[Intro music begins]
Andrew: Looking to start your own website? The first thing you need is a domain name, and the best place to get one is at GoDaddy.com. With your domain registration you'll get hosting, a free blog, complete e-mail, and much more. Plus, as a MuggleCast listener, enter code Ron, that's R-O-N, when you check out and get your dot com domain name for just $7.49 a year. Get your piece of the internet at GoDaddy.com!
["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Jim Dale: [as Professor McGonagall] This is Professor McGonagall welcoming you all to MuggleCast hoping you enjoy - Dobby! Dobby, come here! Here! Dobby! [as Dobby] Yes, I'd just like to say how very pleased I am to introduce MuggleCast to all of you! Thank you! Thank you!
[Show music begins]
Micah: Because the Crookshanks versus Scabbers battles have begun, this is MuggleCast Episode 192 for February 18th, 2010.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: Welcome everyone to Episode 192. We're approaching - I was doing the math the other day and it looks like we're going to be hitting Episode 200 in late May or early June, or maybe mid-June, I can't remember. But it's very exciting. 200 episodes.
Andrew: As you think back on all that transcript work for 200 episodes.
Micah: That's true - very true. Do you think we'll get a trailer before that?
Andrew: Oh, I hope so.
Andrew: Oh, geez, I hope so!
[Andrew, Eric, and Micah laugh]
Andrew: But, yeah, I was - there's not going to be anything big unless they release a trailer around that time, but we'll have to make sure Episode 200 is one big bonanza.
Eric: So, what you're saying Andrew, is that we're going to London?
Andrew: [laughs] I - yes - sure. No.
Eric: Because we did London for the first hundred.
Andrew: Right, right. Yeah, the hundred - Episode 100 was in London for the release of Deathly Hallows. That worked out perfectly.
Eric: It did. It really did.
Andrew: Nothing can top that I don't think.
Andrew: But anyway, first we need to get through eight more episodes including this one. There's - there hasn't been much news, but we have plenty of e-mails to go through, and of course, Chapter-by-Chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban and all that good other stuff that you've come to know and love. I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: I'm Eric Scull.
Micah: I'm Micah Tannenbaum.
Nick: And I'm Nick Myers.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: All right Micah, what's in the news this week? It's a Lego news episode, isn't it?
Micah: It is a Lego news episode. There hasn't been much going on as you mentioned, and I figured we'd just take a little bit of time here to talk about Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and the question I wanted to pose, because we've gotten a lot of screenshots lately - the producer of the game just recently did another interview and actually today the cover art for the game was officially released. Do you guys think this is shaping up to be the best Potter video game?
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Andrew: That's a bold statement. I mean there have been so many classics in the past.
Micah: There have not been.
[Andrew and Micah laugh]
Nick: It's certainly shaping up to be the funnest Harry Potter game for sure.
Andrew: Yeah. There's a lot - and I know we say this for all the EA games - they do the games for each film, but they seem to really be putting a lot of care in this and all the videos look great. I was a big fan of the original Lego Harry Potter. This one looks great too, so, yeah, I think it could be one of the best ones.
Micah: Eric, I know you're a big Lego video game fan.
Eric: Yeah, yeah definitely. I'm a fan of it. Everything I've been reading about the Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 game just seems really awesome and, of course, this cover art just makes it look even cooler.
Andrew: Yeah, it's really well done.
Eric: It definitely wins the cover art competition for me, compared to other Harry Potter video games.
Eric: Yeah, I think it's going to be - the Lego games have a sort of humor to them that just works really well in a lot of ways and it's going to work just as well with early Harry Potter. I think it'll be a great game.
Eric: And the fact that they've had practice with two renditions of the Star Wars, two renditions of Indiana Jones, Batman, and a few others that are in the works - it's great that they've waited a little while to get into Harry Potter, but the Lego Harry Potter set is a thriving area of Lego's company and so it's great to see that they, with TY Games, has worked on this rendition.
Micah: Yeah. It seems like a lot more care has been put into this game and I don't mean to knock the games that have come from Electronic Arts because they did an amazing job with Hogwarts and the surrounding areas, but I think the biggest problem...
Andrew: But it ends there.
Eric: [laughs] Yeah.
Micah: Yeah, but the biggest problem people have had with the games is the actual gameplay and there not being enough to do...
[dog barks in the background]
Micah: ...as somebody's dog points out...
Eric: Sorry. [laughs]
Micah: ...that they agree - no, your dog agrees which is - that's a very good thing. [laughs] And I just - I'm hoping that although this seems, in practice, like a more childlike game, meaning that it's geared more for younger people, our age group may be able to enjoy it more than the EA games because I actually thought that as much as the EA games look like more adult games, they are actually geared more towards children.
Andrew: Yeah, and I mean look where we are in terms of technology these days. I think this game is going to look beautiful on Hi-Def televisions and especially with systems like the PS3 and th Xbox 360. I mean, I'm looking forward to just the graphic quality on these as well.
Eric: Yeah, and like you were saying about gameplay too, Order of the Phoenix, for instance, had a great roaming Hogwarts, that we read the interviews months before the game came out and we were like, "Oh wow, fully immersive Hogwarts!"
Andrew: [laughs] Yeah.
Eric: And it pretty much - it did, it was pretty big for an environment, but you really couldn't do anything with it.
Eric: And this Lego game is promising to - you can rebuild parts of Hogwarts and destroy them and all that stuff.
Eric: And that just sounds totally awesome. So no crevice in the game will go untouched.
Andrew: I have a PS3 that I bought primarily for the Blu-ray capabilities and this will be probably the first video game that I buy for it [laughs] having had the PS3 for close to two years now.
Andrew: Because it's a game that actually looks worth it. And I'm just really excited for the quality - the visual quality - that you're going to get. The trailer - it's just very animated - it just looks great. It looks great.
Micah: Yeah, the detail as I said is just amazing and I like how the producer pointed out that if you're in Year 1 you're not able to access everything around the castle - certain parts of it are locked off - or even other areas that they've developed - not just Hogwarts specifically, but - and also that you need to actually travel from one place to another. It's not going to be like EA where you get these cut scenes and all of a sudden you end up somewhere else. You have to work your way through the years.
Nick: Not only that, but the fact that the characters can grow throughout the game and you're not given all the spells at the start to practice with and then use throughout like you are with EA games. With this one you'll learn them and grow throughout the year and that's fantastic.
Andrew: Yeah, that is definitely cool. We got some Twitter - we got some feedback from you guys via Twitter. We asked you on our Twitter account at Twitter.com/MuggleCast. We asked, "Do you think that this game is turning out to be the best Harry Potter video game?" APGB said:
"I love the fact you'll be able to play as over 100 unlockable characters - even Fang."
That's really cool.
Nick: That's amazing.
Eric: That's been a staple of the Lego games though - play as literally that many characters. Like especially Star Wars - everyone - every character even non-play characters - they call them guards and all sorts of soldiers that are in the background of certain cut-scenes and levels are all programmed so you can end up playing as them, especially in free play mode. But playing as Fang and everything - each of the characters have their own skill set, especially in Indiana Jones in particular - and there was an article where they said - they would reference something similar to that - where each of these a hundred characters are going to have a different set of skills and abilities even if it's just jumping higher, that's going to help you choose which character you're going to be roaming Hogwarts.
Andrew: Right, right. And there was a video demonstration the other day of how they're designing Quidditch. And it's that same exact thing where Harry is the best person to use for flying around on brooms. And they demonstrated how Ron and Hermione had sort of - they struggle with controlling their brooms and climbing aboard it - so that's the kind of detail that I think we're all looking forward to.
Eric: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: But FlizLovesKon writes:
"The game looks excellent. I love the way I can revisit the books in gaming format with the added bonus of the Lego theme."
"The previews look good, but do you think that they will have two games for the seventh book because the movie is in two parts?"
Nick: I don't think so, personally. I think they'll do a 5-7 one as well.
Nick: I mean, for me personally one of my problems with the EA games is that the storytelling is actually quite short and the game doesn't last very long - it's only the mini quests and adventures that pad it out and I think one of the things that's going to be good about this Lego game is that it encompasses four whole years and they can add a lot more to the length of the game.
Andrew: Well, also, a possible Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 would - I think would directly ride on how well Years 1-4 do.
Andrew: Like, you know, in terms of sales and in terms of reviews. You know, if it gets great reviews and great sales they'll definitely go for 5-7.
Eric: And it - it was...
Andrew: So let's hope it does well.
Eric: It was really clever and, you know, I almost want to say insightful that they - they stopped, you know, with Years 1-4, that they focused on essentially half the series.
Eric: Because I mean after - these games - what I want to say is these games have this level selection and main menu kind of world in and of itself, be it like in Star Wars it was the cantina and in Indiana Jones it was Cambridge where you just - you can walk around and that has its own game play almost as well. And thinking about Years 1-4, you know, I can't wait and what you said about certain parts of Hogwarts being locked off. You know, as a level select area there's no better place than Hogwarts but Years 5-7, especially 7, takes place, you know, really far away from Hogwarts so they're going to have to re-evaluate how they do that for that - that section of the gaming. You know, because a lot of the books start taking place elsewhere and important areas that we're going to want to play in but - they can revisit - they can cross that bridge when they come to it essentially because they just have Years 1-4 and it's - they're all set at Hogwarts and they're all going to be lots of fun.
Andrew: maritza_cardona writes:
"The visuals seem great and the comedic moments actually made me smile. This one looks better than the first HP games released."
Prior, I guess she means.
Micah: Absolutely, yeah. I think we all touched on that.
Micah: That we agree this is better than EA.
Andrew: Finally, AndrewNH writes:
"I think they are awesome. So much more like the books and I hope it's an open world like the other Lego Harry Potter - like the other Lego games. And it will be so fun."
So there you go. Some feedback from those of you who follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/MuggleCast. Thanks for the feedback! In other news Micah?
Micah: Well, I just wanted to mention - since we're on the topic of video games...
Micah: ...didn't EA - no? Didn't do anything?
Andrew: I said onward! Onward! Yah! Yah! No, go ahead. [laughs]
Micah: No, this is important though...
Andrew: Go ahead, you're right.
Micah: ...for the people who love the boring EA games that...
Andrew: [laughs] Ouch.
Micah: ...Electronic Arts announced that there's going to be a Harry Potter title that's going to be released this fall and...
Micah: ...I'm just kind of wondering though, are they going to break the game up in two? Because that would just be the end...
Andrew: I think so. [laughs]
Micah: They don't have a choice I guess because they use so many cut scenes from the movies and they're very movie based as opposed to book based, but...
Micah: I can't see the sales for that video game doing very well.
Andrew: Well, I think that's the thing, like, if they don't release a video game - a Harry Potter title this year, they would have to wait for Part II. They can't release an entire video game for Part I and Part II this fall, because it would spoil the second half of the movie. So, they got to - I think they see it as a money making opportunity. Even though, I officially have lost faith in EA's Harry Potter video games. I mean, I know they care so much and they're such a good team of people. We've met them and interviewed them, they're so nice, but I guess the Harry Potter games just aren't meant to be built how they are building them because they really don't work.
Micah: No, they don't. I think they should've developed them more as a role-playing game, kind of similar to Legend of Zelda, where you...
Micah: ...have that free roaming ability. I mean you do, but it's still restricted, like if you play these past video games - you know, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, you can move around Hogwarts and you can kind of go to the outlying grounds, but you can't get into Hogsmeade, you can't go to other places and travel around, you know, Diagon Alley or - I don't know, pick a place. But the point is that they really screwed up I think. Not in their design because again, what they did with Hogwarts was unbelievable in how they created it in the video game sense, but just the game-play aspect of it failed so miserably.
Andrew: Yeah. On the other hand, maybe EA could surprise us and release an entirely new game! Like a new Quidditch game, that would be good! Quidditch World Cup! That was a good game.
Eric: And it was totally - and that seemed to have the least direct influence from a movie or anything. I mean, they basically took Jo's world and they fleshed it out and - playing that game in Tokyo, for instance...
Eric: It's a beautiful stadium, and you get to play in the sunset. Just amazing visuals, great game-play all around, and it wasn't an easy fix, you know. You had to go around and play as all the different teams and win the World Cup with them. So it was long playing. You know, it was just a really smart idea.
Andrew: It was fun. So maybe they'll do a new unique idea like that. But, who knows? We'll just have to wait and see. Even though my money's still on Deathly Hallows: Part I, the video game being released. "Run through the forest! Press A! Press A!
Andrew: "Zoom around that tree!"
Micah: So wrapping up the Lego news, there was a press release last week that six new Harry Potter construction sets and a Lego Harry Potter board game are going to be released later on this year, in the fall.
Andrew: I've always been a fan of the Lego construction...
Andrew: Hey, don't laugh! This is serious!
Andrew: I've always been a fan of the Lego construction sets and they tend to be kind of expensive, so I may not buy one, but they're fun!
Nick: Did you see the video though?
Andrew: Huh? Oh, of the board game?
Nick: It doesn't even look anything like...
Nick: ...anything related to the series.
Andrew: The board game they're building does not look good. But the construction sets look cool! [laughs] And I got to say, those old - you know, they had made a castle close to ten years ago now as a construction set, and that thing is worth a lot of money now.
Eric: Is it?
Andrew: Those things, if you have an original, yeah. My dad bought one and sold it on eBay for like, $300.
Andrew: [laughing] Yeah! So, I was like, "Dad, why didn't you give it to me?" And he was like, "Quiet son! Back to the cupboard!"
[Nick, Micah and Eric laugh]
Andrew: But, yeah I'm looking - is anyone else excited for these construction sets?
Eric: Yeah. Yeah.
Nick: [laughing] That was a no.
Eric: Well, I mean like - and it looks like the Burrow and stuff, the're getting - they're getting creative again, you know? And it's not just the graveyard set where it's like, you know, maybe a few characters or so, but mostly nothing in - you know, it's probably difficult to come up with these construction sets. There are so many places in Harry's world, but they're so huge. Like the Ministry of Magic, you just don't want to not do them justice. But yeah, I think they got their little creative edge back.
Andrew: Right, right. Anything else in the news, Micah?
Micah: No, that is it. Lego news.
Andrew: Well, we should also say "Happy Birthday" to Emerson Spartz, the webmaster and founder of MuggleNet. He turns 23 - he turned 23 on February 17th so Happy Birthday to him.
Eric: Happy Birthday Emerson.
Andrew: Sorry, I don't have a song prepared...
Micah: Yeah, I was waiting for...
Andrew: ...I just wanted to say that.
Micah: ...something to play there.
Andrew: No, but...
Micah: We can all sing if we want. But, I would advise against that.
Andrew: [sings] "Happy Birthday, to you."
Eric: [sings] "To you."
Andrew: Okay, well, before we get to Muggle Mail this week, we have a couple of e-mails about that J.K. - that negative J.K. Rowling e-mail that we read on the show last week. We got a lot of feedback but we just have two e-mails here. Nick, do you want to read the first one from Brittany?
Nick: Sure. This is from Brittany who's 14 and from Ohio and she writes:
"After listening to Anna's letter last episode, which was highly critical, I feel I must disagree with her strongly on one point in particular. She says Harry Potter is nothing more than a staggeringly popular book for children. Well then, how did it get so popular? When she was reading the series, did she understand the emotional depths, powerful themes, and meaningful morals in it? Or did she just read it looking for nothing but pleasure reading and taking in no knowledge whatsoever? This book is not popular because it is merely an enjoyable children's book. Incidentally, it is not just for children either. It is popular because of the themes of love, grief and trust. Can you get that in a video game? I encourage readers of Harry Potter to look deeper, as the MuggleCasters have always done so well and not judge based on popularity."
Andrew: I actually do think that's one of the things thats harmed Harry Potter. You know, an outsider - outsiders look at Harry Potter and say, "Oh, it's just popular because it's popular. It's just in right now. It's sort of the thing." But, as Brittany brings up, how did it get so popular? And it's because of how well written these books are. It wasn't - I really don't think it was sort of like trend, you know, people genuinely enjoy the books.
Eric: Yeah, the world and the books is just unmatched, really it is. And as we go through, I know my chapter of Chapter-by-Chapter this week. We'll just see how crafty, you know, Jo was in these early Harry Potter novels and establishing just how deep her world is and the characters are just really relatable.
Eric: And completely...
Nick: It's unfair to cheapen the series as a fad I think.
Eric: Yeah. Absolutely. Do that with Twilight if you want, I agree with you, but...
Micah: I don't think that we spent 192 episodes on nothing either. Thats the other side of it.
Micah: There have been shows that we've really gotten deep into things and one of them would be the politics show that we spent just I think close to two hours discussing the...
Micah: Yeah, yeah, I didn't know what other word to use, but we really did spend a lot of time discussing that, and we've broken down characters, we've had analysis of a lot of them, devoted shows just to certain characters, so I don't think that it's a child's book - I don't think you can do that with, you know, the Mother Goose stories, where you can break down [laughs] characters to the depth that we've done, or look at the symbolism in those stories as much as you can with a series like this.
Andrew: Yeah. I think you're right. There's no way we could do a podcast, like Micah said at the beginning of that, for one hundred and ninety-two episodes - like there's just no other book series that I know of - maybe Lord of the Rings, although I've never read it. Well, let's move on now to Muggle Mail. The first e-mail comes from Aaron, nineteen, of Sydney, Austrailia. He says:
"I'm up to the bit where you guys are talking about the Weasley's winnings and their trip in Episode 191. I think it was not a case of money mismanagement, and I don't think they should be penalized for spending it the way they did. The Weasleys have lived like this forever, and they're comfortable with it. They don't want any Malfoy mansion. The Burrow is their mansion. They're proud of who they are. Anyway who says investing money to get more money is wise? I think spending the money on the family trip would have brought them much more joy than any amount of money, not to mention all the memories they now have."
Andrew: It's a good point...
Micah: Are these the same people that wrote in about how the Weasleys were mismanaging their money? Now all of a sudden we criticize them and these same people are writing back [laughs] to criticize us? I mean, I know the biggest thing we left out when we discussed it on our last show, was that they were going to visit Bill. And that was their primary reason for the trip.
Nick: You were all kind of harsh last episode.
Andrew: Well what's your opinion of it, Nick?
Nick: They should just invest in banks, and...
Nick: ...I think that was the conclusion?
Nick: It's the last time they all got to spend time together as a family before later in the series when half of them die. I think it was a good thing to do, they came across a windfall of unexpected cash, they had lived acceptably before they had it, and yeah. I can't blame them.
Andrew: Yeah. I don't know - I just - maybe I was wrong when I said that we always hear them complaining about money, because they really don't in the books...
Andrew: ...but they do, sort of allude - we do see hints of - J.K. Rowling drops ideas to us of how poor they are, and maybe Aaron's right. Maybe they enjoy living that way. And that's fine. And I'm glad they went on a vacation and had a great time.
Micah: It couldn't have cost that much money, though, if you think about it. I mean, they don't travel by air.
Eric: With seven kids? Oh, yeah. You're right.
Micah: And they probably have a place to stay with Bill...
Eric: Or a tent. [laughs]
Micah: So, they probably didn't spend a whole lot of it on the trip. But I would say we got fifty e-mails alone just on this, and how horrible...
Andrew: People are very passionate.
Micah: ...of people we are...
[Andrew and Nick laugh]
Micah: ...to be criticizing the Weasleys.
Eric: well, you picked a strong e-mail, I mean, I think that this e-mail is very strong, and not offensive in any way. But it gets to the point. So that's really good.
Nick: I was just wondering, it's not cleared up in the books, but can't they just like Floo Powder themselves to Egypt, and then just...
Andrew: You would think so.
Nick: I can't imagine the cost being that much anyways.
Andrew: True. Or use a Portkey.
Andrew: Nick, can you read the next e-mail for us please?
Nick: Sure. Next e-mail is from Aaron, who's 17 and from New Zealand.
"In Episode 191, you were discussing why Harry didn't stay away from Marge, why Vernon doesn't stop him being near Marge. Well, the answer is actually in the book. I didn't see how any of you didn't pick up on this when you just read those chapters."
And he quotes the books, and it says:
"Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia usually encouraged Harry to stay out of their way, which Harry was only too happy to do. Aunt Marge, on the other hand, wanted Harry under her eye at all times, so that she could boom out suggestions for his improvement."
Andrew: I'd like to say that I did know about this and I tried to bring it up, but I think we sort of got sidetracked. My point was that Uncle Vernon should have stepped in and overpowered Aunt Marge, since he knew what Harry could do if he was pushed. So therefore, it was his responsibility to take action. We knew that Aunt Marge wanted Harry there, but Uncle Vernon should have said, "No, he has to stay up in his room. Sorry." And just leave it at that.
Nick: I think Uncle Vernon is under the hierarchy of people now, isn't he? He was kind of...
Andrew: It is what in the hierarchy, sorry?
Nick: Lower down. I think Aunt Marge - what she says goes.
Andrew: I guess so. I mean, that is pretty sad if it's true.
Eric: [laughs] Vernon is kind of submissive there.
Andrew: Eric, you want to take the next e-mail?
Click here to go to page two