Hogwarts Mystery Barely Scores an Acceptable Owl.

Besides reading Harry Potter in Spanish over the holiday, I picked up Hogwarts Mystery for the first time in months and started playing again. I started the game shortly after it was released, and played regularly for a while, but it is the sort of activity I find it hard to sustain long-term.

The Pro’s:  You definitely feel immersed in the world of Hogwarts.  My character is Thelma Peterswarren, and she is currently a fourth year Ravenclaw.  She has mastered the Animagus-form of an eagle and recently learned her Patronus is a Winged Horse (the fact the the two creatures are supposed to be the same notwithstanding..)  Bill Weasley is one of her best friends, and she is not getting to know Charlie, so she wrangled an invitation to the Weasley’s for Christmas this year (via Flying Ford Anglia!). And, like me, she is just now getting to her first Quidditch game; unlike me, she immediately decided to try out for the team.

The “mystery” itself is mildly interesting…  the brother of my character, Jacob, was expelled from Hogwarts, and has since disappeared.  The disappearance is related to the mysterious “Cursed Vaults”, which the protagonist is as determined to find as Harry was the Chamber of Secrets. Between searching, she gets to hang out with friends like Rowen, Penny, Ben and Tonks, and tangle with her arch-enemy, Slytherin Merula and a nasty Professor Snape.

The downside of the game is the pacing.  The bulk of the tasks are the same, whether they are classes, side quests or special events.  Basically, you look at graphics and tap things outlined in blue. Each tap costs a point of energy, and each energy takes 4 minutes to regenerate…  so it takes over three hours to fill up; my storage gets me through maybe 1/2 to 1/3 of a task.  If you are away too long, your “stars” expire and you have to start over. So, if you are not checking in every 2-3 hours around the clock, your progress is painfully slow.  You earn coins, jewels, books, etc along the way, but it can take weeks to save up for the next thing you want to buy—  like nifty new Ravenclaw gear for your room–and any you spend there is less you have to spend on emergency energy if you come up short.  You can always pay Muggle cash to move faster, but I swore, like in Pokemon Go, I was not going to do that.

The dueling is fun if you like a good game of Rock Paper Scissors.  There are cute touches, like getting to choose the name “Fang” for Hagrid’s new puppy. There are other tidbits that may or may not be relevant:  why are Merula’s parents in Azkaban?  Why did a werewolf kill Penny’s sister?  But overall, the game is too frustrating for me to play it too often— only when I have nothing better to do.  I sometime wonder how long before I just go look up the mystery solution online.

In other news, thanks to the support of a number of Potter Pundits and friends of this blog, I am 80% to the way of my goal for the Ecuador Skillcorps 2020 team.  (ignore the strikeout, the link works!)  The Hufflepuffs are leading the way in donations, in support of Dr. Laura Crysel’s personality theory work. I have five more days of my campaign, so please help me fill the Gringott’s vault. It isn’t cursed.  You can also get my magical, house-colored shirts at my Bonfire Store, but the Make Magic variety is only available for a day or two longer.

 

A Magical Time of Year: Lumos Fun!

‘A Magical Time of Year’ is a collection of holiday music, profane and sentimental, by various Wizarding World property actors and actresses, from the well known Alison Sudol, Warwick Davis, Dan Fogler, and Ezra Miller to the folks you’d have to look up, the guy playing Ron Weasley in the London production of ‘Cursed Child.’ A pound and a few pence from every purchase goes to Lumos, and because Rowling’s Beedle the Bard was given to Lumos to cover their operating costs, all that money goes to uniting children with families.

A good deal all around, because the music for the most part is quite good. Alison Sudol’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ as you’d expect, may be the best but Kevin Guthrie’s ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’ is a keeper, too.

You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube now and then make your purchase here.

You might want to buy them one track at a time, though, lest you be subjected to Ezra Miller’s bizarro tunes, especially his work with Dan Fogler on ‘Hannukah, Oh Hannukah.’ If you wonder how these two will work out their relationship with J. K. Rowling over her #IStandWithMaya Tweet Heard Round the World, I’m right there with you!

Hanukkah, O Hanukkah from Gabriel Sunday on Vimeo.

Matyrs Crispin and Crispinian

Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

– William Shakespeare, Henry V

Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Conference

The annual peak of Potter Punditry, at least with respect to gatherings, is this weekend in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, a suburb just north of Philadelphia, where Chestnut Hill College hosts the 2019 edition of ‘The Harry Potter Conference. I am home in Oklahoma this October but Hogwarts Professor Louise Freeman is representing and presenting, not to mention moderating a panel or two, and I suspect long time friends of this weblog, David Martin, David Gras, Lorrie Kim, Lana Whited, Kathryn McDaniel, and the local group, the Potterdelphians, are there in addition to the Chestnut Hill hosts and conference co-ordinators, Karen Wendling and Patrick McCauley.

It’s a fun gathering and a great place to meet a host of like-minded and not-so-like-minded serious readers. Check it out if you’re in the area or just surf the website for the talks scheduled. Enjoy!

Hunger Games Prequel Title Announced

I’m playing frantic catch-up on my non-Harry Potter life after a wonderful but busy build-up to Queen City Mischief and Magic, highlighted by a visit and multiple talks by our own John Granger. But, I had to make a brief post to announce that the Hunger Games prequel now has a title:  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.  The cover has also been released.

We know the book will feature the Reaping for the 10th annual Games, and speculation is that we will see Mags chosen as District 4 tribute. The “Snake” in the title also suggests that a young Cornelius Snow will play a role.

Collins appears to be sticking with at least some elements that worked well in the first series books and movies, particularly the use of ballad motifs, a la The Hanging Tree and the Meadow Song. And the familiar bird-in-a circle is back, albeit a less mature-looking one, firmly encased in multiple rings and perching on a nest of thorns, in contrast to the gradual break-out of the series. 


Now would be a great time to look back on previous comments and speculate some more, while we wait for May.

Hat-tip to Mike G.