Wonderbook and the Book of Spells

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Bim
Author: BimWebsite: http://geekout.ph
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The PlayStation Move is currently being underutilized. For something that can do shooters, sports, swashbuckling and quite possibly anything else in between, developers haven't really taken to it the way they have the Kinect. There is still so much promise with it, but it just sort of fizzled out.

Wonderbook

To revitalize the ailing peripheral, the guys over at Sony introduced a new add-on aimed towards kids. I'm sure you know the purchasing power kids have these days. Sony unveiled the Wonderbook, which was showcased at E3 last June, 2012. Essentially, it's a physical book with QR codes all over it that the PS Eye can track and read. It has 12 pages worth of inner pages, but both back and front covers are readable QR codes, as well.

I can think of a number of ways developers can utilize this, but I think the launch title, Book of Spells, pretty much nailed it.

Virtual Storybook Gameplay

Book of Spells is not like Sorcery, it doesn't play like a typical game would. It is, more than anything, a virtual storybook written by J.K. Rowling, expanding and exploring the Harry Potter universe a little bit more. It puts you, the player, in the boots of a student at Hogwarts, and you go through the curriculum of all the spells within the book. Aided by the very amusing narrative, you take tests and perform different tasks related to the spells you learn.

You must wave your wand a certain way while pressing the Move button to activate spells. Each spell has a different pattern. To use them, you must either flick your wand or press and hold the trigger. Gameplay pretty much consists of learning all the spells and utilizing them to perform different tasks.

Everything is related to the Harry Potter universe - everything from the characters to the spells and to the mythology, which makes it a must-have for any HP fan. My girlfriend, who bought the game, has one major gripe with the storytelling, though - you do not get judged by the sorting hat. You pick your own House, and based on that decision, the spells you learn will vary.

You do have a main quest, though. While most of it is just going through the book, listening to stories and waving your PS Move wand around, an overarching goal exists - a riddle. You'll need all the spells you'll learn throughout the game to be able to answer it. All in all, although it's made for kids, it's enough to keep even adults entertained.

Once you've completed the game, you can go ahead and change your House but that won't offer you a great deal of replayability.

As a bonus, you have the option to link your Pottermore account.

Augmented Reality Done Right

Out of all the AR games I have ever seen, this is probably the most immersive ever. It takes the PS Move and turns it into a wand and it turns the Wonderbook into the Book of Spells. It was so believable on screen that Mel tilted her head down to look at the actual, physical book to get a better look at the text on-screen. She face-palmed herself after realizing she was only looking at QR codes.

Tracking the wand and the book is particularly impressive. It works the way any AR app would, only you can manipulate everything in three axes. You can move the wand left and right, up and down and even point it at the Eye to get different results. Closing the book partially manipulates the contents displayed on the book, too.

At different points in the game, visuals would zoom in and out while putting you into the most Harry Potter-esque environments. The game does this flawlessly and only drags you into the illusion even more. I was quite literally amazed.

Verdict

If you have kids around the house, this is the perfect game for them. There's no violence, there's no killing, and the mythology is fantastic. It can keep them engaged for hours and hours on end, while reading along with narrative. If you're a Harry Potter fan, regardless of your age, then this is definitely something you want to get to feel like you're really part of the universe. If you are neither, though, then maybe you could pass on this and go for Sorcery instead.

It's available at DataBlitz for P1750, if I recall correctly.

   

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