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Nintendo locking quality-of-life features behind Amiibos

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Don't let the figure's cool design fool you; its functionality is a lot more deceptive than you think.

Amiibos are plastic figures created by Nintendo which are often compatible with certain games on the Wii U, the Nintendo 3DS, and the Nintendo Switch to add more functionality to them in a certain way.

They were first released in November 2014, and Nintendo has been releasing several more of these figures since then, and while some games use the functionality of Amiibos pretty well, others also misused them in an often predatory way.

Examples

  • In Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, you can scan a Bowser Amiibo (of any kind), the sky turns dark, and it will automatically cause Fury Bowser to attack you.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, scanning a Zelda & Loftwing Amiibo will allow you to fly instantly.
  • In Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, using a Samus Aran Amiibo will unlock an additional Energy Unit up to 500 units of Aeon Energy, a Metroid Amiibo will unlock the hardest difficulty, a Zero Suit Samus Amiibo will unlock another additional Energy Unit that contains 299 units of energy, and the Samus Amiibo will extend the Missile unit up to 50 missiles ir 10 super missiles.
  • In Chibi Robo: Zip Lash, scanning Chibi Robo's amiibo gives you a bonus world that cannot be unlocked via regular gameplay, in addition to giving him more energy.
  • In Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (2018 re-release), scanning a Mario Odyssey amiibo gives you the Mario Odyssey themed levels immediately
  • In all Animal Crossing games since New Leaf (Welcome Amiibo update), scanning an amiibo card would allow the player to move in the villager of their choice depending on the cards they have. Scanning certain amiibo figures in New Leaf like the Villager (Smash for Wii U/3DS) and those from Splatoon 1 or The Legend of Zelda (pre-Switch era), and Sanrio Amiibo cards will allow you to buy exclusive furniture that cannot be unlocked via regular gameplay.
  • In Mario Party Star Rush's tower climbing mode, if you were to lose, you can scan in a figure as the character you are playing as to get one more life, only once per real-world day.
  • In Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, they are required to do anything in this game, even simple actions like rolling the dice. What's worse, if you buy a physical copy of the game brand new (which comes with 2 Amiibo figures and 3 Amiibo cards), you would be required to buy an additional pack of Amiibo cards (pre-New Horizons) to play one of the modes, and if you were to buy just the game disc on its own, or download it off the eShop for free (before March 27 2023, where it's set to be delisted following the Wii U eShop's closure), you'd have to buy 2 packs of Amiibo cards (1 in North America, and even more than that if you get duplicates in the second pack) and 1 Amiibo figure to get the full experience.
  • Despite being free, the entirety of Mini Mario and Friends: Amiibo Challenge is locked behind at least one amiibo figure of any kind in order for you to play the base levels, and you have to buy the amiibo of all the Mario characters featured in this game to complete every level he game has to offer as each of the characters require their own amiibo to access the levels made specifically for them.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, you can use the Wolf Link Amiibo to unlock a new dungeon called the Cave of Shadows.
  • In WarioWare Gold, scanning a Wario amiibo (either Mario or Smash Bros.) will cause Wario to paint a much handsome design and it claims for more than a thousand coins.
  • In Mario Sports Superstars, the Road to Superstars mode is locked behind its own Amiibo cards released specifically for this game, and you have to buy 1 pack of them (or 3 of them individually) to play the mode, which in itself is nothing short of a bad Breakout clone. What's more insulting is that new copies of the game only gave you 1 card selected at random, not even enough for you to play said mode.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, scanning amiibos will give you certain abilities, depending on which one you scanned.
  • In Yoshi's Wooly World, scanning a Yoshi amiibo will let you control 2 Yoshis at once. This can help you get items easily.
  • For more examples, check out the amiibo Wiki.

Why This Practice Sucks

  1. This is just a cheap excuse for Nintendo to make Amiibos, and then make fans buy them, which effectively works, but not in a very good way.
  2. A lot of these features locked behind Amiibos have important effects on the gameplay, and paying for these figures just to unlock gameplay mechanics can be considered pay to win. Similar to that of microtransactions and loot boxes.
  3. These Amiibos are guaranteed to have their prices increase up to $100 overtime, mostly due to scalpers and stock shortages, so in other words: you may have paid $100 to unlock a gameplay mechanic with an Amiibo.
  4. Due to the fact that these features are already included in games and you have to spend money on a toy to get said feature, this type of practice is basically on-disc DLC.
  5. Finding these figures with content locked behind them can be extremely aggrevating, because so many of them are very hard to find, especially when you're living in a rural town or a small area.
  6. What makes this worse is that this kind of practice mostly applies to ports or remakes of older games that were originally released in times where greedy business practices were hardly a thing at all.
  7. This can be pretty annoying if you have an older 3DS model where it doesn't support amiibo. While every 3DS is compatible, you must have the NFC reader for older models, which can get hard to find nowadays if you don't look online.
    • To add to this, if you have an older 3DS model and you want to take it on a car trip for example, it will be almost impossible for the 3DS to even recognize the NFC scanner.
  8. Ironically, any third-party publisher or developer knows how to add Amiibo functionality to their games better than Nintendo, the company that created the toys, does.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. There are tons of other games with Amiibo functionality done right, such as WarioWare Gold, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Yoshi's Woolly World, Mario Kart 8 and its Deluxe version, Mario Party: Star Rush, all Animal Crossing games post-Happy Home Designer (except Amiibo Festival) and even Super Smash Bros. 4 and Ultimate.
  2. You can use cards to unlock Amiibo-locked content without overpaying for a toy, notably the Animal Crossing ones.
  3. If you have a hacked 3DS, you can use Wumiibo to emulate amiibo, therefore negating the need for the amiibo.

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