Like so many Harry Potter fans, I’ve dreamed of attending Hogwarts and learning magic with a wand, cauldron and bulging bag full of quills, ink and parchment. In the absence of real witchcraft and wizardry, I’ve visited movie sets and played countless video games of varying quality. While fun, none of these experiences capture the thrill of actually understanding and performing magic. There’s a thrill, of course, to summoning a Patronus with a DualShock 4 controller. These spells rarely feels earned, however, because they don’t require much practice or knowledge to pull off in-game.
That’s why I was intrigued by the Harry Potter coding kit developed by Kano. The app forces you to construct each spell with logic-based pieces before waving a plastic wand in the air. It’s not the same, of course, as the classes depicted in J.K. Rowling’s award-winning books. But the process provides a similar sense of learning and satisfaction when you can finally wave your hand through the air and explode a box of chocolate frogs.
Kano’s companion app works with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. You use this to create a cartoon-ish avatar and explore a map-like overworld. I know what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not the Marauder’s Map. Kano’s version lacks the detail of the iconic Harry Potter parchment, such as the moving character footprints and magically complicated paper folds. While a tad disappointing, the map uses a clean and consistent art style to depict memorable buildings such as Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, The Great Hall and the Forbidden Forest. Everything is also labeled in case you don’t recognize Flourish and Blotts or The Daily Prophet’s offices.
The plastic wand connects to your PC, laptop or tablet over Bluetooth. It contains a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer that track its movement in 3D space. The ‘tip’ of the wand appears as a cursor inside the app — a little like pointing an old Wiimote or Switch Joy-Con at your TV.