[NYCC 2012] Preview: Wonderbook 'Book of Spells' is just as cool as I thought it would be
When Sony first unveiled Wonderbook at E3 2012, I was one of the few to proudly proclaim it a good idea. The concept of taking a book and applying augmented reality to create a fun, interactive experience was genius to me. Unfortunately, at E3 the Wonderbook got kind of a bad wrap due to either expectations of Sony announcing a new console, or the minor flub they had with the responsiveness during the demo.
Despite the setback, I maintained the Wonderbook was a creative idea that would appeal to not only children, but fans of interactive storytelling. Now that I've officially had some hands-on time with the Wonderbook, I can safely defend my original stance.
At the Sony press event at New York Comic Con 2012, I had a brief gameplay demo of Wonderbook: Book of Spells, the first title to release for the new product. For those unfamiliar, Book of Spells is an enchanted textbook filled with dozens of spells from the world of Harry Potter. Developed by London Studio in collaboration with J.K. Rowling, Book of Spells, offers Harry Potter fans a chance to learn some-20 different spells, along with the history behind them.
For Harry Potter fans, this is likely a dream come true. You really don't need me to convince you that anything Harry Potter is awesome. But for you skeptics out there, let me just tell you how surprised I was with how responsive the Wonderbook actually was. It was far removed from the buggy E3 demo, and instead picked up my every movement. There were a few times I was confused as to where to point the wand, but for the most part it did a decent job of tracking my movements.
In terms of gameplay, Wonderbook: Book of Spells lends itself quite nicely to a younger audience. Adult fans will find joy, but it's clearly designed with kids in mind. The game has you flip through pages of the book and learn new spells by tracing a motion. You then take what you learned and apply it to a new page. For instance, I had to use my disarm spell (Expelliarmus) to remove the wands of witches. The aiming was a little inconsistent and somewhat difficult to predict, but it does work. For precise gamers, you'll likely be annoyed, but for children I can just see them loving being a wizard.
Outside of Book of Spells, the potential behind Wondebook is definitely there - not just in terms of entertainment, but education as well. An interactive device that makes learning fun is something I can quickly see parents hopping on. Who wouldn't want their kid to learn while playing games? If Sony can market the Wonderbook properly and clean up some of the glitches in motion tracking, the Wonderbook can be a hit. It's not quite there yet, but it's definitely more responsive than I thought.
The Wonderbook, along with Book of Spells, will be available on November 13, 2012. You can find pricing details here.