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E3 2012: Wii U Panorama View hands-on

E3 2012

Wii U Panorama View is not a game. Not even in the non-traditional sense. It is a gimmick, a tech demo that exists only to display how the tablet controller and TV screen can present different experiences. At that the product succeeds. As a piece of technology, it is clever enough to be interesting, at least for a single experience.

There are two parts to it: one of them interactive, one not. The non-interactive part lies on the television screen. It’s all real recorded video. Several scenes are available, including one of hang gliders. The camera is pointed forward, and as the scene progresses geese pass by. There is an old city on the ground, below, but out of view.


The interactive part is in the tablet controller. By pointing the tablet in any direction you will be able to see what is in that direction on its screen. Want to look at the guy hang gliding to your right? Follow those geese along to where they seem to be roaming? There’s a structure below and to the left. What is it? Zoom in! But not that much. Nintendo doesn’t want you to go crazy with this thing.

And once you’re done checking out all the available sights on the linear path, you’re treated to a recap of the three sights that drew your eye the most. And then it is over. A second person can play, by pointing the Wii remote at the TV. You can even look at the same thing. Or not. You don’t have to look at the same thing. And then the recording comes to an end and you can start again.

It’s interesting, not necessarily as a product that exists on a game system, but as a piece of media that exists at all. I suppose the question that emerges from a product like this is whether you would want games to force new technological concepts into themselves just so they can be seen, or rather a more directed experience that focuses on displaying one concept, without worrying about how it fits with gameplay. The problem with the former is that tech gimmicks have a tendency to dilute quality, while the latter forgets the fact that it’s being utilized on a gaming console. And it’s not a game.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

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