Posted on May 26 2023 by Leslie Jacobson
Ten years ago, Nintendo started selling amiibo. These collectible statuettes of Nintendo characters from a wide variety of games don’t just sit on the shelf. Scanning the amiibo with the NFC reader on the Wii U, 3DS, or Switch will result in extra goodies in the game. Nintendo made the Smash Bros. series of amiibo first and featured Twilight Princess style Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf, along with Toon Link, Young Link, and Sheik.
Since then, Nintendo has made 20 other Zelda-based amiibo. Wolf Link is perhaps the most notable as far as functionality. Scanning it to your Twilight Princess HD game “saved” information about your play progress you could then scan into Breath of the Wild. Doing so would get you Wolf Link as a companion in game. In Tears of the Kingdom, all of the Zelda amiibo drop useful items such as food, crafting material, weapons, and shields. They also drop unique clothing items and paraglider fabric. Scanning either the Smash Bros. Link or the Twilight Princess Link will get you Epona.
I have barely started any of the main quests so far in Tears of the Kingdom. Every day, I have scanned all my amiibo (pictured below) since it’s been out. I’ve gotten loads of high-damage, no-decay weapons and special clothing. One night, I got 2 Eponas (pictured above). That got me thinking, are the amiibo making things too easy for me? It seems unfair that I have two Eponas and don’t have to spend any time taming a horse for use. I have lots of high-damage weapons and I don’t have to spend time hunting because quite a few of the amiibo drop meat. I can easily explore areas with temperature extremes with gifts from the Champions. Is this a version of pay-to-play? “Pay to play” is a derogatory term for games made to profit off players purchasing high-end equipment and items. In the worst examples of these games, players who play the free version have no hope of catching up to those who can buy the DLC.
On the one hand, I paid fair and square for the amiibo, and I should get to use them as intended. The games are certainly winnable without extras. On the other hand, I know I’ve been lucky to get each amiibo near release before the price went up. Not everyone has this advantage. Most of what I want from the amiibo is the costumes and paraglider fabric. Everything else is certainly useful, but I would be fine without it. I know I could also choose to not use the amiibo, or simply not pick up anything such as weapons or items if I wanted to feel the true challenge of the game.
So, what do you think? Are amiibo the same as “pay-to-play”? Does it matter if someone uses amiibo in their playthrough? Do you like using amiibo in your game? Tell us in the comments!
Leslie is a mom, a cosplayer, an educator, and a fervent fan of The Legend of Zelda series. She lives in an area of the United States that reminds her of the Akkala region in the fall and Hebra the other 11 months of the year. She owns The Legend of Zelda t-shirts older than most of her students.