and it’s great. Without a doubt, Chamber of Secrets was, and still is, some of Wizarding World gaming at its best.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, PlayStation 2 version)

When I read the books, I see this entrance hall.

When I read the books, I see this entrance hall.

Though a bit shorter than Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban expanded every other area of the game to fantastic effect and holds the distinction of being one of my favourite games of all time. Now, players can switch freely between playing as Harry, Ron and Hermione, meaning new gameplay mechanics are introduced as you work with your AI partners. Running around the open world with the three together means that this game finally embraces one of the core dynamics of the series that so many of us love: the trio’s friendship. Memories of them commenting on my discoveries as we explored an even grander and more detailed Hogwarts will never leave my mind.

The series stalwarts up to this point remain, like spell combat (now even more varied thanks to each character mastering different spells), exploration, puzzle-solving, creepy stealth and that pitch-perfect atmosphere. But it didn’t stop there. Players now had access to Buckbeak the Hippogriff, and upon completing the game, could find the winged creature waiting at Hagrid’s Hut, ready to take us to the skies. Azkaban allowed players to fly around the entire castle exterior on Buckbeak’s back, a video game unlockable that remains as one of the most rewarding and exciting I’ve ever earned. Getting to soar in the skies and see the castle from a whole new perspective was mesmerising when I was a kid, discovering chests and other secrets hidden in areas inaccessible without Buckbeak.

A formative gaming moment for me!

A formative gaming moment for me!

Though the PS2 version wins out by having a fun little EyeToy expansion, each console version of the game is the same and looks gorgeous (especially on the original Xbox). As one of the later titles of that generation, Azkaban benefits from having the best graphics of the older games. Characters are a perfect mix between being slightly cartoonish yet resembling their film counterparts. Hogwarts castle feels warm and inviting, homely and varied. The game’s lesson quests are all exciting mini-adventures inside the main story, which itself takes a few surprising detours along the way to keep fans invested. Azkaban even features various seasons, allowing players to spend a perfect Christmas at Hogwarts but also make a terrifying, icy trip to the Shrieking Shack. Composing for the series one last time, Jeremy Soule crafts yet another phenomenal score, with an astonishing main title theme. It’s one of the first pieces of music that comes to my head when I think Harry Potter, right next to John Williams’ iconic ‘Hedwig’s Theme’.

Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite Harry Potter game, the benchmark that struck me in 2004 and has stayed with me ever since. In my mind, it’s the game that solidified the Wizarding World’s potential for video game greatness. I can’t wait to see what Avalanche Studios has in store for us with Hogwarts Legacy – thankfully, we’ve had some good news on the game already. If they can nail the world, the music and the gameplay, perhaps these top three games may finally have another contender.

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