ps3-wonderbook-large copyFormat reviewed: PS3
Other formats available: None
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony
Price: £19.99 for game and Wonderbook
£49.99 for game and Wonderbook, Move controller and Camera
Website: us.playstation.com/games-and-media/games/wonderbook-book-of-spells-ps3.html
Rating: 7

Calling all Harry Potter fans out there, just as Kinect Star Wars finally gave you a lightsaber, now Wonderbook: Book of Spells gives you a wand and teaches you how to be a wizard.

Wonderbook is a new accessory for the PS3. You need to have a Move controller and camera too though, so if you don't have them you will need to get them as well. As the name suggests, it's a book that you put in front of the camera and you turn the pages learning spells as you go.

It uses the same sort of augmented reality as previous PS3 such as EyePet. However, we found that Book of Spells (BoS) is a lot better than EyePet. BoS works every time and it’s seamless.

Whereas, a number of times in EyePet, the game wouldn’t understand our hand gestures, we didn’t have any of this with BoS. This is probably as much to do with the Move technology in the controller as it is to do with the game. It’s clearly easier for the camera to work with the controller than a hand.

But back to the gameplay. Just as young Harry and his friends learnt the basic spells, and then more complex ones, when they were at school, so do you with BoS. For every spell there is a story that explains how and when the spell was invented and who did it. These are beautifully animated in a sort of puppet show way. They are shown as a play and you can interact with them.

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At various points in the story little tabs stick out either side of the stage. These are like the ones you get in pop-up books and you pull them by moving your ‘wand’ to the left or right of the stage, depending on what you think the answer to the question is.

When you have watched these, they can be skipped if you’d rather not, you then go on to learning the spell itself. First of all you need to turn to the requisite page in the Book of Spells. Then you will see patches of glowing light on the pages.

Depending on the spell you either pull these up, by moving the wand down and pressing the action button, or tip the book up to look in. Both of these actions work really well particularly when you tip the book up to look down holes.

To cast a spell you need to know two things: the incantation (what you say) and the wand movement. You learn the incantation first, which you have to say nice and loud, and then the wand movements.

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Then when you have practiced the wand movement you have a test. With wingardium leviosa, the levitation spell you obviously have to lift things, with alohomora you unlock things and so on.

At the end of the first stage you have a test where you have to use the four spells to solve a problem. None of this is particularly hard though. In fact the game isn’t that challenging even for younger gamers. Our biggest issue though is that once you have finished all the spells there isn’t that much to make you want to come back and do much more. It doesn’t have much in the way of long playability.

Book of Spells and the Wonderbook is a great thing. The game looks really good and plays really well. Whereas some augmented reality games struggle, Book of Spells is spot on. It’s a must for every Harry Potter fan who owns a PS3.

Review by Tuckski for BCS

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