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Nintendo’s Zelda amiibo items are fun and helpful and will cost me a small fortune

Nintendo’s Zelda amiibo items are fun and helpful and will cost me a small fortune


Genius and maddening at the same time

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Photo: Nintendo

For hours now, I’ve been staring at Zelda amiibo on eBay, and I’m starting to think I have a problem. Within The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo has hidden scores of secret in-game weapons and outfits for players to collect, but only if they have the requisite RFID-equipped figurine, of which there are 14. By scanning each one of these figurines on your Switch controller a maximum of once per day, you have a random chance of obtaining one of upward five exclusive items per amiibo.

Amiibo will bankrupt you

That fact alone would deal some serious damage to any well-meaning Zelda fan’s wallet and personal time, but factor in this additional complexity: each of these 14 amiibo is sold out virtually everywhere. Numerous guides online illustrate exactly which figurines grant which collectibles, and these lists serve as reminders that unless you’re willing to shell out dozens — if not hundreds — of dollars for just a few figurines, you’re not getting your hands on many of these items.

Nintendo has made clear some items can’t be found through standard means in the game itself. And so it’s amiibo or bust. That sucks too, considering the wealth of cool secrets out there ranging from the Biggoron Sword and a bow from Zelda with unlimited arrows to the wolf version of yourself from Twilight Princess:

Photo by Andrew Webster / The Verge

On one hand, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Since Nintendo introduced amiibo figurines in the fall of 2014, demand has far outstripped supply. Fans wait in line for hours at local GameStop locations just for the chance to be one of a few people to buy the severely restricted supply of certain figurines made available to each retail outlet. It’s perhaps even harder to get your hands on one online, when Amazon sales are exhausted in minutes and eBay resellers jack up prices by three or four times the MSRP amount.

On the other hand, I can’t stop thinking about bringing Epona, Link’s iconic horse from N64 classic Ocarina of Time, into the modern BoTW world. So much so that I’m willing to spend my money and time getting the right amiibo and scanning it over and over again. And therein lies both Nintendo’s genius and its most maddening quality: milking nostalgia for the past and combining that with rare collectible products of the present.

Photo: Nintendo

Fans who have spent the last three years painstakingly collecting Zelda amiibo are now being rewarded for their dedication. Meanwhile, those who’ve found the products in the past to be silly toys with inflated value are now kicking themselves for not having picked up at least one of these Zelda-specific ones. (Read: me.)

Yet these BoTW exclusives have become a perfect example of how Nintendo’s somewhat misguided product attempts can, over time, be corrected into worthwhile purchases with real in-game value. For the longest time, scanning an amiibo had little impact beyond fun cosmetic changes in specific games and the ability to share personalization preferences across devices. But these in-game collectibles suggest ammibo may play a more significant role in future Nintendo games, one that more aptly rewards fans who’ve gone to great lengths to expand their collections.

If it all still sounds trivial — these are just toys and virtual goods, after all — it’s important to keep in mind the staying power of Zelda, one of gaming’s oldest and most beloved franchises. For a certain type of fan, and they are out there in the thousands, collecting these in-game items from their childhood is well worth the cost of an amiibo, and even the sticker price of the game itself, multiple times over. My biggest mistake was assuming I wasn’t one of those fans, when it turns out I absolutely am.