E3 2011 Hands-On: Wii U’s Zelda “HD Experience”
posted on 06.10.11 at 01:35 AM EST by (@salromano)

While its motion and touchscreen capabilities were on high display at E3, one of the (unfortunately) lesser talked about presentations of the Nintendo Wii U was the “HD Experience,” or what I’ll refer to as the ‘Zelda HD tech demo.’

First shown at Nintendo’s media briefing on Tuesday, the Zelda HD tech demo was thought by many to be pre-rendered, or some form of CGI. Believe it or not, it’s 100 percent real-time.

I had a chance to play around with the “HD Experience” earlier today during my Nintendo showcase. I was handed a Wii U controller which, despite looking clunky at first, felt very comfortable in my hands. While the tech demo was running on the television, the 6.2 inch touchscreen-sporting controller gave me three options: light switch, image swap, and camera angle.

The light switch turned the lights on and off anytime I desired, properly highlighting the vast visual and lighting capabilities of the Wii U. When dark, the torches posted into the ground illuminated the blue marbled floor. When day, the windows let in rays of sunshine, highlighted on the legs of the spider creature we see Link do battle with.

The image swap feature was a simple, yet effective way of demonstrating the practicality of the controller’s built-in touch screen. When your television is your primary gameplay source, the touch screen will act as a map or inventory screen while you play your game on the big screen. If your family, roommate, or whoever is bugging you about using the television, you can swap images and play the game (or in this case, watch the tech demo) on the 6.2 inch touch screen while your interrupter works the cable box.

The mini-map / inventory element pretty much takes it for me. I agree that it’s certainly not necessary, but how cool is it? Very cool.

The camera angle button allowed me to view the scene from a slew of different aspects, then move the camera around with the joystick to take a further peak. This feature, coupled with the light switch, pretty much removed my doubts of this being a pre-rendered affair.

Prepare yourself. This is what The Legend of Zelda would look like on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

See it for yourself below, courtesy of GameTrailers.

  • Red-X

    This tech demo is really pretty!

  • AdamBoy64

    Oh man. I do hope they continue to develop the engine
    and make a fully fledged Zelda game from it.

    Either way, I’m quite looking forward to Skyward Sword.

    • abful

      I hope so too. But it might take them three years.At least we are
      getting Skyward Sword soon.

  • http://www.youtube.com/tezchi TezChi

    Very impressive, and full of potential. just wish I was there to try it!

  • big drew

    I cant wait!! This in my opinion is the best invention Nintendo ever created. All my doubts on this have been extinguished

  • BizarreJelly

    I’m just not feeling it, to me it’s just gimmick after gimmick. I can see how it would be handy for a games like Zelda, managing equipment on the go is great but where do you go from there? What they showed wasn’t particulary exciting, continuing to play while someone watches TV, fantastic, majority of us have more than one television… Although I do see SOME potential, just not enough to get excited about. Just an oversized way of bringing DS to the console world.

    Just now coming into the HD generation is a bit embarassing too, especially when the first titles are all sequels without getting any of the prequels.

    I’m sure i’ll get a good deal of thumbs down but hey, opinions :) I have nothing against this new Wii U, I just don’t particularly get it.

    • http://gematsu.com/members/admin/ Sal Romano

      I can see where you’re coming from — the touch screen can possibly come off as gimmicky, but I urge you to hang in there as we wait for more games to be revealed!

  • Aldridge517

    Honestly, all this does is piss me off. Nintendo’s fallen way behind in the graphics war recently. Why it took them this long to step it up is beyond me. #DoBetter

    • Rock XIII

      You realize that they CHOSE to stay out of HD graphics, right? And when played in an emulator, by the way, the games can look pretty damn attractive. :V
      Also, GRAPHICS DON’T MAKE THE GAME. Innovations is what keeps the videogame industry going. Without the innovations, the market would CRASH like it did in the early 80’s. I would look up KNIGHTWing on Youtube and watch his video on the Wii U; he makes the some of the most logical arguments I’ve ever heard from a gamer.

      • Rock XIII

        Also, yes, the emulator DOES have to be set to 1080 HD if you want the most out of the graphics.

  • go-go-boy

    i won’t lie i will buy wii u just for this game if it wasn’t for zelda i would not even know the meaning of a rpg or an adventure game link is my idol and i am so serious lol