Amiibo are the NFC figures that Nintendo has made a fortune on since their release in 2014. However, one writer thinks amiibo are negatively impacting the Big N’s games.
My all-time favorite Zelda game is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Knowing this information, you can probably imagine that when the Twilight Princess HD remake was announced, I was pretty excited to get a chance to revisit my favorite game in the series. My hype level increased even more when I learned that it wouldn’t just boast a visual upgrade, but, rather, it would include brand new content not seen in the original release. And then I learned that content was blocked behind an amiibo paywall, and I lost most of my enthusiasm for the game.
The Wolf Link amiibo is required to unlock Twilight Princess HD‘s new dungeon. This new dungeon was one of the game’s main selling points to me, and knowing that I won’t be able to play it without also picking up a Wolf Link amiibo has made me significantly less interested in the upcoming Wii U remaster. To put it bluntly: I have no interest in owning amiibo, and it is frustrating that I am unable to access certain content in Nintendo games because of it.
Now, I don’t feel like I’m entitled to this content. If Nintendo were to release the new dungeon in Twilight Princess HD using a more traditional paid DLC model, I would be willing to spend the extra cash in order to experience it. I also wouldn’t mind having to do something extra in-game to unlock the new dungeon, with the option of using the amiibo to unlock it instantly. Alas, the only way to gain access to this new dungeon is by, again, purchasing the Wolf Link amiibo.
My aversion to amiibo is due to a few different reasons. For one, not every amiibo works with every Nintendo game. This makes it confusing as to which figure works with what game. I have reservations about buying a figure that Nintendo may not support that much outside of Super Smash Bros., or may only serve one minuscule purpose in a single game. Perhaps if Nintendo released an amiibo game like Skylanders, where I would know that I would get a lot of playtime out of the figures, then I would be more open to them.
Secondly, some amiibo are notoriously difficult to find. Nintendo either greatly underestimated the demand for the amiibo, or the company has purposefully produced a low number of them to create a sense of artificial value. Whatever the case may be, the fact is that there is the possibility that an amiibo that unlocks content in a game could wind up being extremely rare, and only available from scalpers at absurd prices. It makes me uncomfortable to think that, just to enjoy a dungeon in Zelda, there is a chance that I would have to pay twice as much as the retail price for the required figure – possibly even more.
Finally, the way that amiibo figures save data is not preferrable. For example, a player can spend time training an amiibo in Super Smash Bros., only to have that data erased if they wish to use that same amiibo in Mario Party 10. To Nintendo’s credit, it seems that there are games that don’t require amiibo to actually save data, but for the games that do, it can become an irritating inconvenience.
Also to Nintendo’s credit, it seems that most of the content that is unlocked with amiibo is generally not very significant. However, there are some instances where it seems incredibly noteworthy and players miss out on genuinely interesting features if they don’t own any amiibo figures. The new dungeon in Twilight Princess HD is an example of this. However, there is one game that does amiibo right.
That game is Super Mario Maker. When it was first revealed that Super Mario Maker would have Nintendo character costumes that weren’t tangentially related to the Super Mario Bros. series, I was excited and disappointed at the same time. I was excited to be able to play as 8-bit Link in Super Mario levels, but I was disappointed when I realized that Nintendo would likely block these costumes behind amiibo paywalls. Luckily, players are able to unlock these costumes in-game, though the amiibo figures make it a much quicker process.
All things considered, I don’t blame Nintendo for making amiibo a bigger focus of their games. There is clearly a sizable audience for the figures, as amiibo have sold over 20 million units since they were first introduced back in 2014. However, I wish that Nintendo would offer alternatives to its toys-to-life initiative, like allowing players to unlock amiibo-blocked content through other in-game means – a la Super Mario Maker or even purchasing the content separately as DLC. In the meantime, I fear I will be finding myself less enthusiastic about each upcoming Nintendo game after I discover the content I will be missing out on for not jumping on the amiibo bandwagon.
Do you collect amiibo? Do you think that content in games should be blocked behind an amiibo paywall? Which Nintendo characters would you like to see receive their own amiibo figures down the road? Sound off in the comments below and leave us your thoughts on Nintendo’s amiibo craze.