It’s hard to overstate the popularity of the Harry Potter universe, both in terms of pop culture influence and global success. It’s the best-selling book series of all time, with a hefty 500+ million units sold, and the film franchise rivals properties like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars in terms of commercial success.
With over 30 different releases to date, the Wizard World has also tried to get a piece of the video game industry pie, but to mixed success. To be blunt, while there are some truly great Harry Potter games, a lot of them are pretty lame. Luckily, the best Harry Potter games offer some exceptionally magical gameplay.
The Top 5 Best Harry Potter Games of All Time
As the Hogwarts Legacy release date of February 10, 2023, draws ever closer, promising a big-budget, open-world adventure set in the Harry Potter universe, I’ve found myself reflecting on the Wizarding World games of years past. The best Harry Potter games are immersive, whimsical, and offer a pleasant variety of gameplay, while the worst are shameless cash-ins without an ounce of originality.
To celebrate the Harry Potter games that are worth playing, we’ve whittled them down to our top 5 five picks. So, if you simply can’t wait until Hogwarts Legacy comes out and you want something to tide you over, we recommend any of our picks for the best Harry Potter games.
5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) (Game Boy Color)
When it comes to games based on the first three Harry Potter films, the system you play them on can make all the difference. While most people recall the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone video game as an old-school 3D adventure game with lots of collectibles, the Game Boy Color version is a much different beast. Instead of hopping around Hogwarts picking up jellybeans, the handheld version of Philosopher’s Stone offers a top-down RPG experience complete with turn-based battles and leveling up.
While this might seem like an odd path for a Harry Potter game to take, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it, considering all the spell-casting and exploration that’s prevalent in the series. Best of all, it works better than you might expect, granting a wholly immersive and entertaining bite-sized adventure. The story also sticks much closer to the source material than the film, so fans of the books will be extra pleased. Although it’s over 20 years old at this point, this Game Boy Color adaptation still holds up, earning its spot on our list of the top 5 Harry Potter games of all time.
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
The early Harry Potter games can be a bit rough around the edges, but we have a soft spot for The Chamber of Secrets. Released on the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, this adaptation of Harry’s sophomore year at Hogwarts was a bit more refined than the first. Easy to play and packed with nostalgia, the home console version is a breezy trip through some of the series’ most iconic locations.
While you’re not dashing between classes and learning new spells, you can also roam around Hogwarts, eventually accessing side areas like the Forbidden Forest. You can also freely fly around school on your broom, a feature not available in previous games. Interestingly enough, Chamber of Secrets has three distinct versions, with the Game Boy Color, PC, and home console versions all being radically different experiences. Luckily, they’re all pretty good, regardless of your platform of choice.
3. Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (2003)
Sure, learning spells and uncovering vast conspiracies involving dark wizards is fun enough, but everyone knows the best part of Harry Potter is Quidditch. This magical sports game was released on almost every major console at the time, and fulfills every fan’s fantasy of taking their broom-riding talent from the pitch at Hogwarts to the international Quidditch World Cup.
Best of all, Quidditch World Cup doesn’t slouch in the slightest, offering fast-paced gameplay with rules that are accurate to both the movies and books. There’s a fun sense of progression as you start by winning the Hogwarts Quidditch Championship before advancing to the world stage, facing off against familiar characters like Viktor Krum. Local multiplayer is also a great way to pass some time with friends, making this spin-off one of the top 5 best Harry Potter games of all time.
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
While other Harry Potter games experimented with the free-roam format, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the first one that really nailed it. As expected, the game follows the events of the sixth Harry Potter film, as our heroic trio scours Hogwarts for information on a mysterious potions expert. While the story content only lasts a few hours and barely covers the dense narrative seen in the book and film, the plentiful mini-games and collectibles combined with an extremely immersive setting make this one of the best Harry Potter games of all time.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince contains everything you love about the franchise, including spell casting, potions, and flying on an enchanted broomstick, all contained in the expansive grounds of Hogwarts. After you breeze through the story, you’re free to roam around Hogwarts at a leisurely pace, competing in Quidditch matches, uncovering 150 hidden crests, and completing challenges. For completionists, achievement hunters, and fans who want to enjoy the day-to-day experience of attending Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is arguably the best of the bunch.
1. Lego Harry Potter Collection (2016)
The Lego Harry Potter Collection is not only the best Harry Potter game ever, but it’s also a double whammy, as it includes both LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4 and Years 5 -7. While the LEGO franchise is always great for some casual gaming, especially with a friend in local co-op, LEGO Harry Potter is a dream for any fan of the franchise. Covering the story of the entire film series across two games utterly overflowing with content, these titles contain well over 60 hours of magical gameplay to enjoy.
Combining the very best elements of every other game on this list, with the bonus of being approachable and welcoming to both new and veteran gamers alike, the Lego Harry Potter Collection is the perfect video game for any Potterhead. You can explore dozens of memorable locations from the Wizarding World, attend classes at Hogwarts, and unlock over 200 unique characters. There’s an excellent mix of action, adventure, puzzle-solving, and collectible-driven gameplay, spread across 48 story missions. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the books or movies, it’s hard not to have a blast while playing this extraordinarily imaginative gem.