E3 2011: The Legend of Zelda Wii U Hands-On Preview

We get an up-close look at the Zelda tech demo for Nintendo's new system.


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

While it was only an interactive tech demo, a version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was on hand to demonstrate some functionality of Nintendo's new Wii U system, its unique tablet controller, and the system's graphical capabilities. The demo begins with Link walking through a narrow passageway into a massive room, and it's at this point that the Nintendo representative draws our attention to the Wii U tablet controller's screen. When we look down, we see a map of the area Link's walking into, complete with a small vision cone indicating where he's looking. There's also a skull icon on the map showing the location of the boss awaiting him--in this case, the spider boss named Armoghoma.

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Upon closer inspection of the tablet screen, we also see three interactive buttons. We touch one on the far left with a sun icon on it, and suddenly the entire scene changes from day to night on the fly. This change in lighting displays some of the technical wizardry of the Wii U. Tapping this button creates some dramatic lighting and shadow effects as the characters and the surrounding environments go from being bathed in light to soaked in flickering shadows produced by flames in nearby torches that spring to life. This change in lighting also highlights some spectacular water effect as Link dodges his way around the massive spider.

The second button we tap changes the camera angles on the fly. We quickly zip from a dramatic, behind-the-shoulder view of Link to a distant perspective that puts the camera in the ceiling. The third interactive button produces perhaps the most noteworthy technical feat of them all, because tapping it swaps the action displayed on the TV with the inventory/map screen originally on the tablet. Aside from the streaming technology taking place, what makes this remarkable is that the screen on the tablet is pretty high quality--obviously, it's not on par with the HD resolution being displayed on the TV in front of us, but it was impressive nonetheless, and we could easily see ourselves using this feature in the manner Nintendo demonstrated during the conference (switching to the tablet when someone else needs the TV).

Quite frankly, if this is a sign of the visual fidelity that the Wii U will be capable of and the kind of detail Nintendo plans on putting into its games, then we're excited. If anything, the Legend of Zelda tech demo shows that the visual capabilities of the system far surpass those of the Wii and are comparable to those of the Xbox 360's. Be sure to check e3.gamespot.com for more info on the Wii U.

For more info on Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, be sure to check out our Nintendo Wii U: Everything You Need To Know feature or watch Nintendo's E3 2011 Press Conference to see the full reveal!

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