Nintendo is going all out with an information blowout this morning across three separate Nintendo Directs in Japan, the US and Europe. The Japanese Nintendo Direct already aired, and featured some gameplay from titles like Lego City: Undercover, Pikmin 3 and Dragon Quest X. The real surprise, however, is that Google Maps is coming to the console.
At the tail end of the Japanese Nintendo Direct, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata announced that Google Maps and Street View would be hitting the console in January of next year. Iwata says that Street View will take advantage of the previously announced Panorama View for Wii U. This will allow users to move the GamePad around while Street View moves with them.
You can see Street View on the Wii U action in the video below. Skip to the 38 minute mark if you don’t care to see all the gameplay footage that comes before it.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that Google Maps, or any maps app for that matter, has been on a home console. Sony’s PS Vita has a maps app that’s built using Google Maps, but it’s rare to see such functionality in a games console. It just seems kind of pointless as most people using Google Maps are using it on their phones to get directions.
That being said, the Wii U does seem like a perfect fit for Google Maps. The GamePad introduces an AR element to the equation that no other console can do. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo and Google makes Street View available to game developers for use in AR games in the future.