HomeVideo GamesWonderbook: Book of Spells - Review

Wonderbook: Book of Spells – Review


Title: Wonderbook: Book of Spells
Developed By: SCE London Studio / J.K. Rowling
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Based On: The Harry Potter novel/film series
Console: Playstation 3 w/ Playstation Move
Genre: Augmented Reality
Review Conditions: Playstation 3, Physical Media
Special Thanks: Sony Computer Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this title to review

Written by Miranda Goshawk over two hundred years ago, Book of Spells can be found in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library. It is an advanced textbook for students which will assist them on their journey to becoming an accomplished witch or wizard.


So your 11th Birthday has come and gone, and you did not receive a letter inviting you to enroll at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is a problem that every Harry Potter fan faces on their 11th Birthday, but this latest release from SCE London Studios and J.K. Rowling is set to lighten the blow a little bit by letting you grab hold of a wand, open a magical textbook and cast some spells made popular by the series.

Announced during their E3 2012 panel despite some complaints that time may have been better spent on other games – Sony Computer Entertainment showcased the Wonderbook accessory for the Playstation 3 / Move. Consisting of a 12 page book filled with large AR codes from front to back cover, it was hoped that this technology would allow gamers (Especially from the younger market) to embrace a new medium for delivering interactive storybook adventures of varying degrees. Book of Spells, developed in collaboration with acclaimed author J.K. Rowling is the first in a line of titles currently planned for the platform.

Given it was the first game for the platform how did it perform? I wouldn’t say it perfected the game aspect but what it did deliver was a unique experience that they could easily build upon in future releases. Here is my review of Wonderbook: Book of Spells!



You play as yourself if you were a Hogwarts student, or more specifically if you are a member of the Pottermore – your personae through that service. One day you have made your way to the restricted section of the Hogwarts library and been sprung by one of the unnamed Hogwarts professors. After being found, an owl approaches with a letter authorizing you to read the Book of Spells by  acclaimed witch Miranda Goshawk. Spread over five chapters, the Book of Spells serves to introduce the reader to 20 key spells that every upcoming witch and wizard should know… but by itself that would be pretty boring given a textbook isn’t usually the source for a good storyline right?

Unlike I assume other Wonderbook stories which are in development, Book of Spells serves more to introduce and highlight the capabilities of the Wonderbook technology rather than deliver the full storyline experience… however several unique short storylines from the mind of J.K. Rowling worked their ways into the game. At the end of each chapter you are served with a conundrum, an aspect of a witch or wizard which did not show in an individual Miranda Goshawk knew and ended in a less than happy manner. Unfortunately while this served as the main storyline driving force of the game it resulted in very little overall. On the other hand, the descriptions and bonus texts associated for each of the spells fit right into the Harry Potter universe and were interesting to listen to, although would be more enjoyable to a younger or newcomer reader to the series. Most notable however were paper theater stories that appeared once or twice every chapter, which delivered a more detailed plot surrounding a particular spell (Eg. The history behind Alohomora).

In the end, the game is aimed at younger fans than older ones. While I personally would have gone with a more complex delivery of the storyline which I am almost certain J.K. Rowling is more than capable of providing… given the target audience I think they did a solid job at making the storyline all-ages and almost all-reading age friendly.



When you begin the game you are provided with the option to link your game file with a Pottermore account. While this began to sound promising, the game only has minimal integration with the site and only carries over your house (Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin) and the description of your wand. From there you are given access to the book and aside from Chapters 1 and 5 you are free to explore any of them at will with a total of 20 spells to unlock.

The biggest draw is being able to learn and cast the spells, and for each you are generally provided with a blurb describing/detailing the origins of the spell with often witty dialogue, another tidbit of information and a lesson on how to pronounce and cast the spell. Pronouncing the spell…. worked a total of 1/20 times for me and felt to be very inaccurate, but fortunately outside of the pronunciation sections you were not required to scream the spell command each time you cast it. On the other hand casting the spells consisted of different movements of the wand while holding the Move button on your controller. Aside from similarities for some of the spells and the occasional mis-identification of “wand movements” it was an easy concept to grasp and worked well for a game of this nature. For all of this you are guided by a narrator who explains and reads most of the text in the game.

Unfortunately outside of a few occasions there are very few spells that you can actually do much with. Some of the spells such as the bird summoning charm will summon augmented reality birds while the water summoning spell will allow you to douse the book / narrator with a jet of water emerging from your wand, but especially in the latter half many of the spells do very little visually. Where you do use them however are in tasks set by the book, two pertaining to specific spells in each chapter and a final one making use of all four spells for the chapter. As you can see in the image above, these usually take place in a reality conjured by the book and involve everything from warding off dementors to disarming witches and wizards. They are fun challenges which are ranked by how many house points you receive, but are limited in scope and never go past the four spells for the chapter.

Overall, while it might not be the game that every Harry Potter fan was looking for or expecting, it highlighted the potential for the Wonderbook format and did offer a solid gameplay experience targeted more towards the younger fans. If anything, I would say Wonderbook: Book of Spells was less of a game and more of an experience…. an experience that I hope to see more of in the coming months.



While the visuals from the Playstation Eye camera do show their age, the visuals implemented as part of the game are of a really high quality. Recognition of the book and the AR codes were handled well from the front cover to the final pages. The contents of each page despite a few hiccups were visually appealing and full of life and occasionally threw in an interesting visual effect from a pit within the pages of the book to leaves and damage requiring hand gestures and spells to fix. While the realms that the challenges take part in were a welcome addition, I would have preferred a few more designs given how few challenges there were in the end and how many seemed to take place in the Herbology Lab.

Music / Voice Acting

The musical score included in this game was strong and captured the same feel and quality that the film releases had. While there were relatively few voice cast members in the game, the handful that did appear in the game were appropriate at setting the tone and carrying the dialogue.

Final Words

A less complex approach and a very limited integration with Pottermore may limit the value of Wonderbook: Book of Spells with most older Harry Potter fans. However, there is still quite a bit on offer for all age groups and it showed just what the Wonderbook may have install for us over the coming months and years.

Final Score
Storyline/Character Development: C+
Design: B+
Music/Voice Acting: B
Gameplay: C
Replayability: C-
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B-

Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fifteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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