Now that they cost less than a cheeseburger, they’re actually worth considering…
Point me towards a clearance bin full of cheap DVDs with titles like The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy or Master of the Flying Guillotine, and I’ll fill up two shopping bags while the clerk tries to stifle his laughter. Of course, my foolish buying habits aren’t restricted to films; I can make equally idiotic purchasing decisions about video games. For evidence, just take a look at last week’s Video Vulture column, in which I tried out my recently acquired (yet hilariously outdated) gaming peripheral, the PlayStation Move.
This week, I’ve uncovered what I believe might be the two oddest games made for the PlayStation Move. Of course, “game” isn’t exactly the right term for Book of Spells and Yoostar 2. They’re really more like apps, and will probably hold your attention for the same amount of time as that whooshing lightsaber program you have on your smartphone.
Book of Spells actually requires both the Move controller and an additional peripheral called a “Wonderbook,” thoughtfully included in the oversized box. It’s an actual hardbound book with 12 sturdy cardboard “pages,” only the entire thing is covered with powder blue symbols readable only by your game console. The idea is, you sit in front of the PlayStation Eye, holding your book, and you can see yourself on your television, holding a mystical tome that crackles with magical electricity, or belches fire. Mind you, the software does not alter your own appearance at all, so this is yet another PlayStation Move game that you probably shouldn’t play naked.
The game also changes the appearance of the Move controller. In your hand, it looks like a hunk of overpriced plastic, but on TV, it looks like a clumsily rendered CGI magic wand, trailing crackling lines of eldritch power when you wave it. Open the Wonderbook to a certain page, and the book will walk you through how to cast various spells by waving your glowing toy in the air while shouting vaguely Latin gibberish into your webcam. Alakazam!
There only seems to be two other games available for the Wonderbook; a film noir mystery for children called Diggs Nightcrawler, and an educational app based on the popular Walking with Dinosaurs franchise. This bizarre chunk of paper byproducts cost a ludicrous $70 when it first came out, but now, Best Buy has a huge stack of unsold Book of Spells bundles for $3.95 each! It’s a genuine J.K. Rowling-endorsed product — there’s even a bit of nonsense at the beginning in which you’re expected to choose which House you’re in at Hogwarts. (I told the game I was Hufflepuff, and it registered surprise that I was capable of doing any useful spellcasting at all.) Harry Potter fans looking for a cheap yet collectible toy that’s going to be extremely hard to find in a month or two should grab one while they can.
Then, there’s Yoostar 2. Hoo boy. This ridiculous bit of software is a means to insert yourself into any of the 80 movie clips included on the disc. It describes itself as “Movie Karaoke,” and it encourages you to act out scenes from 300 and Casablanca, digitally removing Gerard Butler and Humphrey Bogart to make room for your grinning face. The technology actually works reasonably well, although I wish there were a way to see the clips full frame instead of in a small window. The game encourages you to try and match the original actor’s tone and inflection, but where’s the fun in that? Better to just fill every single movie with drunken swearing, I think. Or, do a whole series of film clips starring your own made-up characters. “Hairy Naked Guy theatre presents… Meet the Parents!”
Originally, there was a website that collected all the terrible home videos spawned by this product, but it hasn’t existed since 2012. I guess that means that any catastrophically humiliating videos you record with Yoostar 2 will be your little secret — as long as nobody else touches your PlayStation.