This guide was last updated on 14/03/20.
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, sometimes if you choose “Direct3D Support”, the game actually seems to start in software mode and will crash if put into full-screen mode. Try both options if you have issues. In the dgVoodoo2 configuration program (dgVoodooCpl app) 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.
Playing in Widescreen
The game only supports 4:3 (non-widescreen) resolutions and so should run with black bars at the side of your monitor or with the graphics stretched and distorted. Adjust your monitor/TV to compensate for this if necessary.
An unofficial widescreen patch exists for the game, but try as we might it would not work for us and simply caused the game to crash on startup.
Expert users might want to create a custom, 1080p or 4k screen resolution for the game using their graphics card software. We used Nvidia control panel to create a 4:3 aspect ratio resolution of 2880 x 2160 (you would use 1440×1080 on a standard 1080p HDTV).
Then, you simply need to edit the HP.ini file (you can see how we did that in the “Spinning camera issue” section) and search for FullscreenViewportX and FullscreenViewportY and set them to your newly created resolution.
If the game still starts out with stretched graphics, load the dgVoodooCpl app that should be in the “System” folder from when you installed DGVoodoo, and on the General tab, change “Scaling mode” to “Stretched, keep aspect ratio”.
Interestingly, when we first wrote this guide, the game didn’t recognize our gamepad at all, so we made the Xpadder configuration below. However, having come back to the game in more recent years it seems it does have some limited controller support, so here is what we recommend.
Connect your controller of choice and start the game. See if you can move Harry.
If Mr Potter can get around just fine, you don’t need to do anything else, although when you get to the Quidditch sections later in the game you may still need Xpadder in order to be able to set your controllers analogue triggers.
If the camera constantly spins, then you will need to cast some Hogwarts magic to fix this, or rather, do some editing of configuration files, which we will come to in a moment.
If Harry doesn’t move at all, your controller isn’t supported. Firstly, make sure the keys are defined as per the screenshot above then use Xpadder and create a profile similar to the one shown below.
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.
Spinning camera issue
If you find you can move Harry around but the camera won’t sit still, then you need to apply this fix. You will need to edit some configuration files, see this tutorial if you’re not familiar with that.
Open up File Explorer and navigate to your documents folder (usually C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\). Open the Harry Potter folder that’s inside there.
You should see a file called “HP.ini”. Right click on this and choose “edit”. The file should open in Notepad (or your favourite text editor).
Use the search facility in notepad to find the line that says “DeadZoneRUV=False” and change it to read “DeadZoneRUV=True”. There should be two occurrences of this, change them both.
Start the game again and verify that the problem is fixed.
The game doesn’t let you redefine all the controller buttons, so you might want to use Xpadder to map some extra keys to your controller. Particularly you might want to map the Z and A keys onto the analogue triggers so that you can speed up and slow down on your broom, and mouse down and up onto the right analogue stick so you can look up and down.
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.
Missing/flickering textures – This is due to a bug with the games texture caching. Open the HP.ini file (just like we did in the Spinning camera issue section) and search for “UsePrecache” (without the quotes). Change the line from “UsePrecache=True” to “UsePrecache=False”.
Our regular screenshot tool didn’t seem to like this game, so here’s one we pilfered from Google image search.