Fluxlings Review Wonderbook: Book of Spells for Sony Playstation PS3

Christmas has come early in the fluxlings household it seems. Or at least, an enchanted spooky version of festive cheer, with the arrival of the new Wonderbook for Sony Playstation 3.

 

 

Attending the launch of the Wonderbook: Book of Spells was a treat in itself in the opulent, neo-gothic surroundings of London’s Freemason’s Hall, after a smooth train trip down from Manchester in first class. Surrounded by dress-up characters from school masters to circus performers to knights in armour, welcomed by a huge owl at the foot of the twisting stone staircase, old-time photobooths, Victorian sweetie stalls and shadow puppet theatre set the scene for the latest must have for all Potter addicts.

In contrast to the olde-worlde tension of the launch surroundings, the Wonderbook is modern and exotically new. This is the most fun interactive, engrossing computing I’ve seen in ages. Book of Spells is based around a story created with J. K. Rowling about an actual spellbook written by Miranda Goshawk over two hundred years ago that has been hidden in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library. It is an advanced textbook for students, which will assist them on their journey to becoming an accomplished witch or wizard. The Book of Spells guides students through a world of magic, teaching and practising spells and then using them to complete some exiting tasks at the end of each chapter.

 

 

The Wonderbook works in conjunction with the Playstation Eye camera that perches on top of your tv screen, and the Playstation Motion Controller – which for the Book of Spells is transformed on screen into your very own a wand! The player’s image and living room comes alive within the game on the screen, becoming an underwater world in the Bubble Head Spell, or the dwelling place of dragons.

Billed by Sony as a whole new way of reading, you are reading with Wonderbook, but it’s not like any kind of reading you’ve done before. In Wonderbook: Book of Spells use the wand to pull up the text from illuminated spheres, and then watch the letters dance and move to form the stories and instructions that lead you through the Book of Spells experience. And the link with the Harry Potter series with its undeniable attraction to the youngsters with its wizard protagonists, is a sure fire winner. Wonderbook: Book of Spells features new writing by J. K. Rowling making sure it has a real Potter feel. Kids – and adults for that matter – can learn how to cast spells from the books like as Incendio, Wingardium Leviosa and Expelliarmus, as well as discover mischievous notes and spells scribbled into the margins by previous Hogwarts students.

The beauty of this is its pure interactivity. The player can wave the wand to cast the spells, and then to shoot fire at demons, or spray water all over the book. The narrator asks you to wipe dirt from a page of the book, so you wipe it and lo and behold, mud flies off and splatters over your on screen carpet. Or with the water making spell hose the inside of the tv screen which cascades with water. Of course, the kids love seeing themselves on the screen in the heart of the action. Fluxling #1 who is six now, after a bit of time practising, is soon flashing about with the wand casting spells, winning trophies, lighting up hidden creatures, levitating frogs, smashing pumpkins (with the Engorgion spells that makes them grow and grow and grow until they explode) and burning dragons (with the Incendio spell!). It’s a pure delight. There are five levels and four spells to learn on every level, plus a whole gamut of other enthralling tasks that mean the player is kept spellbound – plus there’s a very high show off factor with this for friends and cousins.

If like us you’ve been hesitating about letting your kids start getting into computer games, this is a great family oriented introduction. The technology is just amazing, using the combination of the Playstation Eye, the Playstation Move and the Wonderbook itself to open up a whole world of interactivity. The possibilities with this are endless and it’s great to be on board at the beginning. Book of Spells is an enchanting, otherworldy treat, not quite computer game, not quite book. The graphics are magical and pull you in to the Potter world, as well as transforming your world and letting the kids live in the stories for an hour or two.

J.K. Rowling said, “Wonderbook: Book of Spells is the closest a Muggle can come to a real spellbook. I’ve loved working with Sony’s creative team to bring my spells, and some of the history behind them, to life. This is an extraordinary device that offers a reading experience like no other.” We tend to agree – a fabulous entertainment treat for Christmas this year.

Further information about Wonderbook: Book of Spells can be found at www.playstation.com.

Fluxlings travelled from Manchester to London courtesy of Virgin Trains, with departures every 20 minutes. Typical travel time is 2 hours 8 minutes and advance ticket prices can be purchased from £12.50. For journey information or to book tickets visit www.virgintrains.com or call 08719 774 222.