PS3 Wonderbook Book Of Spells Review: A One (Magic) Trick Pony?

PS3 Wonderbook: One (Magic) Trick Pony? (REVIEW)

Is there anyone aged between about eight and 30-ish who has not at some point thought of themselves in the Harry Potter-verse, wished they had the ability to cast spells - or cried on their 11th birthday when they didn't get their letter from Hogwarts?

Have no fear! For now, with Book of Spells, the sole release title with the new PlayStation Wonderbook, you too can become a wizard/witch. Not literally, of course, but it's probably as close as you'll get.

Released on Friday, the Wonderbook is the latest in a line of products such as the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox Kinect and the PlayStation Move which are taking gaming away from traditional controllers and making the experience more physical and immersive.

The Wonderbook is lots of fun, but no one has made this face at anything, ever

After starting up the game, going through the setup and spending 20 minutes agonising over which wand to transform your Move controller into, the Wonderbook, before your eyes, becomes a literal book of spells.

Except, it doesn't. For the real book itself is a big blue thing covered in blue hieroglyph-like bar codes. Only when put before your PlayStation Eye camera does it turn into a thick, ragged old twine-bound tome.

Book of Spells is fully Harry Potter licensed, with plenty of input from J.K. Rowling herself, so you get the full works - you pick your house (Gryffindor, of course) and learn familiar Potter spells such as Wingardium Leviosa and Expelliarmus, among other more complex spells you learn along the way.

The game has a vague plot within the Potter universe, pitting you as a new Hogwarts student learning your basic wizarding skills, but despite being marketed at kids the game is easy and enjoyable to play through if you have a sense of imagination and adventure.

Book of Spells allows kids and adults alike to feel first-hand what it would be like to learn spellcraft in the Harry Potter world

For those that grew up with the books, it really does transport you back to being that age, following Harry and the gang as they rid the world of evil and so on. Waving your wand around to carve out the outlines for the spells is tricker than it should be - the game is often too stern in what it demands, sometimes slowing the pace of the spell-casting down to surgical tracing rather than swooping motions.

While the game itself is excellent and the Wonderbook is the perfect medium for the game, it remains to be seen what other games are planned for the format, and indeed if the games will be as satisfying as Book of Spells.

The game, Wonderbook, Move controller and Eye camera can all be purchased for a combined £40-£50 - not a vast expenditure for a good game - but the kit itself could end up being a one-trick pony unless the Wonderbook team can come up with more creative ways to use the thing in the future.


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