E3 2011 Hands-On: Wii U’s Zelda “HD Experience”

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.

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