Harry Potter-Style Magical Training with Wonderbook: Book of Spells–A Review

If you know your Wingardium Leviosa from your Expelliarmus, and you’ve been waiting for your invitation to Hogwarts, I’ve got some good news for you. The Wonderbook: Book of Spells for the PlayStation with Move gives you a chance to grab a wand and learn your spell casting. Right in your own living room.

Wonderbook is a peripheral for the PlayStation Move. It doesn’t look like much; it’s a generic-looking blue book full of cryptic designs. But the book appears on-screen as a full-color tome full of animated illustrations and text from the Book of Spells by J.K. Rowling creation, Miranda Goshawk. The PlayStation Eye camera captures you in your living room as your PlayStation Move remote turns into a wand right before your eyes. As you read through the Book of Spells, you learn to cast spells, explore the history of the Witches and Wizards of the past, and take on challenges to prove what you’ve learned. When the challenges begin, you are transported to new locations to try out your skills.

Book-of-Spells-Classroom

Harry Potter fans will most likely find this title delightful. It allows you to take part in the fantasy, and it extends the Potter world. In fact, current residents of J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website can connect their online profile, import their wands, and earn points for their houses. Kids who aren’t already fans of the wizarding world will also enjoy the quality use of augmented reality. My kids (and husband) enjoyed "failing" at levitating a jar of eyeballs after realizing that the jar would smash and send eyeballs skittering around our living room.

It is important to note that this is more of an interactive book than a "game." There isn’t a lot of depth to it, and little to explore. The narration can be heavy-handed at times, and the overall experience does start to feel repetitive after the initial glow wears off. This is really a fan experience, but it also displays a wealth of opportunity for future Wonderbook titles. I’d love to see some choose-your-own adventure titles, and maybe even a remake of the text adventure titles we enjoyed early on in the video game journey.

If you haven’t experienced PlayStation Move, you’ll find the controller response to be sensitive and accurate, as it uses not only 3-dimensional motion-sensing technology, but a camera to track the glowing orb on the controller. It not only recognizes your moves in the X-Y plane, but can tell if you move closer to or further from the screen. Fans of tennis, swordplay, and other games with a hand-held tool will appreciate the accuracy of the Move controller, which also lends itself well to wielding a wand.

The PlayStation Wonderbook: Book of Spells is a charming and clever extension of the Harry Potter universe. The augmented reality quality has bumped up a notch from previous attempts, and the title certainly holds the magic that the name suggests. Those seeking a game experience will want to stick with other titles, but fans of the franchise will find plenty here to love.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells is available bundled with the PlayStation Move (the PS Eye Camera and one controller) and as a stand alone purchase (Wonderbook and Book of Spells game). The bundle retails for $79.99, while the game retails for $39.99, although both are readily available for less on on Amazon.com.

Disclosure: We received a review copy of Wonderbook and the Book of Spells title. There was no additional compensation and no promise of a positive review. I am a member of the PlayStation Family group where I receive no compensation, but may receive other perks and benefits. The opinions contained in this post are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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