Wii Street U arrives: Google Maps Street View wrapped in Nintendo Wii U packaging

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Image credit: Nintendo

Yesterday it was time for another Nintendo Direct; this is the monthly video update that Nintendo does for all its fans. Take note, Sony and Microsoft: you should be doing something similar.

There was no one big bombshell this month, but it's a good time to be a Nintendo 3DS owner and, dare I say it, the show even kindled my hopes for the Wii U. We're almost past the long dead 'no new releases' period and there're a couple interesting Wii U titles headed our way in March and April. I'll embed the video at the bottom of this post.

One of the throw-away mentions during the presentation is that Google Maps has arrived on the Wii U (under the name "Wii Street U, Powered by Google"). You might very reasonably ask "Why on earth do I need Google Maps on my non-portable gaming console?" Well you don't need it. This isn't a utility; it's more of a toy.

[Messing with Google Street Views and Google brings Antarctica to warmth of your home or office]

Wii Street U is free, at least for now, and at that price I'd suggest giving it a try. Basically Wii Street U is a way to put Google Street View to work in order to create virtual tours of various places. It doesn't offer anything you can't accomplish on a computer, it just makes doing it easier and a bit more fun.

First of all, Nintendo has put together a list of 72 locations that make good use of Street View. They have everything from Las Vegas to underwater shots of The Great Barrier Reef. When you start the app up you get dropped into one of these at random, though you can enter any address you like and try your luck.

You can look around at a location by holding up the tablet controller and moving it around. Yeah, it's a gimmick but it's fun. Once that gets old you can just use one of the analog sticks (the left one). The right stick is used to zoom in and out. Once you're ready to move you're stuck with a less fun "pick a route and click a button" style of navigation. Some early video suggested that Nintendo had figured a way to stick street view images together in such a way as to allow you to just walk smoothly down a street, but sadly that isn't the case. Ah well.

I've been pretty harsh when it comes to the Wii U, but I'm going to take a break from that today. Wii Street U is free and it's fun. It's not going to change your life and really you'll probably play around with it for an evening or two and then forget it, but at least it's a reason to turn the Wii U on while we wait for March's releases to arrive. If you have a Wii U, check it out.

As promised, here's the entire Nintendo Direct presentation from yesterday. See anything you like?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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