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The first book in the epic Harry Potter saga spawned a hugely successful movie and predictably, this video game tie in. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone (or Harry Potter (TM) and the Philosophers Stone (TM) / Sorcerers Stone (TM) as EA (TM) would have us call it) received only mixed reviews from the muggles. Fans of Harry Potter and all things wizardry and witchcraft remember the game much more fondly however.
The game should install without any difficulties on a modern PC. Simply place the CD into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts. If the games installer does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Autorun.exe” file manually.
Running the game
The main obstacle to running this game on a modern PC is the games copy protection. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone uses SafeDisc copy protection, which is unfortunately incompatible with Windows 10 (and Windows 7 and 8 with Windows update 3086255 installed). To work around this problem in Windows 7 or 8, you can try temporarily re-enabling the secdrv service by following this Microsoft article.
Alternatively, you can simply uninstall Windows update number 3086255, though doing so may arguably make your computer more vulnerable to security threats.
The final option (and the only option for Windows 10 users) is to find a cracked/hacked version of the game with the copy protection removed. This does mean trawling the shadier parts of the internet and regrettably we cannot link to such files here, even for old games. The cracked executable file we used had an MD5 value of DEDA3278D2A328D244832976B719B382.
Once you’ve worked around the copy protection issues, you need to make one more change before the game will run on most modern PCs. Download and install the dgVoodoo2 package into the games directory. Harry Potter is a DirectX game, so copy the dgVoodoo2 DLL files from the MS sub folder. You should copy these files into the “System” sub folder within the “Harry Potter TM” game folder. The default location of this directory is “C:\Program Files (x86)\EA Games\Harry Potter TM\System”. If you need a full tutorial on using dgVoodoo2, click here.
With these two issues resolved, you can now go ahead and start the game. Sometimes when you start the game (though strangely, not always) you will see a “First-Time Configuration” window. This window will let you choose between “Direct3D Support” and “Software Rendering”. The weird thing here is, if you choose “Direct3D Support”, the game actually seems to start in software mode and will crash if put into full-screen mode. So choose “Software Rendering”. In the dgVoodoo2 configuration program you can turn on the dgVoodoo2 watermark to make sure that Direct3D mode is actually working.
Tweaking visual quality
Before we start exploring Hogwarts, we should make sure Harry and his friends look their very best. Start the game and from the main menu, choose “Options”. The following options will then appear.
The options that affect visual quality are “Resolution”, “Colour Depth”, “Texture Detail” and “Object detail”. Since this is a very old game now, you can simply set all of these settings to their highest (as per the screenshot above). When you’re done, click on the back arrow in the bottom right of the screen (not visible on the screenshot) to go back to the main menu.
You may notice the game exits full-screen mode when you change resolution. Don’t worry about this, simply press the alt and enter key together on your computers keyboard, that should restore full screen mode.
The game doesn’t have in-built support for gamepads, but our old friend Xpadder can come to the rescue here. Firstly, make sure the keys are defined as per the screenshot above. Now, add the following layout to Xpadder.
With this layout, you can move Harry with the left analogue stick, and move the camera with the right analogue stick. The Green (A) button jumps, while the X or B buttons cast spells. The analogue triggers let you speed up or slow down on your broom. You can also move the mouse with the right analogue stick, allowing you to navigate the games menus.
There’s one problem with playing the game on the pad. When you come to learn a new spell, you will need to trace a shape on the screen using the mouse pointer. This is tricky if you don’t have a big enough mouse mat and virtually impossible on the pad, so you will still need to keep your mouse handy just for these sections.
Artefacts in title screen/video scenes – This can happen if you force antialiasing on. Turn off antialiasing to cure this problem.
Game crashes when you go full screen – Start the game again and choose “Software” rendering mode. Now you should be able to use the alt and enter keys to go into full screen mode again. Strangely, choosing Software rendering mode actually seems to load hardware rendering mode, and vice versa.
Our regular screenshot tool didn’t seem to like this game, so here’s one we pilfered from Google image search.