Phineas Nigellus Black in Hogwarts Legacy bridges the gap between page and screen

For fans of the Harry Potter books, this will be the first time Phineas is fleshed out in visual media.

Another day, another blog about Hogwarts Legacy!

What can I say? I’m pretty damn excited! Especially since it was announced that Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, & more) will be portraying Phineas Nigellus Black in Hogwarts Legacy!

The above video is a little featurette on how Pegg came to be Phineas and how he behaves as a character within the game. As Pegg says himself, it’s only right that the long line of British acting royalty that has starred in the Harry Potter films continues with him and his video game performance. I also enjoy that despite Pegg doing the voice for Phineas, the in-game model strikes a resemblance to Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black, which makes familial sense.

Simon Pegg’s Phineas Nigellus Black in “Hogwarts Legacy” (left) and Gary Oldman’s Sirius Black in the “Harry Potter” films (right)

For fans of the Harry Potter books however, this will be the first time Phineas is fleshed out in visual media and that has me extremely excited.

Within Potter lore, Black was a Slytherin and became Headmaster of Hogwarts from the late 1800s until his death in 1925. He is the Great-Great-Grandfather of not only Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather, but also Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Phineas Nigellus Black (misspelled “Phineus”) on the Black Family Tree within 12 Grimmauld Place in the film version of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”(2007)

Sirius is quoted in the Order of the Phoenix book describing Phineas as the “least popular Headmaster Hogwarts ever had.” The Hogwarts Legacy video and the quotes from the book prove that as the last Slytherin Headmaster before Snape within the Potter books, Black isn’t fond of school children nor their aspirations as young witches and wizards. I imagine this will be cause for some funny interactions within the game.

I wanted to talk a bit more about why the inclusion of Phineas within Hogwarts Legacy is a big deal though. For me, it’s because he was almost completely omitted from the Harry Potter films despite having a very significant role in the novels.

Phineas Nigellus Black is first introduced to us in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel. A painting of the former Hogwarts Headmaster graces the walls of the home of the Black family, muttering snarky comments toward Harry, his friends, and the Order while they live at 12 Grimmauld Place.

Later on in the novel, Harry learns that there’s a portrait of Phineas amongst the many portraits of old Headmasters of Hogwarts in Dumbledore’s office. Phineas is able to travel between his portrait at Grimmauld Place and Dumbledore’s office to commune messages and report findings between the Order and Dumbledore.

Phineas is the one who checks to see if Arthur Weasley had made it home from the Ministry the night he was attacked by Nagini. Phineas is able to not only confirm the legitimacy of the snake attack but also communicate to the Order that Arthur was in critical condition.

If it weren’t for Phineas, Harry’s frightening vision may not have been communicated quickly enough to save Mr. Weasley in time.

Dumbledore speaks with the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black in the film version of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007)

Phineas also warns the Order to head to the Ministry of Magic at the end of the book to help rescue Harry and his friends from the Death Eaters and Voldemort himself. He has a cantankerous interaction with Harry before this happens:

Phineas Nigellus: I have a message for you from Albus Dumbledore.
Harry Potter: What is it?
Phineas: Stay where you are.
Harry: I haven’t moved! So what’s the message?
Phineas: I have just given it to you, dolt. Stay where you are.
Harry: Why? Why does he want me to stay? What else did he say?
Phineas: Nothing whatsoever.
 Harry: So that’s it, is it? ‘Stay where you are?’ That’s all anyone could tell me after I got attacked by those dementors too. Just stay put while the grown-ups sort it out, Harry! We won’t bother telling you anything, though, because your tiny little brain won’t be able to cope with it!
    Phineas: You know, this is precisely why I loathed being a teacher! Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything. Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up popinjay that there might be an excellent reason why the headmaster of Hogwarts is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you? Have you never paused, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following Dumbledore’s orders has never yet lead you into harm? No. No, like all young people, you are quite sure that you alone feel and think, you alone recognise danger, you alone are the only one clever enough to realise what the Dark Lord may be planning –
  Harry: He is planning something to do with me, then?
  Phineas: Did I say that? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than listening to adolescent agonising… good-day to you.

Harry Potter and Phineas Nigellus Black argue in the novel version of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

In the film version of OOTP, Phineas’ lone scene is the “Mr. Weasley” scene, however, it’s his only appearance in any of the film versions of Harry Potter. We don’t even see him speak to Dumbledore in the scene.

Even in one of the most iconic scenes from both the novel and the movie, Phineas’ line from the novel is given to Kingsley Shacklebolt (played by George Harris) in the film. While I fully support the Kingsley line change, it was actually Phineas who says it in the book.

Phineas also displays sadness for the death of Sirius at the end of Order of the Phoenix. While he constantly complained about his great-great-grandson, a portrait was actually disturbed and saddened by the loss of its subject’s descendent.

“‘Am I to understand […] that my great-great-grandson – the last of the Blacks – is dead?’…He would walk, perhaps, from portrait to portrait, calling for Sirius throughout the house.”

Phineas Nigellus Black learning the news of the passing of Sirius Black in the “Order of the Phoenix” book.

Phineas returns most prominently in the final Potter novel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

In the seventh book, Phineas’ portrait accompanies Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s quest to find and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes in order to defeat the Dark Lord.

Hermione shoves the portrait into her small beaded bag, which is charmed with an undetectable extension spell.

Mary GrandPré illustration of Hermione with Phineas’ portrait from the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” novel.

As a mode of precaution, Hermione stows the portrait away so that the current Hogwarts Headmaster, Severus Snape, couldn’t be reported to on their whereabouts. Little did Hermione know that Snape was actually a very good man and assisted Harry, Ron, and Hermione while under the guise of a Death Eater.

Snape conjures his Doe Patronus to guide Harry toward Godric Gryffindor’s sword in the Forest of Dean about halfway through the book. While the events of the movie play out identically with the Silver Doe, what isn’t a part of the film version is that it is Phineas’ portrait that tells Snape exactly where Harry and Hermione are on Christmas Eve.

Snape, further proving he’s a good man, even corrects Phineas on his use of the word “Mudblood” when talking about Hermoine.

Phineas Nigellus: “Headmaster! They are camping in the Forest of Dean! The Mudblood —”
Severus Snape: “Do not use that word!”

Phineas Nigellus Black revealing the whereabouts of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Muggle-born Hermione Granger to Professor Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Without the Sword, Harry couldn’t have started destroying the Horcruxes that kept Voldemort alive. Without Phineas, Snape wouldn’t have been able to deliver the Sword. Thus, without Phineas, Voldemort wouldn’t have met his demise.

While there are many plot aspects in the Potter books that are much better than the films (the WORST change being: Harry snapping the Elder Wand in the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film rather than fixing his own broken wand with the Elder Wand in the final book), one of the key omissions was Phineas Nigellus Black.

Ludo Bagman in the “Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup” video game. The only visual adaptation of Bagman beyond the books.

I can forgive the massive omissions of Ludo Bagman and Winky the House Elf from the Goblet of Fire film. (Funnily enough, Bagman only appeared in the Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup video game from 2003, but this blog isn’t about him.) Sure, I can get over the lack of Lupin in the Deathly Hallows film adaptations as well. But one of the key characters that assists in the demise of Voldemort was completely left out of the film versions of the Potter series.

Getting to see Phineas Nigellus Black fleshed out as a living character in Hogwarts Legacy is a welcome bonus to what seems to be an amazing game. We finally get to experience a visual and interactive version of one of the more noble members of the Ancient House of Black.

We finally have a Potter character that can live beyond the page, long after the written series has finished.

~DS

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2023

2023 is filled to the brim with amazing video game releases, here are my most anticipated!

It feels like 2018 all over again.

The year that housed great video game releases like God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Marvel’s Spider-Man and more, was an absolutely unforgettable one!

I spent much of my time playing through all of these titles and unfortunately, some of them overlapped with the releases of the others. It seems in 2023, the best games of the year will be quite spaced out, but based on the sheer scale of each, I may not be completely finished with one by the time another comes out!

Either way, I will be playing A LOT of games in 2023. Here’s my Top 5 list of my most anticipated games for next year:

Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy XVI (6/22/23)

This game is set to bring back what makes the Final Fantasy series, well, a fantasy series.

Taking the live battle action that has revolutionized the series from Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII: Remake, FF16 looks like an incredible game, filled with legendary battles and an intense storyline about bloodlines, revenge, and claims to a throne.

Judging by the most recent trailer, this game is going to absolutely control my life this summer.

5.) Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth (Winter 2023)

The only reason Final Fantasy XVI isn’t #5 is because there’s still a high chance that Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth releases in the Winter of 2023.

Following the epic release of Final Fantasy VII: Remake in 2020, this game follows Cloud and the gang along into the next step of their journey, beautifully remade from the 1997 classic for the PS1: Final Fantasy VII.

FF7Remake told solely the Midgar chapter of the 1997 original and FF7Rebirth will pick right back up with Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Aerith, and Red XIII after their escape from Midgar. However, as I discussed in this video from 2020, the ending of FF7Remake wasn’t exactly a 1-to-1 reboot of the original game; it was something completely different.

So, FF7Rebirth is set to be a nostalgic filled remake with even more twists and turns from the original that nobody can anticipate! Here’s to hoping it does release in 2023 and doesn’t get pushed into 2024!

4.) STAR WARS Jedi: Survivor (3/17/23)

The journey of Cal Kestis from 2019’s instant classic STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order resumes in 2023!

I just replayed Fallen Order to get back into the swing of things for Survivor and I must say, this new game can go down as one of the greatest, if not, the greatest Star Wars game ever.

There were some combat bugs and gameplay mechanics that I was reminded of in my replay of Fallen Order such as abilities not working or not being able to fast travel back to the ship that frustrated me. However, it looks like everything that was great about the original game is being improved upon and then some for the sequel!

With more story about Cal Kestis and the surviving Jedi following Order 66, I’m sure we’re bound to get interaction between Cal and some more characters from the Original Trilogy, or even Star Wars: Rebels in this game! Let’s just hope we can fast travel to the ship this time…

3.) The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (5/12/23)

Being a sequel to one of the greatest games ever made is a daunting task. However, if there’s one game that can live up to the hype of its predecessor, I’m sure it will be The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Following the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 2017, hype for a sequel grew. As time went on, Breath of the Wild was recognized as the true flagship game for the Nintendo Switch.

Tears of the Kingdom is set to combine the timelines of the Zelda franchise and bring several of the series’ best storylines to the forefront with the series’ strongest entry as its base for gameplay.

Breath of the Wild is one of the few games I’ve ever played that I completed 100% of. All the Korok seeds, all the shrines, all the special armor, the Master Sword challenge, etc. I did ALL of it. I took my Switch with me everywhere and whether I grinded out several hours of discoveries or accomplished a quick shrine before my college classes, BOTW carved its way to being one of my favorite games of all-time.

I’m quite prepared to do all of this again, both throughout Hyrule and in the sky come May.

2.) Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (Fall 2023)

Ever since Insomniac’s announcement of Spider-Man 2 in 2021, gamers everywhere have patiently waited for more info on when the game will release.

In a recent PlayStation Blog, Sony and Insomniac guarantee the game’s release by Q3 of 2023, therefore, it makes my list for most anticipated games of next year!

Following Spider-Man (2018) and Spider-Man: Miles Morales (2020), this game will tag team the two Spider-Men together to face their greatest threat yet: Venom. Given all of the unlockable suits from the previous two games, including all of the movie iterations of Spider-Man’s suits, I’m beyond excited to see their black, Symbiote versions that are infected by Venom.

While I’m really bummed there haven’t been any trailers or gameplay reveals since the game’s announcement, I know full well that this game is going to be amazing….or even spectacular, or dare I say: the ultimate Spider-Man experience.

Just like Breath of the Wild above, I fully 100% completed both 2018’s Spider-Man and 2020’s Miles Morales with very little frustration. These games are both just so much fun to play and they’re the epitome of super hero games overall.

I just can’t wait to see how Insomniac improves upon games that already seemed absolutely perfect.

1.) Hogwarts Legacy (2/10/23)

Considering the fact that I already wrote a lengthy blog about this game, it should come as no surprise that my most anticipated game for 2023 is Portkey Games’ Hogwarts Legacy.

I have an intense fandom for video games, movies, comic books, super heroes, etc., and it all wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t grow up with Harry Potter. It has always been my favorite media franchise and it helped me grow into the person I am today.

Playing through the licensed games from Electronic Arts that coincided with the releases of the Potter films throughout my childhood, always made me want a game where I could create my own wizard and experience my own stories at Hogwarts.

Hogwarts Legacy is that game. I will get to create myself and explore not only Hogwarts, but the Wizarding World around the castle as well; encountering all the magical creatures, enemies, spells, and potions that made us all fall in love with the world of Harry Potter initially.

Beginning as a fifth year transfer student into Hogwarts, your created protagonist is thrown into the center of a mystery that could endanger not only the students of Hogwarts, but for all the witches and wizards in the Wizarding World. Equipped with a full arsenal of spells, potions, and magical creatures, it’s up to you to uncover this mystery and cement your legacy at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

February 10th can’t come soon enough. If this game came out any later in the year, I think I would’ve spontaneously combusted.

~DS

Hogwarts Legacy is going to continue the epic history of Harry Potter video game music

The soundtrack preview for the highly anticipated Harry Potter prequel game hit me right in the nostalgia.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I can assure you, it’s because I was playing the literal Helheim out of God of War: Ragnarok.

It’s such an amazing game that for the second straight blog, I’m referencing it before I actually get into what I’m writing about. But before I proceed, I will say this: I plan on either writing a blog or making a YouTube video about God of War: Ragnarok and a theory I have about Norse Mythology as it pertains to another beloved video game franchise of mine.

So, why was today the day I was drawn out of the blog dry spell I was in? This is why:

The highly anticipated Hogwarts Legacy video game from Portkey Games and Warner Bros. Avalanche today released this music video titled “Overture to the Unwritten.”

This game releases on Feb. 10, 2023, and to my dismay, it can not come any sooner.

I’m a GIGANTIC Harry Potter fan. I would not like all of the nerdy things I do, video games included, if it weren’t for the Harry Potter series.

The book series literally helped me learn how to read. I grew up with the books, films, and video games all releasing as I was aging my way through school, wishing I was at Hogwarts.

The very first game I got with my very first console, the PlayStation 2, all the way back in 2001, was the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone PS1 video game. My older brother and I played the hell out of this game. The magical duo of the Ps2 and the game itself transported us within the castle walls.

You can even ask my parents about the Broomstick training level in this game; they still have nightmares about it. They stayed up “past midnight, easy” trying to fly through all the rings on my 4-year-old behalf.

What followed were countless magical journeys ranging from the GameBoy Color to the PlayStation 3 and spanned the course of 12 years. While the gameplay always slightly varied from game to game in the series, the one thing that remained a constant was the AMAZING score that backdropped these adapted adventures.

You want to talk about immersion? You want to make gamers feel like they’re actually in a magical castle? BOOM. You hire Jeremy Soule or James Hannigan. (Check out this website to hear all the music in one place.)

While the Potter films are epically scored by John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat, this blog is specifically about the video games and the video game music.

To begin with Jeremy Soule, I’d say he is probably more well-known for his work on other epic video game soundtracks including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. But I know him for the first four Harry Potter video games as well as the PS2’s Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup.

The greatest bit of music from any of the early Harry Potter games is one I listen to at least once a week while I’m writing something. This track called “Happy Hogwarts” is just the perfect soundtrack for wandering around with Harry, Ron, and Hermione within the castle. Listen below:

The only way to describe this track is magical.

Not to mention, this amazingly soothing track for Diagon Alley from the Chamber of Secrets video game:

Soule also captured my imagination while running through the Hogwarts grounds in the Prisoner of Azkaban game with this track playing:

After Soule, Hannigan picked up from the Order of the Phoenix game through the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 video games.

With a wide range of composition credits, including the Harry Potter audiobook soundtracks, the series’ conclusion was in safe hands with Hannigan.

Whether it’s the “Exploring Hogwarts” track from the Order of the Phoenix game:

Or the “Friendship Theme” from the Half-Blood Prince game:

And even the EPIC “Wandering Part 3 – Mystery” from the Deathly Hallows Part 2 game:

Hannigan took what Soule started and did an absolutely amazing job at putting you within the walls of Hogwarts as you completed tasks with characters you loved from the books and films.

Huge props to both Soule and Hannigan for making the music they did, because if you swapped their tracks into the films, the transition would be seamless.

But where does it all lead? Well, into Hogwarts Legacy, of course!

Judging by the “Overture to the Unwritten” music video today, I’m prepared to say that Hogwarts Legacy seems distinctly prepared to take what Soule and Hannigan built and add to the epic history of Harry Potter video game music.

This masterful piece performed by the Seven Springs Orchestra and Choir and composed by Chuck E. Myers “Sea”, J. Scott Rakozy, and Peter Murray, seems to capture what its predecessors once did.

The key difference I’m most excited about when I dive into Hogwarts Legacy in February is this: this game’s score will finally be the score that backdrops my journey at Hogwarts.

This game will begin with character customization and focuses on a new journey in the Harry Potter world that was once “unwritten.” You’d bet your ass that I’m going to make a character that looks like me and I can’t wait to discover what Hogwarts has in store for me!

Since all the previous video games in the Wizarding World followed the adventures of Harry directly from the books and films, I’m beyond excited to have my own journey in Hogwarts with its own unique musical score.

The official Hogwarts Legacy channel has also released a few peaceful ASMR videos that show off the environment of the game, including this one:

I can already picture a score like the “Overture to the Unwritten” being paired perfectly with the incredible diegetic sounds that the game developers put into these breathtaking environments.

However, if Portkey Games and WB Avalanche are reading this and want to make me shed even more tears on release day, I wouldn’t be upset if “Happy Hogwarts” chimed in as I make my way down the Grand Staircase and head toward my first ever Defence Against the Dark Arts class.

As you anticipate Hogwarts Legacy, please go listen to the Harry Potter video game soundtracks when you study, write, read, or work. You will not regret it!

~DS

EDIT from 12/6/22

Oh My Goodness, we’re back again today!

The Hogwarts Legacy Twitter account posted this video this morning all about the music to the game:

In this video, one of the composers (Chuck E. Myers “Sea”) confirms they’ve been working on the project for over 4 YEARS! He compliments John Williams for making “Hedwig’s Theme” and that it was an incredible base to begin from.

Another one of the composers (J. Scott Rakozy) also confirmed that they were going for the nostalgic element but with something new! They didn’t specifically mention the scores of the original Potter games, but they absolutely meant those, alongside the scores of the films.

What’s further apparent is that there’s so much attention to detail and care put into the soundtrack of the game. And if half as much care goes into the overall game, us Potter fans are in for one hell of an experience come February!

~ DS…again