I loved my pop up book when I was a kid – and would turn the pages until it was nearly falling to pieces. Things have certainly moved on a lot since then.
The Wonderbook takes the idea of a pop up book to the next level. It looks and feels like a regular book, but once it’s put in front of the PS3 Eye camera it’s completely transformed, with content bursting from each previously blank page.
Book of Spells is the first release in a series of games that will use the new book peripheral, and this one is specially for fans of the Harry Potter series. The premise is that it’s a spellbook found in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry 100 years before Harry joins as a member of Gryffindor.
It’s been developed with the collaboration of JK Rowling, author of the boy wizard series, and features a good bit of new content written by her especially for the game.
Players get the chance to learn and practice spells that Harry and co will be eventually using in their quest against the evil Lord Voldemort. These include skills such as shrinking, growing, and levitating – you might find yourself dropping the jar of eyeballs just to see them scatter all over the place. To do this, you make use of your movement sensitive Move control, which becomes a magic wand.
Although this is aimed at the seven-12 age bracket, mum and dad will love playing along. The novelty of actually seeing yourself in the game takes a long time to wear off – and little ones never seem to tire of waving to themselves in the TV screen. Be warned though, adult gamers may have to sit on their hands to stop themselves snatching the Move off younger players and showing them how to do it properly.
Although this is essentially a one player game, it feels like the whole family can get in on the action – one person doing the spell, another turning the pages of the book – which looks so real on screen you can hardly believe it – and others shouting encouragement (or criticism!)
For Harry Potter fans – and even those who aren’t massively into the series of books and films – this is a great buy, scoring top marks for originality, look and the interactive factor. It’s a good investment too, as Sony have promised a steady stream of Wonderbook games, with ones already in development including BBC Walking with Dinosaurs, Diggs Nightcrawlers and some Disney titles. Story time will never be the same again.