In this, the fourth part to my impressions from the Eurogamer Expo I took a look at two of my biggest surprises of the show. Both the Wonderbook and The Unfinished Swan were on show and playable which gave us a chance to take a closer look at two titles that aren’t on everybody radar for different reasons and saw why they probably should be.
This was a big surprise at the show for me. I was expecting this to be a cheap and cheerful peripheral that would be yet another piece of kit that gets used for a week or two then gets put away in a cupboard and forgotten about. I think that’s pretty what most people thought about the Wonderbook and I don’t blame them. I don’t blame them that is until they actually get to have a proper look at it and get a hands on. This is actually a really well put together piece of tech that marketed right could sell by the bucket load. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t for everyone. The run of the mill Call of Duty fan will have no interest in this. it’s designed more for younger children.
The basics of the Wonderbook are that it’s a book with AR codes on each page that work together with the Playstation eye and the Playstation move to create interactive pages. Depending on the disk being used will depend on what game and that’s about the size of it. The only title we managed to have a hands on with was the J.K. Rowling title: Book Of Spells. Personally I would have liked to off seen an opening range of titles to use this but you can’t always have everything. Anyway, the Book Of Spells works really well. When using the book in your hand and looking at the screen you could never tell that there were actually AR codes there as it projects and overlay of a spell book that you can see on-screen. This looks amazing as with older attempts of AR codes on other devices have looked dodgy at best. They seem to float above the intended target and if the AR code is moved it takes a while to re adjust. The Wonderbook seems to have perfected this as it all moved so smoothly that i even had to remind myself that what I saw on-screen wasn’t actually on the book. Even as you hold the book the projected image wraps around your fingers to give a really great impression of a magical book. Use of the Playstation move controller with the Book Of Spells makes for an almost believable wand as you wave it about to conjour different spells on-screen and basically fall into the world that Playstation and J.K. Rowling have put on for you.
This is something that wont appeal to everyone but what I would ask is that you don’t knock it until you have tried it. The technology works and with the right catalogue of games and the right marketing, this could be an amazing toy for children of varying ages. I’m personally looking forward to letting my inner child loose when I get to have a go with the upcoming Walking With Dinosaurs title for the Wonderbook.
I had heard about The Unfinished Swan before coming to Eurogamer and to be honest I hadn’t given it much thought. It seemed pretty enough and would appeal to certain types of gamer but I didn’t feel that from what I had heard it would be something that I would want to try. That was until I walked past the Unfinished Swan stand. Its one of those games where if you catch a few moments of gameplay it draws you in. You cant help but watch some more and then you find yourself totally lost in the game. It’s a beautiful blend of art and gameplay. The premise of the game is that each level is completely white with no defining structures or anything for you to see until you throw your black paint. Only then can you start to see different obstacles and scenery around. Every now and again you see the golden footsteps of the swan which you are meant to follow. You throw your paint around to find your way across a level. It’s as simple as that. It’s a game that almost any age could play and fall in love with. Its simplistic in its idea yet amazing in its production and gameplay.
The Unfinished Swan will be the type of game you will play when you want to relax and have a change of pace from the usual type of games. I urge people to try a demo, see for yourself just what this wonderful little game can do and what you can get out of it.