Opinion – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Is Amiibo Functionality Done Right
Ever since the introduction of Amiibo figures in 2014, Nintendo has attempted to find the best way to implement them into gameplay. To this point, we've seen developers use them to add new costumes for Mii characters in Mario Kart 8, unlock new Nintendo-themed puzzles in Picross 3D, deliver new challenges in Splatoon, and more. However, each of these implementations feels either not interesting enough to warrant picking up new figures, or so important that it shouldn't be locked behind the paywall of the figures. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has found the sweet spot when it comes to Amiibo functionality.
In Breath of the Wild, you can use your various figures once per day to get new materials to cook with. While that's fine, the real allure is if you happen to own one of the many previously released figures from the Zelda series. Those figures not only funnel ingredients and materials, but they also provide you with one special item each time you scan it. These items range from highly sought after bomb arrows and ancient components to exclusive weapons and outfits that call back to the game the figure is from, such as Link's cap and tunic from The Wind Waker or even Epona, the horse from previous Zelda games.
With Breath of the Wild being so loot-based, it might sound like this would break the game. In fact, when Nintendo first announced the Amiibo functionality, I made the decision I would avoid using them until I beat the game because I feared it would be cheating.
However, once my fellow editors began telling me about the exclusive loot, I grabbed my enormous collection of Zelda figures and made a habit of scanning every day (I still avoided obtaining the wolf companion from the Wolf Link Amiibo - I felt that would hit too close to cheating since it helps you in combat).
I was pleased to find that while this made activities like hunting less important, since raw meat was literally raining from the sky, it didn't break the game. It teeters on the edge of feeling cheap, but it never quite crosses that threshold. The meat, mushrooms, and other materials were convenient to collect in this manner, but what kept me coming back for my daily Amiibo scans were the exclusive items.
Even now as I've defeated Ganon twice and collected all of Link's memories, I still desire to turn my Switch on just to scan Amiibos. While I've already unlocked multiple clothing items from games like Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and even the original Legend of Zelda, I feel compelled to keep scanning to seen what fun, nostalgic drop I encounter next. It's exhilarating to find references to past games, even if I don't plan on using them. It touches on my history with the Zelda franchise (which many share) and my propensity to collect things that I love.
As an added bonus, the items aren't overpowered, making for balanced additions that provide collectible fan service that makes turning on the system exciting each day worthwhile. Breath of the Wild is such a drastic new direction for the series that these nods to past favorites are nice bonuses for players who have loved the series for years.