Escorted by a Nintendo representative, I walked upstairs to the Wii U area overlooking Nintendo’s entire booth. A row of hands-on demos were before me and what Nintendo called The Zelda HD Experience was one of my first stops.
Half of the demo was watching Link step into an altar and battle a giant spider in HD. Yes, it’s pretty with rippling water and a volumetric light pouring into the stone room. While I couldn’t move Link, there were controls… sort of. One button on the top right changed the camera angle, emphasizing that the Zelda HD demo was rendered in real time. Another button switched the fight from day to night. A button on the left side of the touch screen turned off the sun, which made the torches the only light source. The final button brought Zelda HD to the controller. The transition was instantaneous and Zelda HD looked about as sharp as it did on the TV. Nintendo would not specify the resolution of Zelda HD, however.
As seen in the screenshot above, the Wii U controller usually holds status information and perhaps a touchscreen inventory. However, you can move the hearts, HUD, and map to the TV. The same button that brings Zelda HD to the controller transfers the status display to the TV. In this mode, Zelda HD is windowed with hearts on top and a map on the right. On the bottom of the screen, you can see the number of keys and rupee’s Link holds in his Doreamon’s pouch-like pockets.
Aside from showing a shiny version of Zelda, the unplayable demo was an example how an adventure game or RPG can utilize a second screen. For players that want a cinematic view, the TV can have uncluttered action with all of the status information on the bottom. Imagine, perhaps, a Final Fantasy game with ATB bars and menus on the controller. And for those gamers that want everything on the TV, developers can design games to switch between the two views.