If you havenâ€™t used the Wonderbook before, hereâ€™s a really really quick recap:
Itâ€™s an experience that combines your PS3, TV, the PlayStation Eye, a Move controller, and a physical book with special graphics printed on it to create an augmented reality experience that really has no peers. You sit in front of the TV and flip through the book; you are then shown on the TV (along with the book and your living room), and extra things are added as if they're coming out of the pages of the book.
Simply put, it looks like magic is happening right in front of you, which is seriously cool. (Check out our review of Book of Spells from earlier this year for more info about the concept; it's a game that teaches you spells from the Harry Potter world, as you wave your wand and read a moving book, exactly as if youâ€™re one of Harryâ€™s classmates at Hogwarts.)
The second title to be released for Wonderbook is Diggs Nightcrawler, an interactive detective story for kids. It looks like a film noir cartoon adventure, and features nursery rhyme characters such as Itsy Bitsy spider, the Three Little Pigs, and Mother Goose, amongst others.
Diggs himself is an inchworm in a trenchcoat. Heâ€™s a private detective, thrust onto the case to try and work out who has bumped off his friend. (Humpty Dumpty, off a wall. He had a great fall, apparently.) Diggs has been framed for the murder of Humpty, so with the pigs on his tail (literally), heâ€™ll need your help to find the pieces of shell scattered around the surrounding area, so that he can help put Humpty together again . . . and clear his own name, of course.
The player is dragged into the action immediately, as Diggs notices you looking at him, and asks for your help with the case. He needs you to turn the book around, and turn the radio on by waving your hand. You can interact with similar objects, as well as spinning the book to view different areas of the many scenes, tilt it to dip a lamp over an area that needs illuminating, or by shouting and waving at the PlayStation Eye to let Diggs know when itâ€™s safe to break cover and make a dash for freedom.
From the get go, the art style and music set the scene perfectly, and Diggs has a certain world weary PI appeal that older members of the family will enjoy. There are moments of fantastic animation, sparkling dialogue, and great music throughout. Unfortunately there are a few clunkier moments as well. (Iâ€™m looking at you, Little Bo Peep.) Because Diggs Nightcrawler is not perfect. A few little hitches, pauses, and little glitches do take the sheen off an otherwise enjoyable title, which is a shame. For example, some of the dialogue is great - most of it, in fact. Occasionally there are genuinely funny lines, but also occasionally some awkward over-laboured bits that could have done with more of an edit.
That said, with the playful look and feel, the engaging storybook setting, and the sheer magic of using the WonderBook, Diggs can still get away with it, and be an enjoyable game for kids that adults will gain the occasional chuckle from. It would have been perfect with a little more polish and gameplay variety, but it still manages to be enjoyable, not too hard or scary for younger kids, and a nice looking game that adults hopefully shouldnâ€™t find too unbearable to play with the young â€˜uns.