In this series I will go over all the games I remember playing as a kid on my Gamecube. Some were good, but most were bad, but all of them have a special place in my heart.
My childhood was dominated by sports and Harry Potter. I love baseball and when I was a kid, that’s all I ever really wanted to do or talk about. If I wasn’t able to talk about baseball, I would resort to gushing about Harry Potter, the characters within it, spells, creatures, and most of all Quidditch. I loved the idea of a wizard school having a high flying wacky sport with metal balls and broomsticks, and I really wanted to fly and play Quidditch.
That opportunity would come in EA’s Quidditch World Cup, a game I played a lot when I first got it for my birthday. I was able to play as all of my favorite Quidditch players like Oliver Wood, the Weasley twins and Harry Potter. I could also play as any of the other Hogwarts houses and play as the characters from them too. This was a dream of mine. I was itching to score the Quaffle, send bludgers at people, and finally catch the snitch.
This game barely gives you any child-like giddiness or wonder as you take control of the characters. The character models are all very lifeless and fish-eyed, that trying to see yourself as that character is quite difficult. The biggest issue is the gameplay, and how EA decided to make the silly sport playable. The majority of a match of Quidditch consists of chasers tackling other chasers to get the Quaffle and score. This really takes out the magic of trying to avoid bludgers and other chasers, as bludgers and beaters are only used as tools to attack the other player on command. The best thing about the bludgers in the books and movies is that they are unpredictable, and when you attain the bludger power, the novelty of the in game wild card is stripped away in favor of a defensive tool that could be replaced with tackling. There are also special moves in the game that are also replacements for tackling. Hold the B button and steer the hurricane icon over the other player for you to retain possession of the Quaffle in a very over the top and cheesy move that is more spectacle than practical.
When it comes to the golden snitch, the same problem in the books and movies is very prevalent in the game, which is catching the golden snitch is worth 150 points and ends the game. 150 points is a lot of point considering 150 points is the same as 15 Quaffle goals. There are times where the Quaffle game is very close and both teams are back and forth and the snitch is “found” and your control is solely on the seeker. The team gets “snitch meter” which pushes one half of the golden snitch at the top of your screen to the other teams half. When the two halves make the snitch, the seeker is able to use the energy built up over the course of the match and boost themselves to the snitch, which is leaving a trail for the player to follow. The problem is that this boost hardly does what it is supposed to do and 9/10 times the player will catch the snitch any way, making the boost mechanism irrelevant.
When playing this game, most players will catch onto the mechanics of the game easily and will run the score up against your opponent without much opposition and making the snitch meter on your side grow rapidly, while the opponents does not. When you are kicking the crap out of the other team, they decide to pull out the team special move that they were awarded by doing combos (holding down L or R while passing or shooting) and that team special move takes away a third of the progress you made on the snitch meter, making the player work back up to that point that they once had. It makes the player not want to use their own team special move to avoid making the match any longer.
While this game has some serious flaws, there are a good number of positive things that I can say about the game. For starters, all of the Quidditch fields and stadiums that the player can play on are incredibly unique and vibrant, representing their home nations well. The art design for these stadiums is very cool to see. For example, Japan’s home stadium is over a pond with cherry blossoms surrounding the stadium and Australia’s stadium is in a canyon in the outback, where didgeridoos play after every goal. Another good thing is the music. The music that plays while the match is going is very grand and epic, making all of the goals the player scores seem more grand than they actually are. The voice acting is very over the top and incredibly laughable as none of the movie actors lend their voice to this game, but the replacements try way too hard to give life to the dead-eyed character models they are trying to represent.
In my opinion the positives barely outweigh the negatives. Yes, there are a lot of gameplay mechanics that feel unnecessary and make the game of Quidditch far less exciting than it should be, but the stadiums and music push the boring gameplay to tolerable instead of insufferable.
My GameCube Library will take a brief hiatus in the next couple of weeks due to me going to and interviewing people from Denver Pop Culture Con. Stay tuned for all of those things, but My GameCube Libray will be back when we jump on a skateboard and roll into the World of Disney.