e3 2011

Nintendo Teases New HD Zelda Game

by Phil Kollar on Jun 07, 2011 at 06:50 AM

While much of Nintendo’s hype for its new HD console, the Wii U, has been focused on the innovative controller technology and exciting third-party software, the big N clearly wanted to leave fans with one exciting morsel related to one of its several huge first-party properties. Enter the very first glimpse of Zelda in HD.

The very short demo shown by Nintendo involved no gameplay, although Nintendo promised that it was all real-time. The minimal action can be summed up in a short sentence: Link walks into a temple, looks around a bit, and is attacked by a giant, ferocious spider creature. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in a Zelda game before, but we’ve never seen it looking this beautiful. A button on the touch-screen allowed them to change from daytime to night, showing off some fairly impressive lighting technology.

Nintendo described the demo as an “example of what Zelda might look like on this system if it were designed with the Twilight Princess art style.” The publisher was exceedingly coy about whether or not it’s actually working on such a project, but all signs point to likely.

One important note for whatever future Zelda games end up on the system was how Nintendo was using the controller’s touch screen. The inventory, map, and even health meter all appeared on the touch screen, leaving the television clear of any HUD and full of space to show off the gorgeous visuals. Interestingly, a single button press allowed Nintendo to switch the content of the two screens – the action swapped to the touch pad and the HUD elements went over to the television. It’s unclear if there could be gameplay benefits to switching your viewpoint, but having the option there is cool.

Although this brief demo left lots to the imagination, one thing is clear: Predictions (including my own) that Skyward Sword would make a Twilight Princess-style jump from Wii to the new system were false. But hopefully this demo is a good sign that Nintendo’s first HD console will not go Zelda-less for long.