Developer Tantalus hits all the right notes in its Zelda: Twilight Princess HD remaster on Wii U: a full-blooded 1080p production with overhauled textures, boosted shadow quality, and tweaked bloom lighting. As a visual upgrade it’s a satisfying one – and marks Zelda’s 30th anniversary with some style. We’ve drawn comparisons with the Wii version already, but bringing the GameCube version into the fold lets us see the full extent of the upgrade across three generations of Nintendo consoles.
Of course, visual differences between GameCube and Wii are notoriously few, and both 2006 releases match up very closely indeed when planted next to this Wii U remaster. Even as the technological midpoint of the three, Wii’s extras are fairly meagre in hindsight – the same texture assets, effects and geometry as GameCube, all presented at the same 480p standard. Adding a new widescreen mode (and an entirely inverted world layout) distinguished it to a certain extent, but otherwise these two were very much on par. With motion controls added, its status as a Wii launch title overshadowed the other version, and sadly, fewer people enjoyed the game in its original GameCube orientation.
This all changes for the Wii U release. Twilight Princess HD defaults to the non-mirrored layout intended for the game, while a harder Hero mode offers the Wii’s inverted look. It’s all output at a native 1080p too, but the benefits of finally running the game at a 24-bit colour depth can’t be overstated. All captures below are taken via the Wii U’s HDMI port, where the 16-bit colour on GameCube and Wii versions still cause a visible ‘pinstripe’ artifact across the output. This dithering is common to games of this era using heavy alpha effects – and thankfully it’s a thing of the past on Wii U.