A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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'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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3
- Subjects: Arts: acting, movement, theater
Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
- Skills: Creativity: imagination, innovation
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
Thinking & Reasoning: investigation, memorization, problem solving
- Price: $39.99, $79.99 (game + Move controller)
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: November 13, 2012
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Alcohol Reference, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.