Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views

By Jorge Ba-oh 07.05.2013 4

Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion

The Wii U GamePad is designed to bring brand new experiences to the living room, and one of these is the ability to explore the world with Wii U Panorama View.

The new software, released as downloads on the Nintendo Wii U eShop, allows players to explore pre-rendered video sequences as if you were there. Whether it's with a squadron of birds high up in the sky or driving through the bustling London town, the experience aims to invite players to sit within these virtual worlds. By moving the GamePad and using the inbuilt gyro/motion sensors, viewers are able to look around the footage, as if the controller were your eyes, in 360 degrees.

The TV itself can either show what's on the controller, or an overview of the video tour for families to watch together. The player with the controller can then pick out the details by zooming in on key landmarks or the hottie sitting on the top of a double decker bus, for example. Tapping the shoulder triggers gives a quick glance of whatever's behind, which could be a fellow bird or the knowledgeable chap who knows everything about the UK's capital city.

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Whilst Panorama View does offer a new way of exploring the world through an interactive video experience, it does falter when it comes to the actual video and sound quality. Despite the newer motion technology, the video quality across the current Panorama View selection is weak. On the GamePad screen the footage is not crisp enough to bring out any of the more subtle details, and likewise on an HD screen the sequences tend to look dated. That said, the act of standing (or sitting) and looking around these environments does have its merits if you can look beyond the low video quality and presentation issues.

Each of the individual video sequences are available as separate downloads on the Nintendo Wii U eShop for $2 / €1.99 or £1.79. There is also a demo available for a taster of just what's to offer from Panorama View.

Jorge Ba-oh and Rudy Lavaux take each of the four Wii U Panorama Views for a spin - can Nintendo bring the feeling of the real thing to the living room?

Double Decker Tour Around London - Jorge Ba-oh

If there's any City you must visit at least once in a lifetime, it has to be good old London town. The bustling, historical and vibrant capital of the United Kingdom is home to centuries of invention, entertainment, war and global culture that it's almost impossible to absorb everything within a single visit. There are open top bus tours that, with a help of a narrator, bring out key aspects of the city that are worthy to have gander at and take a picture of.

Nintendo have created a short taster of what London has to offer by bringing out these key landmarks in the Wii U Panorama View experience. We begin by soaring through the busy streets past Parliament, the iconic Big Ben clock, whisking through the inner city and over Tower Bridge, plodding along through the shopping hubs of Oxford Street and culminating into a powerful night time shot along the River Thames. As one of the passengers on-board, players are able to use the Wii U GamePad as their virtual eyes, tilting and twisting about the view just what the City has to offer.

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Oddly at points the video kicks in "double speed", where the commentary is turned off momentarily and the action literally fast-forwards infront of your eyes. A strange cost and time saving measure that eats into the footage without warning, dampening the experience for those who just want to take it slow and have a true look around. The finer details are there to pick out when the footage returns to regular speed though, with the second analogue stick used to zoom in on the more interesting aspects of the tour. That said there's still very little information here as the commentary itself sounds as if it were funnelled through an old fashioned phone and recorded with all the wind and environmental noise seeping into it. Not the best presentation efforts my any means, really letting down the educational aspect of the sequence quite considerably. The option to slow the tour down and point out key landmarks for more information could have been a real extra bonus to strengthen the appeal of Panorama View, especially in a city with so much history.

As with the other tours, the video quality itself is weak. The filming and shot selections, apart from the sped up parts, have been captured well but viewing on current HD screens and even on the Wii U GamePad itself screams of dated, increasingly archaic means of video presenting. The concept certainly needs improving as the Double Decker Tour is potentially the weakest out of the bunch; it does the business but feels rushed and very much compressed.

Tour score: 6/10

Birds in Flight -Rudy Lavaux

This time you embark on a microlight that takes you to the skies, and then a boat taking you over the Mediterranean Sea, all the while following a flock of Canada geese in flight. Those who watched the 1996 film Fly Away Home with Anna Paquin, before her X-Men days, will know exactly what to expect. The scene takes place in Italy and other than watching the flock of Canadian geese from a variety of angles as they swoop down and up, all over the place, it also lets the user watch the Italian landscapes surrounding him or her.

The tour starts apparently in the morning, then switches progressively through different times of day including the sunset and is only a bit above five minutes in duration. Since the landscapes are always seen from quite afar, the low resolution of the video doesn't feel like as big of an issue as it felt with Rickshaw in Kyoto. More so perhaps than all the other videos on offer, Birds in Flight feels like the kind of thing that most people are the least likely to experience ever in their life, so for that reason, Nintendo should be commended for using their unusual setup of a home console to make that experience possible directly in your living room.

Image for Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views

Having said that however, one may wonder if this really is the kind of experience that we expect to have to pay for, when beyond the initial experience, most people will probably never go back to plat again. Panorama View works incredibly well for showing what the Wii U is capable of, as a tech demo, but should it be a product made commercially available to everyone, for a cost? It feels mostly like a cheap attempt at filling the void of game software in the Wii U library at the moment. Don't get us wrong, it feels quite good as an experience, but it makes you wonder what Nintendo are thinking at the moment, for offering what ultimately doesn't feel like much of an interactive kind of content, which is the reason why you would normally buy a video game console.

At one point, while watching the video, it seemed like some sort of shiny leaf, with a "bling-bling" sound effect swooped past the camera. It went by too fast to be clearly identified, but it didn't seem like a part of the video itself, but more like a something integrated into it in real time, by the console. An Easter egg perhaps? Or some sort of thing that you have to look for, hidden in each video? It's hard to tell and it's intriguing to say the least so it's hard to make a firm judgement on the possibility of more interactive elements thrown into the mix.
Ultimately, it felt like a pleasant experience on the whole, but would have been even more breath-taking at a higher resolution and better encoding-quality.
Tour score: 8/10

Rickshaw Around Kyoto, Rudy Lavaux

In this special video, you are taken on a rickshaw ride around Kyoto, with the guide pulling the contraption apparently explaining tons of things to you about what you and your "companion" for the ride are able to look at. That's right, for the whole ride, you can choose to either look at your surroundings, or keep staring at a charming lady sitting next to you: A woman dressed like a geisha for the first half of the ride, and then a cute woman in a Yukata for the rest of the ride. Now that's what you call attracting the tourists! Setting those male hormones aside, the ride takes you through what seems like old Kyoto. Having never been there, it's hard to tell.

And that's a shame about the video too. You should have been able to turn on subtitles so that you could at least understand what you're seeing, subtitles that would have been rendered separately from the video itself, on top of it, so that wherever you look, the subtitles are still there for you to read.

Image for Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views

Now, even more than with, say, the Birds in Flight experience, the video quality feels quite poor overall. It's clearly not HD, 480p at best maybe. But then the application lets you zoom in on what you are watching, and then it transforms into a blurry mess. The Wii U is rendering the full scope of the video - that means every single angle - at all times. This can be proved by the fact that even when the video is paused, you can still pan the view around, although the menu text is displayed on top. So perhaps the Wii U wouldn't have been able to achieve rendering all of this at an even greater resolution. Or maybe cameras capable of recording video from all angles like this at higher resolutions simply don't exist yet at time of writing.
That's a shame too, because it would have been great to be able to pause the action and still be looking around. It's a strength of the hardware that it lets far away places be explored in that way, and it would be even more of a strength that it lets you pause the visit to look at where you're at, from every angle, unlike in a real ride in a rickshaw around Kyoto.
The bottom line is that this felt very exotic and unlike anything seen previously for someone who never visited Japan, so in that sense, the video definitely succeeds at what was intended. It lasts a bit over seven minutes in all, which is quite long considering all that it allows you to see.
Tour score: 8/10


It's time to embrace the vivid lights, colourful costume and addictive rhythmic beats of Carnival. Step into the world-famous procession in Rio de Janerio, Brazil as a multitude of floats, dancers and performers litter the streets with over two million people per day. It's packed to the brim with various different locals, specialist schools, groups and competitions between groups to tackle the themes.

Visiting the annual affair can be incredibly tricky. There's always the opportunity to catch highlights on the TV and actually braving the journey down to try and barge through the crowds to catch a glimpse of the action. The easier thing to do will be trying out the Carnival experience on Wii U Panorama View. You're placed literally in the middle of the road, not as a side-line spectator but actually as if you were one of the performers, walking and dancing with the group. The view itself adds that layer of immersion that's different from simple TV coverage. Players are able to move the Wii U GamePad around to catch close-ups of the dancers strutting their intricately crafted, exotic costumes, percussionists swinging and holding the beat in the palms, plus towering floats running alongside.

Standing up, controller in hand is the perfect way of getting a feel for the experience, where sitting on a sofa just simply won't do. It offers a wholesome taster of just what Carnival has to offer, particularly the dancing segments. However it is all over far too quickly to be truly absorbed, clocking in at just over seven minutes long. The cuts are too frantic towards the end of the footage too, often switching over to a new scene and set of performers without giving the player enough time to truly absorb what's going on at certain points. The bigger floats are also cropped and difficult to view at the camera's angle, which is a shame.

Image for Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views

The video quality itself isn't too bad during this sequence, particularly when zoomed out and if you're focusing on the GamePad footage rather than that on the TV, but there are signs of the lower resolution creeping in when zooming into certain detail ,even just fractionally. As mentioned in the other experiences, the ability to pause and look around would have been a great bonus, but instead the pause screen itself obscures the footage. Likewise, the ability to pause and tap on certain performers or segments of the parade itself for more information or commentary would have added that extra layer of interactivity for a fairly short sequence.

A high definition version really would have made the difference if available to the user as an additional, bigger download as the lower resolution footage does saturate the colour and crispness of the costumes and performers somewhat. For what it's worth though, Carnival does what it promises on the tin by letting viewers almost step into the parade itself and become one with the performer; it just needed an extra bit of fine tuning to bring it all together.  

Tour score: 7/10

Image for Hands-on Playthrough with the Four Nintendo Wii U Panorama Views

Explore the world in Wii U Panorama View out now to demo and download on the Nintendo Wii U eShop.
Box art for Wii U Panorama View








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Korey (guest) 08.05.2013#1

ya...looks like it was just as much of a waste of money as I expected. 

Looks like something you would download use for 5 minutes and forget about it. Useless.

Darkflame (guest) 09.05.2013#3

For those wanting to try something very similar on PC right now:
Only its flying over volcanoes, so a hundred times cooler.

Andy3004 (guest) 10.05.2013#4

I actually downloaded the Kyoto one because I have been to that beautiful city quite a few times and wanted to check what locations they decided to take you to.
Currently it's just a nice tech-demo, but the concept is promising: If it can done with video, it can also be done with games. Combined with some visor/glasses device (like the upcoming oculus rift) instead of the game-pad, it would make up for interesting gameplay experience. methinks.

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