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TDS attends Harry Potter Wonderbook: Book of Spells London Launch, full report

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The Daily Snitcher attended a launch event in London for JK Rowling's Wonderbook: Book of Spells this weekend, getting the chance to play the PS3 AR console and watch others play the game and interact with the book set. TDS' correspondent Melissa was at the event with full details --

The Freemasons Hall was an appropriate location to launch the brand new Harry Potter Playstation game, the Sony Wonderbook: Book of Spells. The Hogwarts style building hosted an event for families to come and test out the new game. In order to be able to test the game a series of challenges had to be undertaken, completing the challenges enabled individuals to gain access to the restricted section of the library to sample the new game. Families were treated to easier tasks such as having a photograph taken with a real life owl to more difficult tasks such as guessing the correct answer to riddles which members of each of the Hogwarts houses set. Once all tasks had been completed families gained access to the restricted section which boasted a Honeydukes style sweet shop and of course the main prize of playing on the new Wonderbook: Book of Spells game.

The Sony Wonderbook due for UK release November 2012 is the first video game to combine the latest AR technology with the Playstation move. It is also the first game to be released from the partnership that Sony has with Pottermore. The concept of the game is that you are a student of Hogwarts School who has gained permission to obtain the Book of Spells from the restricted section of the library. Although it is being presented that the book has been wrote by Miranda Goshawk, in fact all the information and extra reading has come straight from J.K. Rowling which makes the game even more engaging. The book takes you through all the well known Harry Potter spells such as, Alohomora, Lumos and Expelliarmus teaching you step by step how to cast them whilst giving you information about each spell.

Once learnt the games takes you to a challenge where you can test your newly learnt skills, for example, once you have learnt Wingardium Leviosa you are taken to the Herbology greenhouses to pot mandrakes. By completing these challenges and learning spells you earn points for your house. At the end of each chapter your wand skills will be tested. Your house is determined either by linking your Pottermore account to the game or by simply selecting a house at the beginning of the game. A lot of similarities to the Harry Potter series can be found whilst playing the book such as the moving avatar you create whilst setting up your profile.

The game itself uses augmented reality through the Playstation’s eye.  When you get the opportunity to practice spells you are literally placed in the game. You are able to see yourself on the television screen with your surroundings being the challenge that was set. An example of this is when you learn to levitate a jar appears in your own room! The move controller is very easy to use and acts perfectly as your wand throughout the game.  At many points during the game it becomes easy to forget that you’re not casting the spells with a wand but in fact using the eye controller! The Book of Spells also enables a very hands on approach to the game with you needing to turn pages of the book or wipe away dirt that you can see on your book on the screen, from the pages.

Older fans of Harry Potter will appreciate the new technology that the game uses and being able to cast spells themselves but I feel that for older fans the novelty will soon wear off. However for younger fans, which the game is targeted at, I feel that the game is perfect. Watching the target audience play the book at the launch proved the book to be particularly engaging. Children around the room were laughing at the stories, dusting feathers off the book, eagerly turning pages and of course casting spells, all whilst a permanent grin remained on their faces. The game will be priced at around £30 for the game and book and £70 for a starter pack which includes everything that the game needs to play. Younger children will most certainly get hours of enjoyment out of this game so I definitely feel it’s one to be added to Christmas lists.



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