Nintendo will probably integrate amiibo into some part of Zelda U’s gameplay, but we shouldn’t worry. While I count myself among those opposed to amiibo integration in Zelda U, a look at Zelda‘s history has convinced me we have nothing to fear.
Amiibo support in Zelda U won’t be a microtransaction scheme straight out of the Candy Crush Saga playbook, nor will we see major features like riding Epona or accessing dungeons restricted without player purchase of specific amiibo figures. In fact, amiibo integration in Zelda U will probably be much more familiar than many of us realize.
So, let’s all remain calm and take a look at how inevitable amiibo integration in Zelda U appears to be. But, let’s also look at how extra hardware purchases have not only been a major part of the Zelda franchise for most of its history, but have rarely tarnished Zelda games.
Nintendo Loves amiibo
First, consider how widespread amiibo integration has been with recent first-party Nintendo titles. Mario Party 10, Splatoon, and the latest Super Smash Bros. games are just a few of the recent Nintendo titles that support amiibo integration natively, while older Nintendo titles like Mario Kart 8 have been patched to support amiibo integration.
Furthermore, the recently released New Nintendo 3DS brought native NFC support to Nintendo’s mobile platform. Now, amiibo integration is as accessible for players on the go as it is for Wii U owners. In fact, native amiibo support is now a standard feature across all of Nintendo’s gaming platforms.
My interpretation of these facts is that Nintendo isn’t just flirting with the toys-to-life market. Nintendo has gotten down on one knee and tied the knot with this incredibly prosperous new segment of the gaming industry. Nintendo wants a slice of the toys-to-life pie, and it wants to give consumers as many reasons as possible to pick up these collectable figures.
Nintendo has made amiibo attractive and accessible for consumers with a wide variety of figures to choose from and an increasing library of games that support them. While the idea of purchasing extra hardware like amiibo for added functionality in games may sound sketchy to some gamers, it’s a natural fit for the Zelda franchise, which has frequently suggested or required the purchase of extra hardware for the last 16 years.
Zelda’s History with Extra Hardware
Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask suggested a Rumble Pak; Majora’s Mask required the Expansion Pak; a Game Boy link cable was suggested for Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons; The Wind Waker suggested a cable to connect and a Game Boy Advance to the GameCube; Twilight Princess was a GameCube game that had its release date pushed back by a month to suggest players buy the Wii port and a new Wii; and Skyward Sword required a Wii Motion Plus attachment.
That’s seven of the past 11 traditional Zelda games that have suggested or required extra hardware for a more fulfilling gameplay experience. And let’s not completely forget about how heavily Nintendo marketed the New Nintendo 3DS alongside promotions for Majora’s Mask 3D, or disregard spinoff Zelda titles such as Four Swords Adventures, Link’s Crossbow Training and Hyrule Warriors. In fact, Hyrule Warriors was sold with native support for amiibo.
Even though Link’s Crossbow Training was bundled with a Wii Zapper and the DLC in Hyrule Warriors was software instead of hardware, these games still support the trend of Nintendo using the Zelda franchise to sell consumers extra products besides the base game. And this has especially been the case for Zelda games released on home consoles.
So, seven of the last 11 traditional Zelda releases have either suggested or required players to purchase extra hardware. And home console releases make up the majority of those seven traditional Zelda games.
Remain Skeptical. Remain Optimistic. Remain Unrustled.
Nobody but Nintendo knows the extent of Zelda U’s amiibo integration, if it has any at all. But if amiibo support is announced for Zelda U, don’t let it rustle your jimmies; it won’t be as unusual and frightening as you may fear.