REVIEW: Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit

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Oct 15, 2018

Posted by: Emma Pocock

Exclusives, Fun, Games, News, Products, Review, Science, Tech

The Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit released this month, and Leaky were lucky enough to review the kit in its entirety, which contains a first-of-its-kind motion sensor wand, helping you learn how to code whilst completing Potter-themed challenges!

I was super impressed with the kit overall, with highlights being the art style throughout the game, the number of spells available to use, and the manner in which the kit builds up knowledge of coding naturally, making it feel as though you’re playing a game, but also offering ways to explore your creativity and skill further in the ‘Kano Play’ free-play environment and share your creations in the collaborative ‘Kano World’ network.

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The kit (which is now available on the official Kano website for £99.99 / $99.99) arrives in an elegant box, not far off of an Ollivander’s wand box! Putting together your wand is easy with the LEGO-style guide, and batteries are included – bonus! The kit also comes with some stickers (including a cauldron!), and a quick guide to wand motions in the game. Watch Leaky’s unboxing of the kit below and check out our early preview to see these in full and check out the wand-making guide:

Locations and Challenges:

Challenges in the game are organised on a map of the wizarding world, which includes Hogwarts (and the surrounding area, including the Forbidden Forest and Hogsmeade) and Diagon Alley.

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You start off with a simple challenge at The Leaky Cauldron, and although not ALL the shops in Diagon Alley are used as challenge locations, the map still contains a high level of detail – I do wish Ollivander’s had been chosen as a level, though!

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There are plenty of levels in Hogsmeade, with some of the most colorful challenges happening in Honeydukes, as you can imagine (rivalled only by Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!):

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A map of Hogwarts also shows various levels in the castle, usually teaching wand motions – there are a couple of challenges themed after Charms and Potions classes, for example:

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There are over 70 levels in the game, and once finished you can go back and revisit any of them, and also tweak challenges to make them more difficult, or to alter their purpose to share with others in Kano World.

Your Kano Profile & Avatar

Kano really went all-out in making sure they gave Potter fans a way to make this kit their own. Your Avatar in the Kano App is sharable in the Kano World community environment, and whilst you start off with some great options for customising your Avatar (Hogwarts house scarves, jumpers, hats, a broad spectrum of hair and skin tones), as you progress through challenges you’ll be rewarded with various accessories – as illustrated below:

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I love the fun designs of these accessories (which were inspired by the film art!), and getting to have a Grindylow as a companion animal whilst also sporting some Ravenclaw pride, Luna’s Gryffindor lion hat, a bottle of Pumpkin Juice and the Marauder’s Map let me live out my wizarding world dreams through my Avatar pretty accurately.

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Potter Themes, Spells and Objects: 

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As Leaky saw in an early preview of the kit, Kano created an incredible amount of Potter-inspired artwork for this game, incorporating 25 realistic wand movements (see above), which were created in collaboration with Warner Bros and the Neil Blair Partnership to ensure they were accurate. The game also includes backgrounds inspired by locations in the books and films (see below) and hundreds of objects, including Butterbeer, Pumpkin Juice, potions, cauldrons, Pumpkin Pasties, Chocolate Frogs, and much more.

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Take a look at a few of the backgrounds up close below – you can use these on your own creations in Kano Play, and also see them whilst completing challenges:

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The kit isn’t a ‘game’, as such, but although the art style is simple, you can really tell the lengths the team behind this kit went to in ensuring this was as immersive, familiar and exciting for Potter fans as possible. I absolutely love the fun art style in this kit – it’s got Kano’s signature ‘pixelated’ animation style behind it, but remains familiar and super detailed.

The sound effects and music in the kit are pretty sparse – you can listen to music whilst selecting challenges on the map (it sounds like something you’d hear in Hogsmeade, or in the grounds of Hogwarts) but other than that the challenges are fairly quiet. You can, however, make your own music with the Hogwarts orchestra in one of the challenges (and in the Kano Play environment) – Flitwick would be proud

Learning How to Code in the Kano Coding Environment: 

Kano believe that coding is a tool to empower people to harness their creativity, and that coding opens a door to that creativity. It’s important, then, that the coding environment is easy to use, to encourage more diverse audiences to get involved in coding to higher levels. In a previous press release, Kano announced their mission to educate a new audience with the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit:

“We’re surrounded by technology in our homes, workplaces, and pockets, yet only a small percent of people, less than 1% of 1%, understand the happenings behind the screen,” said Alex Klein, Co-Founder and CEO of Kano. “We are thrilled to partner with Warner Bros Consumer Products to inspire people of all ages, all over the world, to make their own code, and see how easy it can be to understand, play, and create with it.”

Going through each of the levels, you begin to pick up aspects of code, and I certainly started to view coding as a language, where there are rules and ways of communicating what you’re trying to tell the computer to do in the simplest manner possible.

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The challenges begin easy, teaching you how to drag-and-drop various commands into the coding environment. There are hundreds of commands available to choose from, and as you progress through challenges they become organised into ‘Trays’ (seen on the left side the GIF above), further illustrating the complexity of the kit, and the power of code to teach skills such as logic, math and physics which also encouraging creativity. Each element of code is explained as you progress, introducing you to key elements and helping you to see the science behind the commands you use in each challenge:

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As you advance, you’ll also be able to read the Javascript for each challenge, which comes in handy when making adaptations and fixing any glitches in your code:

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Each challenge teaches you how to use your wand in more immersive and useful ways. The first-of-its-kind wand interacts with the coding environment to make spells more realistic. By combining a motion sensor, rumble effect and LED light on the wand, spells look and feel much more immersive, and Kano teach you how to use code to bring together those special effects all by yourself! See below for an example of a challenge where the LED lights up the same color as the fireworks you create when waving the wand upwards:

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Just like language apps like Duolingo (which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever tried to learn a language), Kano include ‘Puzzles’ in the middle of Challenge levels, which give you the opportunity to put your skills to the test and practice:

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Spells are just another form of command in the coding environment, allowing you to practice your wand work at the same time as practicing your code – take a look at a Charms Class challenge below, which teaches you how to perform Wingardium Leviosa, whilst also teaching you how to tell the coding environment to interact with the wand to make the feather on screen float and rotate as you rotate the wand:

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Codes become more complex as you progress, integrating maths, physics and more difficult commands, meaning puzzles also get harder!

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Here’s a fun puzzle example, which allows you to get creative with your spell casting, asking you to make the pumpkins either grow (with Engorgio) or shrink (with Reducio) to fit the red outlines. You’re provided with two commands (to the left):

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The challenges are not only fun, they’re informative and creative. Whilst these are meant for all ages, younger users may need more support as challenges progress!

Kano World and Kano Play

Kano Play offers the opportunity to make your own challenges (incorporating hundreds of commands, as well as spells, Potter-themed objects, backgrounds and much more) in a free-play coding environment, whilst Kano World offers the opportunity to share your creations with other Users in a collaborative network. Users can tweak each other’s creations, build upon Challenges, or create games, which can also be shared on social media:

Here’s a creation by Potter’s own Oliver Phelps, who made an interactive feature allowing you to levitate a troll using ‘Wingardium Leviosa':

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Another creation by co-Weasley twin James Phelps gets you to sweep up Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes – how very fitting!

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Users can also follow each other, and Like or Comment on creations:

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The Potter community is famed for being creative and collaborative, so there’s already plenty of creations in Kano World to check out!

Overall, the Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit serves an important place in Wizarding World merchandise, as the very first Harry Potter STEM kit. It combines some fun features (the spell casting is particularly addictive), with easy to follow lessons in code, as well as the opportunity to share your creativity with others. The wand is easy to put together, easy to connect to devices, and I’ve had no issues at all with the app (aside from a few lags, fixed by quickly reconnecting the wand), which is intuitive and beautifully designed. The attention to detail that went into creating this kit is phenomenal (read more about the process here), and whether you’re already an expert coder looking for a fun way to get creative with your skills, you’re looking for a fun way to learn to code, you’re intrigued by the idea of an educational Harry Potter kit, or you just want to cast spells with the first-of-its-kind wand, this kit will serve you well! Order yours at the Kano Website here.

Watch the trailer for the kit below:





Finding Hogwarts

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.