Game review: Book of Spells

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes

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Swish and flick your way to the top of the Hogwarts class in Wonderbook: Book of Spells. Photo / Supplied
Swish and flick your way to the top of the Hogwarts class in Wonderbook: Book of Spells. Photo / Supplied

Is it a book? Is it a game? It's Superm... I mean, it's Wonderbook.

Setting the very first Wonderbook title inside the walls of Hogwarts is a clever move, providing a real-world parallel to the trials of novice witches and wizards. As the youngsters of JK Rowling's fantasy world thumb through their textbooks and flick their wands, so do you because the Wonderbook is an actual book. Plop it down in front of your PS3's Eye camera, whip out the Move controller and, before a hairy half-giant can say you're a wizard, you're on your way to an education in both Wonderbook and spellcasting.

The Eye camera puts you on the screen, changes your Move controller into a wooden wand, and that Wonderbook before you becomes a living document full of animated scenery, flashes of light and thunder, and even patches of dust and muck that need to be wiped or shaken away.

The Book of Spells experience is a loosely-tied collection of stories and animations which set out the origins behind some of the Harry Potter universe's best-known spells, and the motions and incantations that you'll need to pull them off.

The magical trickery is fun, though forgiving in a way that's possibly unintentional. I repeated Ron Weasley's famous mealy-mouthed mispronunciations of the levitation spell and was rewarded with success after success, but I suppose it wouldn't do much for confidence if the telly kept telling you off.

Of course, the teacher in the telly will keep telling you off if you're slow to complete a task, and the repetitious warnings do get in the way of all the magic - and what magic there is. The game-book is an ambitious companion to the novels and films, with astonishing visuals matched by a wonderful, atmospheric, musical score. It is almost as Potter as Potter could get, except the star of this adventure is you, right there in the middle of the screen.

Giving the first turn of the page and flick of the wrist to JK Rowling and her hyperproductive imagination is a masterstroke, and this unique take on one of modern literature's great institutions is almost as good as the idea. It's more of a semi-soft introduction to Wonderbook rather than a deep and thorough examination of its potential, and it might not draw many new fans from the Muggle ranks. However serious Potter fans should have a spellbinding experience.

Platform: PlayStation 3
Classification: PG
Rating: 3.5/5

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