Wii U Panorama View and Wii U Virtual Console

Okay, so this is about as far removed from indies as I am from a Grammy, but considering how much I’ve “attacked” the Wii U here (reviewed two games for it, awarded both my seal of quality.  God, what bitch I am) I figured I owed this to Nintendo fanboys.  Yes, the Wii U finally isn’t totally embarrassing from a technical standpoint.  By that, I mean load times no longer rival death row in terms of agonizing waits.  Only took five months too!  I would sarcastically say Christmas came early this year, but considering that the Wii U launched too early, I think that joke would be hateful and inappropriate and I won’t go there.  You probably shouldn’t either.

With this new system update (that I began when I started playing Magnetic By Nature, and which was still going by time I finished that game) comes two new features that were anticipated, one of which is shockingly cool and the other of which is unsurprisingly horrid.  The cool one is Wii U Panorama View, which is the closest I’ve seen a gaming console come towards offering an amusement park ride experience at home.  It’s an on-the-rails interactive movie experience thing where the Wii U Gamepad acts a view-master.  There’s no real game here.  Really, the Panorama View is a glorified tech demo, albeit it a pretty cool one.  Myself (and my boyfriend especially) were skeptical about how good it would look.  In fact, when watching the movies, you can barely see the “seams” where the video was patched together.  Video quality is decent.  Not HD by any means, but not grainy or choppy either!  Although sometimes it does have a strange, unnatural “rounded” look that slightly takes you out of the experience, these moments are brief.

Not only should this have launched with the console, but Nintendo probably should have used this as the showcase technology at Wii U kiosks.  It has an undeniable "cool factor" that the console was sorely lacking.

Not only should this have launched with the console, but Nintendo probably should have used this as the showcase technology at Wii U kiosks. It has an undeniable “cool factor” that the console was sorely lacking.

Cool as these can be, they should have been bundled with the hardware, free of charge.  Why?  Because the subject matter of the films is really boring.  The tour of Kyoto takes place on a rickshaw and is a bare-bones gander of the back streets of the city.  Anything interesting to look at is glimpsed only from a distance.  The “Bird’s Eye View” video follows a gyro-copter around some random countryside.  This segment was clearly trying to ape the sound and feel of the Disney’s California Adventure signature ride Soarin’ Over California.   But whereas that video captured the majestic beauty of my home state with such flare and grace that it brings any proud Californian to tears, Bird’s Eye View is just fucking dull as hell.  But hey, it’s never been cooler to look at a parking lot using a game console!

There’s a double-decker bus tour of London that works better than the Kyoto tour on the grounds that you can see more of the sights of the city.  Although, having visited there once before, I can tell you that the experience isn’t as cool as the real thing.  Of course, this method of touring has the benefit of not having to eat food so greasy that any visiting American has to legally opt out of medicare.  Finally, there’s a Carnival parade from Rio de Janeiro that is probably the highlight of the video packages.  If you buy just one of these as a tech demo to show off your Wii U to friends, get this one.  It will still ultimately leave users saying “wait, that’s it?” when it ends, but I found that every person I showed these to, no matter what video, was grinning the entire time.  The older people, especially.  My parents (aged 63 and 44) were dazzled by these videos, and even my crotchety godfather A.J., who said “I don’t want to play no Nintendo game” was awed by the Carnival parade.

The real question is, when is this awesome feature going to be put to better use?  I would love to see a real filmmaker (someone with IMAX experience, or as a long shot, someone like James Cameron) take a crack at making a movie using this.  The obvious money-maker would be a tour of Disneyland.  Imagine being able to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and taking in all the sights of the attraction from the comfort of your own couch.  If they put out a video of that with a cost of, say, $9.99 attached to it, I would think they would have a major hit on their hands.  For now, the four videos they made do a better job of showing off the technology than showing the potential for this as a cool home video medium.  But seriously, Wii owners should buy at least one of these.  Trust me, it will become the go-to “check out what my Wii U can do” software, like bowling was for the original Wii.

And then there’s the debut of the Wii U’s Virtual Console.  A joyless, insulting debut with not a highlight to be found.  Of the eight titles selected to christen this farce, all of them can already be found on the original Wii, and half of them were part of the Game Boy Advance e-Reader lineup.  I can’t believe that even the most drooling shit-for-brains Nintendo fanboy isn’t starting to lose patience with them at this point.  What can anyone get excited about with these eight games?  Balloon Fight was mediocre at best.  Ice Climber can’t even say that.  Donkey Kong Jr. has been ported so many times to so many platforms that I strongly doubt there’s anyone left who actually wants it that doesn’t already own it.  The same could be said about Super Mario World.  This was a launch game for the SNES back in 1991.  I first played it on Game Boy Advance in 2002.  That’s really the theme here, isn’t it?  These eight titles have nearly 100 existing ports between them already out on the market.  There are fewer versions of Star Wars in existence.  When you’re making George Lucas look good, you probably should rethink things.

PETA's favorite game.

PETA’s favorite game.

I know what you’re thinking: “there she goes again on her stupid, hateful, anti-retro, anti-Nintendo tirades.  Snore.”  Of course, anyone paying attention would note that Nintendo is just as responsible for my love of games as any console manufacturer.  Probably more so than Sony or Microsoft.  I even enjoyed the original Wii for what it was.  I also got mileage out of the Virtual Console.  On average, my typical reader is ten years older than me.  That doesn’t sound too big, but in reality, that represents a titanic gap in gaming history.  Someone 33 years of age probably got their start with Atari, Coleco, or the NES.  I’m 23, which means I got my start with the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64.  So, for me, Virtual Console represented a chance to play many iconic games without having to find a dusty old console and cartridges to blow in.

But, for whatever reason, the Wii’s Virtual Console didn’t have a whole lot of games that appealed to me.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some absolutely amazing titles.  In particular, I loved Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.  It was so radically different from the types of Mario RPGs I grew up with, like Paper Mario or the Mario & Luigi titles.  However, Nintendo seemed overall apathetic about the Virtual Console, and they’ve done nothing over the last three years to make me feel otherwise.  Look at the 3DS lineup.  They haven’t ported a new Game Boy game since January.  The only Game Boy Advance games they put out were exclusive to those suckers that bought a 3DS before there was any reason to actually own one.  There has been only one Game Boy Color game released this year, and it’s one of those River King fishing RPGs.  Mostly, Nintendo is just regurgitating the same tired NES releases.  Can’t really blame them.  One quivering Nintendo fan on my Twitter feed proudly boasted about how this became the sixth time he has bought Super Mario World.  I don’t get this mentality at all.  It’s not the same as going to the show to see a movie more than once.  When you own a game, you presumably should own it indefinitely.  Why would you need six versions of the same fucking game?  Another dude also rebought Super Mario World, complaining that he should have gotten it for free.  You’re supposed to throw rotten fruit at people, not money.

Quite frankly, the Game Boy Advance version is better.

Quite frankly, the Game Boy Advance version is better.

I own a Wii U and a pair of 3DSs.  These are not the traits of someone who hates a company.  But Nintendo isn’t exactly inspiring confidence that these purchases will be good long-term investments.  Nintendo’s decision to bail on their E3 presser is a bit startling.  The Wii U is off to a slow start.  The biggest release since launch was Lego City, which after all the hype, turned out to be pretty much the exact same game as every other Lego title, only it took place in a sandbox and didn’t have a license attached to it.  eShop titles have been scarce.  There’s no “new” titles coming in the near future to Virtual Console, with only a vague “it’s coming” in relation to Earthbound.  The next big Nintendo release is Game & Wario, which is getting a decent response.  That hits June 23.  After that, the next Nintendo release (and the only reason to own a Nintendo console is for Nintendo releases) is Pikmin 3, due to hit August 4.  Those two games are the only Nintendo-developed disc releases since launch.  When Pikmin 3 releases, it will have been 246 days since the Wii U launched.  So am I a Nintendo hater?  No.  I’m just disappointed that the best software Nintendo has given us since launch is a video of Carnival.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

3 Responses to Wii U Panorama View and Wii U Virtual Console

  1. tanto says:


  2. tanto says:

    Nintendo’s decision to bail on their E3 presser is a bit startling.

    no it isnt, its brilliant

  3. Pingback: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Review) | Indie Gamer Chick

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