Playstation Reviews H

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Grade: C
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2002)
Reviewed: 2018/5/8
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe first Harry Potter game was a by-the-numbers affair buoyed by its low difficulty and brisk pacing. I was expecting more of the same from the Chamber of Secrets, but it's noticeably better. Locations are reused from the first game but the graphics are improved. The forests don't look nearly as fake and cool lighting effects makes the interior of the Hogwarts school look more grandiose. An orchestrated score plays throughout although it's very understated. The new autosave feature works like a charm, making the action flow a lot better.

Like the first game, Chamber of Secrets doesn't follow the film except during its static cut-scenes. Your adventure begins in the area surrounding the Weasley country house where you'll engage in several mini-games including gnome-tossing and a wizard duel. Some of these mini-games are a lot of fun! I also enjoyed the harrowing flying car ride through a train tunnel with the Hogwarts Express bearing down on me.

Certain missions pit you against strange adversaries like animated lawnmowers and possessed washing machines. The R1 button allows you to lock on during combat, but it feels erratic. When Harry casts his "Flipendo" spell it sounds like he's yelling "Nintendo!" The puzzles are easy but don't always make sense. How does placing a boulder on a stump pop a lock off a gate?! Navigating the castle is confusing because door handles and padlocks look so similar! Bad design there!

There are endless items to collect in this game including beans and wizard cards. When it comes to flying a broom, you now have the option of using reverse steering controls, which makes the quidditch stages much easier. It's like night and day really. My least favorite part of the game is when Ron gets sick and begins barfing all over the place. It actually made me feel ill! Despite that unpleasant bit, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is highly respectable, and once you start playing you may not want to stop. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Grade: C-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2001)
Reviewed: 2018/5/8
Rating: Everyone

screenshotHarry Potter video games had an amazing ten-year run, spanning three generations to culminate on the Xbox 360. This first entry looks primitive by comparison, with forests that look like hallways lined with green wallpaper. At least the game doesn't waste any time. The Sorcerer's Stone flashes a series of illustrations that gloss over Harry's origins before arriving at the Hogwarts school of magic. Once the action gets going there's rarely a lull. Harry can quickly scamper around the halls of Hogwarts and between-stage intermissions whisk him between locations.

This game is ideal for people with short attention spans. The school is rendered with elegant textures but the rooms are sparse and lack atmosphere. Still, there are some nice touches like floating candles, living portraits, and random ghosts milling about. The character models are standard for the original Playstation, with faces mapped onto angular heads. The people look only vaguely like their movie counterparts but they do sound like them. It's cool to see underused characters like Nearly Headless Nick the ghost in key roles.

The analog controls are responsive and I like the Zelda-style auto-jumps. The short missions don't really follow the film but Harry's main goal is still to elevate his Gryffindor gang over the evil house of Slytherin. There's a lot of fetching, racing, and lightweight combat. It's not hard to make progress, especially with locks literally falling off doors when you grab certain items.

One thing I struggled with were the broomstick-flying stages which lack the option for reverse steering controls. How I managed to win that quidditch match I'll never know. The loading screens are brief but where is the music in this game? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone isn't a standout title but its easy-breezy gameplay is something you can knock out in an afternoon. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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1 players 

Hooters Road Trip
Grade: D
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2001)
Reviewed: 2002/6/29
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes)

screenshotHooters Road Trip is a mediocre racing game along the lines of Outrun, but it has one killer gimmick: Winners are treated to pictures and videos of Hooter girls! Yes, this is the only game I've played where the loading screens are more compelling than the game itself! These chicks are hot!

The racing action is somewhat boring as you challenge other cars to race from city to city. The scenery is modest at best, but at least the framerate is smooth. Road Trip might have been half-way decent if not for the controls. The steering truly sucks, whether you use the analog stick or digital pad. Over-steering is the order of the day, causing your car to veer wildly around curves. It's even more frustrating when attempting to avoid oncoming traffic. You'll see a truck coming a mile away, yet will still struggle to avoid hitting it head on.

Fortunately, crashes only slow you down a bit, and it's easy to qualify for each race (finishing first is only slightly harder). Does seeing a video of four Hooter girls jumping around in bikinis make the marginal gameplay worthwhile? Well, if you're a guy the answer is probably yes. But be forewarned: You will not be playing this game for fun! © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Hot Shots Golf
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (1998)
Reviewed: 2008/5/25
Rating: Everyone


screenshotThe Hot Shots Golf series is a Playstation institution. Most golf games of the 90's strived for realism, but Hot Shots adopted a whimsical style with bright graphics and simple controls. The anime-style characters are cute and endearing, and the rolling green courses are extremely inviting. When the balls roll near the hole, the close-up shot is amazing.

Hot Shots uses a conventional three-press control scheme (popularized by EA's PGA Golf games), and it's quite responsive. Six courses are available, along with ten golfers, but you'll need to invest some time to unlock most of them. That's fine, because the action moves along at a steady clip, and the load times are minimal. Playing against a group of friends is always fun and competitive.

The background music is pleasant, and the crisp sound effects include the "whoosh" of your swing and the "tink" of the ball falling in the cup. It's possible to cue applause and voice sound effects ("Hurry up", "Nice shot") by hitting buttons when your opponent is up, and once your friends figure this out, they'll absolutely annoy the hell out of you. Hot Shot Golf has aged well because its core gameplay is good as gold. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Hot Shots Golf 2
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (2000)
Reviewed: 2008/5/25
Rating: Everyone


screenshotElectronic Arts once had the market cornered on golf games, but their emphasis on realism made their games feel slow and tedious. This left the door open for the lighthearted, cartoonish Hot Shots Golf, which dominated the market with its friendly, easy-to-play style. Hot Shots 2 is a great looking sequel, offering the same pick-up-and-play action with new characters and courses. The golfers are strictly caricatures, but many of the new characters (like the fat bald guy) are freakish and unlikeable.

The courses and physics however are quite realistic, making this game appeal to hardcore golfers and casual gamers alike. It's hard to tell the difference between Hot Shots 1 and 2 at a glance, but close examination reveals a few new bells and whistles. New visuals include amazing close-ups that reveal the ball's dimples and logo as it rotates in the air. The new camera angle of the golfer reaching into the cup to pick up his ball looks incredible.

If Hot Shots 2 has a flaw, it lies in its irritating audio effects. They really went overboard with the wind sounds, and some idiot yells "C'mon hurry up!" every ten seconds. Also, some of the Japanese-translated dialogue doesn't come across very well ("You are decent!"). I also have to take issue with the "fold-up" manual, which is difficult to open and reference. Who's idea was that anyway?? All in all, this is another great Hot Shots game, but it's a questionable upgrade if you already own the first one. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Moby Games, Gaming Age Online, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, GameFAQs.com, Playstation Museum, The ISO Zone, YouTube, Video Games Museum, Game Fabrique