“Harry Potter” is a series dictated by the most popular console. First, PS One. Then, PlayStation 2. For a while, Xbox 360. But now, Wii has taken over.
Making Wii the lead platform was the first decision that “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” executive producer Jonathan Bunney made when approaching the latest Wizard game.
“We made that decision from day one,” he told me last week. “We did, I think, a good job with the Wii last year, but we’re doing a great job this year. Because this is where the casual audience is, the mass audience is here. It’s a great control system, but you’ve got to learn to use it.”
EA wants as many people as possible playing their “Harry Potter” games and Bunney saw the traditional control scheme as an obstacle for many users.
“I think the biggest learning we had this year is that you port your controls up as opposed to down,” he said. Bunney explained how EA had to reverse their traditional thinking. One of the biggest complaints lodged against multi-platform game on Wii is a sense motion controls were tacked on.
Not only does Bunney want to avoid that problem, but believes casual players will be naturally drawn to the Wii version because of its pick-up-and-play nature.
“We lived where somehow L2 means hit someone on the head,” he said. “That makes zero sense [to a casual player]. But if I asked, ’How do you do it on the Wii?’ [performs a simple motion gesture] That makes sense.
Outside of the controls, moving their development mindset to the Wii allowed them to focus on making the game look as good as possible. “I’m really proud of how it looks. It does not look like a Wii game to me,” said Bunney. “There’s no excuse to not having the Wii version looking great.”
Bunney is right, too. “Half-Blood Prince” looks miles better than “Goblet of Fire” did on Wii. And with signs pointing to a delay because of the film’s move to next summer, they’ll have a chance to polish the title even more.
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