Wonderbook a Potterhead's paradise

PS3's Book of Spells. (SUPPLIED)

PS3's Book of Spells. (SUPPLIED)

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:07 PM ET

It’s a tough time to be a Harry Potter fan. I’m assuming this, not speaking from personal experience. Maybe.

The books are all finished, the movies are done, the Blu-rays have been released and Potter creator J. K. Rowling has moved onto less magical pursuits, such as her first grown-up novel, The Casual Vacancy. I’ve not read it, but I’m led to believe there are no wizards in it. Not a one.

All is not lost, though. When Potter fans tire of reading erotic fanfic that sees Harry and Ron crossing wands in the Gryffindor dormitory, they might find some of the old magic lingering in Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

Book of Spells is an interesting blend of a video game and interactive storybook, designed to work with the PlayStation Move motion controller and PlayStation Eye camera. And it is surprisingly, delightfully nifty.

Written in part by Rowling herself, Book of Spells casts players as a new student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where they stumble across an old spellbook penned by Miranda Goshawk. After selecting their Hogwarts house (Ravenclaw forever!) and choosing a wand, players can learn spells, read stories and undertake simple skill-based challenges in the closest thing to a real-world Harry Potter experience that you’ll get in your living room. Unless you can, y’know, do actual magic.

The technology needs to be seen in action to be fully appreciated, but basically the PlayStation Eye camera shows the player and the Wonderbook prop (a 12-page, hardcover tome decorated with squiggly blue symbols) on the TV screen, and uses augmented reality to make the book appear to come to life, with pop-up 3D dioramas, animated text that floats in the air and spell effects that appear to shoot from the player’s wand.

Turning pages of the book by hand, players work their way through five two-part chapters, learning spells, delving into the history of the Potter universe, solving puzzles and undertaking challenges, with the ultimate goal of solving Miranda’s overarching conundrum.

The technology works consistently well, assuming you’re sitting on the floor in a reasonably well-lit room. But just as importantly, Book of Spells has clearly been crafted with the Potter fan in mind, featuring incantations, settings and characters taken straight from the books. The production values are top-notch, and while it’s aimed at kids aged around seven and up, adult Potterheads will likely geek out as well.

Sadly, shouting “expelliarmus!” will not knock the Move controller out of your child’s hand. You’ll just have to wait your turn.

Beware!

Not all Harry Potter video games are equally enchanting. We’ve asked for the Sorting Hat’s help to place the most recent Potter games into their proper Hogwarts houses.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells (PS3)

The Sorting Hat says: “Creative. Ingenious. Bold. GRYFFINDOR!”

LEGO Harry Potter Years 5 – 7 (all platforms)

The Sorting Hat says: “Witty. Charming. Clever. RAVENCLAW!”

Harry Potter for Kinect (Xbox 360)

The Sorting Hat says: “Loyal. Friendly. Uninspiring. HUFFLEPUFF!”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS)

The Sorting Hat says: “Clumsy. Lazy. Deceitful. SLYTHERIN!”


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