Review of Wii Street U, now supporting the Wii Balance Board!
A few days I mentioned the announcement from Nintendo that Wii Street U would be updated to use the Wii Balance Board to let you walk around the streets of anywhere in the world that has been captured on Google Maps Street View using the Wii Balance Board. What I didn’t realize as I was writing this was that the update has already happened!
The updated Wii Street U from the Nintendo eShop is available for download onto your Wii U for $4.99. To find it, just go to the eShop and type “Wii Street” in the upper right-hand corner of your GamePad. You’ll see an option called “Wii Steeet U™ powered by Google™”.
Here’s how to get started:
- Go to Nintendo eShop and download Wii Street U to your Wii U
- Dust off that old Balance Board, and put fresh AA batteries in
- Load up Wii Street U. After the intro screen, you’ll be asked if you want to use the GamePad or to use the Balance Board. Press “X” to use the Balance Board.
- If you’ve never synced your Balance Board with your Wii U, you’ll need to do that now. Just power the Balance Board on, press the small red button in the battery compartment of the Balance Board, press the small red button in the front of the Wii U, and wait until the blue power light on the Balance Board stops flashing and becomes solid
- You’ll be asked to set up the Balance Board. Thankfully, they’ve made the process a lot faster than it’s been in the past. Just press “A”, step on the board when it tells you to, and you’re done.
You’ll then be dropped on the streets of Paris your first time using this software. You can literally “walk” on the Balance Board to start walking on the street. Happily, the software isn’t as picky as it’s been in the past at warning you not to “run” on the Balance Board…I was able to walk and even do some light jogging without getting the annoying “don’t run on the Balance Board” message.
Having said that, the Balance Board is still fragile equipment, so I’d still exercise some caution. If you want to walk quickly or even do some light jogging, I’d strong suggest you don’t wear shoes of any kind and never jump on the Board–instead, lightly place the ball of your foot on the surface and gently place pressure with your heel. You’ll still get some great exercise, and you’ll ensure the Balance Board stays functional for a long, long time.
Granted, the experience is a bit herky-jerky, as the images are pulled from Google Maps Street View, and because Google didn’t take continuous video of the streets it won’t feel exactly like virtual reality. But if you’d said to someone even five years ago that you could tour streets in Europe, North America, and Asia by walking in your living room, they’d have had you committed.
What’s even cooler is that on the Wii U Gamepad, you can view a street map of the area you’re “visiting”. You can also use the left joystick to look around, up, down, left or right.
When you reach an intersection, you can lean left or right to change your direction. I couldn’t get this to work all the time, but happily, you can also turn using the cross directional keys on the Gamepad as well.
The fun starts when you access the menu by pressing “Y”
The first menu option (Recommended) provides a number of “recommended” areas to try:
- Waikiki, Hawaii, United States
- Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
- Monte Carlo, Monaco
- The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- The White House, Washington DC, United States
- Livingston Island, Antarctica
- Kennedy Space Center, Florida, United States
- Daigo-ji, Kyoto, Japan
- Florence, Italy
- Yosemite National Park, California, United States
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- New Delhi, India
- Jigokudani Hot Springs, Japan
- Stonehenge, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
- Sydney, Australia
- Manza Beach, Okinawa, Japan
- Paris, France
- Times Square, New York, United States
- Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Kyoto, Japan
- Barcelona, Spain
- The South Pole, Antarctica
- Japan Mint, Osaka, Japan
- Los Angeles, California, United States
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Akiyoshido, Yamaguchi, Japan
There are a total of 96 suggested places to go visit.
Furthermore, because it’s powered by Google Maps, you can visit ANYWHERE in the world that Google’s cameras have been to. Want to see your old elementary school? How about the house you lived in as a kid? It’s all there. Just click “Search for a Place” and type in an address. You can also add any place to your Favorites.
“Street View Guide” lets you turn on and off the blue “guide” lines that let you know if a street is covered by Google Maps. You can also select street map view or satellite view for map type. Finally, you can even view the current weather on any street you’re walking on.
I was wondering if there’d be a day when Google Street View would be hooked up to a video game to allow you to virtually walk the streets of the world, and happily, that day has come. While this has been released as a free app without much fanfare, for me it’s one of the most promising examples of video game fitness software out there. I admit, I’m the kind of person who can’t watch TV or read a book while exercising, as my brain just can’t focus on both things. But with the new Wii Street U, you can literally spend hours exploring the streets of the world and getting great exercise all in the comfort of your home.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again–with the trimvurate of Wii Street U supporting the Balance Board, Wii Fit U being released as a free trial and the ability to upgrade to the full version with the purchase of a $19 Fit Meter, and the announcement of Wii Sports Club which will finally modernize Wii Sports for the MotionPlus controller (boxing and tennis are still among the best video game exercises after all these years), it’s clear that Nintendo is still serious about fitness gaming.
I rarely “review” free games, but this one gets a 4 out of 5 for sheer enjoyment and exercise value, and a 10 out of 5 for potential 🙂