News Article

First Impressions: Wii U Panorama View

Posted by Mike Mason

Look around you

Wii U's ability to output different scenes to television and controller is something truly special, but many of the games we've seen have been content to use the GamePad's extra screen to provide an alternative take on the main display, or an inventory, or a map. Wii U Panorama View is a startling look at the possibilities of the new console; here you can break away from a single viewpoint to explore environments that completely surround you.

Panorama View isn't a game at all, but there are promising transferable skills just waiting to be used. It's a collection of videos – sadly not high definition – filmed with a special 360 degree panoramic camera array. Every angle of a scene has been filmed simultaneously, rather than a single direction as is tradition, and that means that you can look whichever way you want, whenever you want. You're the director.

By default the television remains static on the front-facing view, while the GamePad becomes an enticing window that lets you see each part of the scene. Hold it up towards the TV and you'll see the same view. Move it anywhere around you – up, down, left, right, above, below, behind – and you can check out a different angle. The only place you can't look is directly beneath you, where the camera would have been positioned.

The effect, even in fuzzy standard definition, is absolutely breathtaking. It's one thing to see it or have it described, but it's another thing entirely to use it: there's no lag, and you can flawlessly search around wherever you want. It's a completely new way to view video content, and if it's applied to a game world it could be one of the most immersive things to happen to gaming. We drool at the prospect of being enveloped in a Metroid Prime-style world in this way. This is something that, shown off properly, has real potential to sell Wii U.

One scene had the camera set in the middle of a Rio de Janeiro festival march. On the TV you could see the procession of dancers and floats coming towards you, but by moving the GamePad it was possible to follow along as it stomped past and watch the furthermost parts strut off into the distance behind you. Another hung the camera from a hang glider, giving you the chance to peer upon tiny settlements below and fly among Canadian geese, while others let you survey the streets of London from a double decker bus and take in the sights of Kyoto's cherry blossoms. We really hope these, or whatever videos are included, are bumped up to HD resolutions for the proper release.

Your Mii is displayed in the bottom corner of the television, shuffling around to show off which direction you're looking; it's possible to change the television's view so that it matches whatever's on the GamePad screen, too, so that you might entertain an audience. You can zoom in on points of interest, flip the GamePad between horizontal and vertical modes to get a better look, and save your playthrough to rewatch later. At the end of each video a summary pops up, 'scoring' what you spent the most time looking at and displaying screenshots of the top three. It's perhaps best if you don't keep your eyes on those dancers for too long lest you fancy a ribbing from anybody else watching.

It's not clear what Nintendo has planned for Panorama View. In its current form it shouldn't be a retail title; it probably shouldn't even be an eShop title. It might do well as a pre-installed application, used to demonstrate Wii U to people in the same way as the augmented reality games on 3DS; perhaps as a portal to further downloadable video content like the handheld's 3D Video service. What is obvious, though, is that it's hugely impressive and could be the first glimpse of an exciting future.

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User Comments (37)

RaylaxStaff

#1

Raylax said:

This could make for some properly amazing gameplay experiences. Like Metroid Prime, rightly said. And what's more, it should be a really easy thing to implement in games - just set up a second camera docked to the gyro - we already know that the Wii U can comfortably render two scenes at once.

ZombiU already looks like it could make good use of this, will be interested to see if the scanner in that lets you spin around to quickly check what's behind you.

ajcismo

#4

ajcismo said:

This was one of the things that really interested me in the Wii U. It also seems to be something that the usual "Nintendo haters" don't talk about while they're busy going on about horsepower and how many FPS's a system can have out at once. Its different and something that the PS360s simply can't imitate.
The applications of this could really be something special and unique, Metroid or Pokemon Snap being a prime example of proper usage. Hell, imagine an updated Tank sim in a multi-player capacity, one guy drives and fires a front machine gun with the main tv screen, the other uses the PV to move the turret and fire the big gun while on the move. Even something like a fishing game could use something like this and make a multi-player mode kinda interesting and fun.
Hopefully its utilized by more than just 1st party devs. Can't wait to try it.

iphys

#6

iphys said:

This would be so much cooler if you could use the 3DS to look around and see everything in 3D.

Wheels2050

#7

Wheels2050 said:

I admit I'll probably have to see this in person to make a judgement, but doesn't it feel a little bit weird that this world 'exists' around you, but you can only see a little bit of it through the gamepad at any one time?

I just feel it might be a bit odd if you're looking at your loungeroom instead of the in-game surroundings if you're not viewing the gamepad screen - sort of immersion breaking, if you will.

bro2dragons

#8

bro2dragons said:

I would like this to be a free download on the eShop so that it A) doesn't take up internal memory space if you don't want it to, and B) is another incentive (like the free 3DS downloads) to connect your system to the internet.

FonistofCruxis

#10

FonistofCruxis said:

Making this a pre-installed app would be a good idea and it would be cool to see what developers do with this. It could lead to some really interesting experiences.

TrueWiiMaster

#11

TrueWiiMaster said:

Definitely hoping this comes pre-installed on the Wii U. It looks pretty awesome, and if it were to get more videos as DLC, even paid DLC, it could be a go-to app. It would be great to expand the application to more than just real world videos too. Imagine using this while riding atop a dragon from How To Train Your Dragon (great movie), perhaps with other dragons flying by. Maybe you could even steer your dragon and explore a large, computer generated world. The possibilities are endless. One thing's for sure though, and that's that Wii U Panorama View would be perhaps the best way to show off the Wii U to newcomers. Not putting it on the system from day 1 would be a mistake.

Birthday_Boy

#12

Birthday_Boy said:

This needs to be Pre-installed for the Wii u for 2 reasons
1: It shows off the console in an impressive way, like Face Raiders
2: I don't think too many people will buy it, underestimating how cool this actually is.

grimbldoo

#13

grimbldoo said:

This got me thinking, I would love if they made the flying parts of Kid Icarus a "4D" experience.

lanabanana

#15

lanabanana said:

At first i though u could move the Gamepad around when you're watching some TV show. It would've been cool to see what people do behind the scenes XP. Anyway, I think this app should be pre-installed just like Face Raiders on the 3DS. :P

WaxxyOne

#16

WaxxyOne said:

There's potential here too for some of that "asymmetrical gameplay" they're raving about currently. A game like Super Mario Galaxy could optionally support a second player using the pad while the first player uses the standard controller, and the second player could communicate objectives or warn the player of incoming danger from another direction. They could even help out by stunning enemies and collecting coins (or whatever) just like the 2nd player can currently do with Mario Galaxy 1/2, but now they wouldn't be locked to the 1st player's view.

There are many possibilities that an imaginative developer could pursue with this kind of tech.

Knuckles

#17

Knuckles said:

Nintendo Power listed this game as a retail release, not e-Shop or pre-installed app.

PokeTune

#18

PokeTune said:

This could be a really good idea if we could look into the worlds of Nintendo`s IPs.(Like for example,you could look through the Game pad to look into the planet Samus is exploring or looking at the insides of a temple in Zelda).

NintyMan

#19

NintyMan said:

This is one of the most intriguing features of the Wii U to me. Several games can use this pretty well. It could be used in Zelda dungeon exploring, first-person games, or even in minigames like in Game & Wario and Nintendo Land. I actually hope there's a minigame in Game & Wario that uses it, since that game will show off how the Wii U gamepad can be innovative.

Emaan

#21

Emaan said:

There's just too much potential with this here, Nintendo really needs to capitalize on this as a main feature for the Wii U.

Highlar

#22

Highlar said:

When I first saw this in videos of E3, it brought back memories for me as a child: going to Epcot Center with my father and brother, and certain of the World Showcase experiences. In particular, in the Canadian experience. It was a 360 degree movie...a circular movie theater...where you could turn and view the scene from all angles. That is the first thing I thought of when seeing this, and I was extremely excited for it and the possibilities. Being able to view a movie in 360 (or almost) like this really is an amazing experience. Even as a full retail "game" I'd probably get this, from a personal perspective.

mudjo

#23

mudjo said:

I don't know why, but this seems a bit familiar...

I think that somebody else has already done this with the iPad or PSP or something.

Ducutzu

#24

Ducutzu said:

It's a fantastic concept, and one that has the potential to quickly convince the non-gaming parts of the family that the Wii U was worth purchasing.

Cyrso

#25

Cyrso said:

Yes Nintendo, you said gameplay above graphics (which is a bit obvious for a game, but graphics are important too anyways) <.<

Why has this been developed into a full 'game'?

MAB

#26

MAB said:

Mario Kart Double Dash - off/online races with a friend by your side taking out other players while looking behind the driver :)

GameLord08

#28

GameLord08 said:

@NintendoMaster: You do realise this is Nintendo we're discussing here, not so?

This looks incredible. Make this a pre-installed app on the Wii U, and I'm sold. I'd also love to see this kind of experience implemented in games by one or two developers.

rjejr

#29

rjejr said:

First thing I thought of when I saw this at E3 was the shooting levels in Rabbids - the one in the real life city w/ the Rabbids popping up in it. So expect this in the next, if not the first, Rabbids game.
And yes, like FaceRaiders, this seems more suited to the Gamepad alone rather than in tandem w/ the tv. I just got a Hasbro 3D viewer for my iPod Touch and the space shooting game is alot of fun, though you apparently look like a complete idiot while playing it on the beach.

Kage_88

#30

Kage_88 said:

The possibilities are dazzling. I can't wait to see how Nintendo will incorporate this tech into their games (as well as othe inventive devs like Hideo Kojima, Suda51 and the indie folk).

It'd be great for an on-rails title...Starfox, anyone?

LavaTwilight

#31

LavaTwilight said:

I think this looks really interesting and I love games that allow you to explore and such but from what I've seen of this it can't possibly be a retail game. If it is then there needs to be some huge development going on that we simply don't know about yet... maybe what we've seen is just the beginning!
If not and this truly is it I don't see me spending anything more than 500wii points on it or the equivilent (£3.50) so I'd love to see it built into the WiiU's harddrive.

akabenjy

#32

akabenjy said:

I'm thinking how beautiful an Endless Ocean game could look on the Wii U using the panorama view.

CommanderAudio

#33

CommanderAudio said:

(goes back to E3 2012 day to unfacepalm)

If Nintendo use this correctly, this could be absolutley stunning. Things like @akabenjy 's suggestion could blow peoples minds if used the right way

OorWullie

#34

OorWullie said:

@akabenjy Ha,I was thinking just the same thing.Scrolled through the comments first to see if anyone had mentioned it.
I don't understand why they didn't event mention this at E3!If it can be utilised in gameplay this may be the most impressive thing about the Gamepad and could really take gaming to a whole different level.

James

#36

James said:

One of the most impressive tech demos I've seen. Really, really cool.

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