Despite the long, slightly awkward showing of Book of Spells at E3 (Sony’s first interactive title under the Wonderbook brand) my whole family stayed optimistic about it. The premise, an interactive book that lets you learn and cast spells, was a genius starting point. My son was more than happy to devote more of his time to helping our cause here at Vagary with another Kids Corner review. Except, instead of getting my hands dirty this time, I simply let him have all of the fun.
Wonderbook comes packaged with the game Book of Spells and a large book full of AR cards. After a short install and Move calibration (yes, this requires the Move camera and wand), things fire up. The game itself has several instances where it takes a “living photo”, which is quite neat. Basically, it records a few seconds of you doing your thing, then adds an aged filter and slows down the playback. These are littered throughout the game experience, including when you select your profile upon booting up Book of Spells.
The basic premise of the game is built around a simple formula: listen to the narrator talk about a spell, go through an interactive story about the spell, practice the spell, then put said-spell to use. Each chapter has a series of spells, followed by a test at the end that mixes all of the spells learned in the chapter.
While the story arc continues from chapter to chapter, the interactive stories for each spell had our whole family laughing as my son played through them. My youngest son, three, would even stop playing with his toys and watch. These stories are played out with cardboard cut-out puppets, and throughout you are given a choice between two options, such as whether to take out a guys teeth or take his underwear off. One option is right, but they will play out the wrong version too, which tends to be just as funny as the correct answer. The style plays a lot into the charm of the story, as well.
Spells have a name that the narrator will tell you, but you can’t just say a name to cast the spell (that would be a little too awesome). Instead, each spell is associated with a motion, such as a J-shape (levitate) or a line up (shield). These are rather easy to pull off, but on a few occasions the motions didn’t register. It only happened a few times each play session, which caused some frustration, but my oldest son just tried again and it moved on.
At the end of the day, Book of Spells is a great source of family entertainment. It’s fun for those watching, as the narration and storytelling is enough to grab the attention of parents and little kids alike while keeping the player engaged with various motion gestures. It is rather sad that nothing else has been announced under the Wonderbook brand, as the first entry was a solid effort.