Wonderbook: Book of Spells
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wonderbook: Book of Spells is a less a game than a collection of Harry Potter-themed stories and activities. It requires a Wonderbook -- a paper and cardboard storybook that comes with the game -- as well as a PlayStation Move controller and PlayStation Eye camera. You can purchase the game and Wonderbook, or a bundle that also includes the Move and Eye camera. Through a combination of augmented reality and player imagination kids get to experience what it's like to be a witch or wizard learning to cast spells. The game contains infrequent instances of fantasy violence, including one story in which a character dies, but these events play out with paper puppets in a pop-up theatre. Players occasionally engage virtual opponents themselves, but only to stun them with magic spells cast from their wands.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- reading comprehension
Thinking & Reasoning
- problem solving
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
This interactive extension of the Harry Potter universe is unusual, magical, and memorable. It's also delightfully acted, beautifully presented, and surprisingly immersive. Kids will feel constantly engaged.
Kids can learn about solving problems, dust off their acting skills, and practice memorization and reading. Many of the stories act as fables or lessons, and the instructor is an encouraging guide.
Players are led through the book page by page by an instructor. It's generally pretty straightforward, and additional help/hints can be obtained. Players can also visit the online Pottermore community.
What's it about?
The first in a new line of interactive books designed for Sony's Wonderbook for PlayStation Move, WONDERBOOK: BOOK OF SPELLS puts kids in the cloak of a new student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The paper and cardboard storybook that comes with the game is covered with blocky AR (augmented reality) tags. However, when viewed onscreen through the lens of a PlayStation Eye camera, it transforms into ancient-looking tome loaded with magical stories, pictures, and instructions for casting 20 different spells. Using the PlayStation Move controller as a wand (it actually looks like one when seen on your TV through the camera), players work through five chapters filled with stories written by J.K. Rowling herself, as well as spells, activities, conundrums, and ability-challenging tests.
Is it any good?
Wonderbook: Book of Spells is less a game and more an interactive extension of the Harry Potter universe that delves into the history and practice of the series' most famous magical incantations. It's delightfully acted, beautifully presented, and surprisingly immersive. Whether practicing spells with waves of their wands or just pulling virtual tabs as they interact with pop-up book stories, kids feel constantly engaged.
It's a little formulaic -- learn about spells, practice them, take a test, repeat -- but this could prove helpful for younger players. There's quite a bit for players to take in at the start as they figure out how to interact with the book and properly use their wands. Repetition means kids will become more comfortable over time and able to anticipate (in a general way) what's coming next. Bottom line: Wonderbook: Book of Spells is unusual, magical, and memorable. We think young Harry Potter fans will be enchanted.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about consumerism. With brands as ubiquitous as Harry Potter, how do you determine which merchandise and content is worth your money and which products are enticing simply because they've been stamped with a recognizable logo or image?
Families can also discuss the magic of reading and books. What advantages come with reading a book instead of watching a movie or playing a game? Do you think the combination of reading and game-like elements makes for an even more immersive experience?