Book of Spells review

You will be able to immerse yourself with Wonderbook and Book of Spells into the Harry potter universe like never before. Learn how to cast the spells you’ve heard in the movies and read in the books.

As you buy Book of Spells, Wonderbook tags along in the package as this is the game Sony decided to use as a kickstarter for their new peripheral. The book itself is not magical, or even technical – it contains 6 set of pages with big QR-like codes on it, and the game make use of the AR technology. The quality of the book itself is unmatched if I compare it to my other books as the binding is soft and reeks of quality and the pages is heavy and made of very stiff cardboard.

Demanding game is demanding

On top of the book and your console you’ll need another peripheral – the Move controller and their tag along: the Eye camera. As you see, this game demands quite the list of things to work.

  1. PS3 with controller
  2. TV
  3. Wonderbook
  4. Move controller
  5. Eye camera
  6. And the game itself

While I’m all for criticising the game at this point as its quite the effort to even start playing, and I haven’t even started on the software setup yet, I decided to twist it and say that it makes it easier for the player to imagine themselves as the next great wizard or witch. And isn’t that what we want our kids to experience?

When your PS3 starts spinning the disc, it prompts you to install the game. After the install is done, you get to the tricky part; making all this work together. There’s no reason to panic though, as the game will casually and step by step tell you how and what’s needed to get going. This is great and helpful for people that doesn’t play games often (or kids), but it might get on the regular gamers nerves (or God help me, an impatient child). Wonderbook and the games* for it is marketed towards kids, and I look forward to what developers can come up with, as this could be a great way of learning.

* So far only Digg’s Nightcrawler (help the bookworm detective finding clues in his case) and Walking with Dinosaurs (dig up bones and meet alive dinosaurs) has been announced at this point, but I’m sure there’s more games on the way.

Experience the magic firsthand

Your move controller changes to a wand within the game, and Wonderbook magically gets rewrapped as Book of Spells on your screen. The book is written by Miranda Goshawk 200 years ago (this is where the timeline breaks unless there’s more than one character going by that name – several sources says that Miranda was born in 1921) and she starts the tale by telling the reader about her childhood and how her sisters made fun of her. She made the decision to write Book of Spells as a useful tool for students of Magic. As you progress in the game, you’ll be told tales from the magic world, how spells was invented and about students who failed their whole life because of bad life decisions. This should supposedly remind kids that hard work will pay out in the end.

When I heard that it was five chapters each with four spells, it sounded like a little, but at the games pace, you’ll quickly eat the hours. Some might claim the game is short, but you can always go back in the different chapters and better your score, getting even more hours out of the game. To end the discussion, it makes the game all the more foreseeable for kids and new gamers that this game is made for. You won’t see the Call of Duty or Halo players getting into this game unless they are major Harry Potter fans.

Pronunciation tests are deceiving

The game offers pronunciation tests for each of the twenty spells. I had my suspicion when the narrator almost reacted when I started speaking – testings made it clear that the game only checks if someone is speaking or not. For kids, this is great, as they do not have to try over and over to get it right, and for me, it’s great because this is so minor in the game that it doesn’t really matter. I even felt a little silly talking to the game and I’m quite relieved that I didn’t had to try and pronounce over and over again.

Swinging your wand and imagine being Harry Potter is fun for only so long. Not saying it’s a bad or broken game, but its not like anyone will sit and play this game for months like many open world and FPS games can lure certain gamers to. Also, I can’t but help myself from imagine placing my mum in front of the console, then place the book in front of her, and see her reaction to what happens on screen. While core gamers and even more journalists like myself, know what’s happening and to an extent how it works, kids, casual and non-gamers will be blown away by this.

Hit; The mix of making something new and getting hold of the true original and very popular franchise is great. This could turn out to be a big part of making more gamers which is great for the gaming industry.

Miss; It was a little too obvious that the pronunciation tests did nothing but checking if somebody said something, so perhaps the reaction to sounds should be delayed a little?

Need; Just as with music games, this could do with more spells to learn.

Written by

Getting sucked into games by Super Mario as a kid, gaming got on hold during her teens. Lured into gaming with the 7th generation by GTA IV, and a few years later intrigued by reviewing games, and now she's running gamingirl since 2009.
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