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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Something wicked this way comes...
Company: EA Games

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third novel in J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' series, is only a month or two away from release on the big screen. As with the previous two movies, EA plans to release the game version of Harry's latest adventure at Hogwarts for all three consoles, as well as the GameBoy Advance and PC.

Azkaban follows Harry to his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The book served as something of a turning point in the series, foreshadowing the dark events portrayed in the following two books, 'Goblet of Fire' and 'Order of the Phoenix'. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has escaped from the wizard's prison of Azkaban. His escape presents a problem for Harry since it is believed that Black played a role in the murder of Harry's parents and is out to finish the job. Of course, things turn out to be much, much deeper than they appear and will alter Harry's world dramatically. If previous games are any indication, fans can expect the game to follow the events of the book more closely than that of the movie.

The darker tone of the plot is reflected in the graphics. The cute, pudgy faced kids from previous games have grown up and have been replaced with a much more mature look. The new look will definitely come as a shock to some people, but so far things look great. Along with the graphics, the gameplay has also grown up a bit. While the general gameplay engine remains unchanged, players will now be able to control both Ron and Hermione as they go up against the Dementors and their Hogwarts rival, Draco Malfoy (with Crabbe and Goyle in tow). Harry will also have a full selection of spells to choose from including a grappling hook type spell. Each character will also have their own special spells and abilities that will come in handy along the way. Players will be able to rotate between the three characters on the fly, which will surely make for some interesting challenges.

Although all versions of the game will follow the same general premise (although the GBA version will follow more of a turn-based RPG structure), PS2 and Game Cube owners will have additional, exclusive features to look forward to. As if you didn't already see it coming, the Game Cube and GBA versions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will use the connectivity feature that will allow players to trade cards between the two systems as well as take care of their own virtual pet owl. PS2 owners won't be able to raise their own pet owl, but will be able to experience Hogwarts in a completely different way.

Utilizing Sony's EyeToy peripheral, players will be able to don the Sorting Hat and see which of the four houses (Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Gryffindor) they belong to. Up to four players will also be able to take part in four Mini-games. After making a chocolate mess in Chocolate Frogs, players can use Frog Swan Soap to stop Dungbombs in Zonko's Joke Shop. Player's will also have the chance to play Exploding Snap, a Hogwarts favorite, as well as hone their Seeker skills in Seeker Practice.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is set for release around the time of the movie. Look for more information on this title, as well as many more, this May in our E3 coverage.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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