One of the surprise showings of E3 2017 was Metroid: Samus Returns, a 3DS remake of the second game in the series that has everybody buzzing. The game is getting its own amiibo, too, and it'll actually be used to unlock an entire game mode within the title.
I'll get all of the details out of the way before I pull out the ole soapbox and get to griping. Over on the Nintendo 3DS Facebook page, The Big N has announced that the adorable Amiibo for Metroid: Samus Returns will have a couple of uses in the game. For starters, it will unlock Metroid Marker, an in-game tool that will help the player locate those pesky critters. That's sure to be handy, but players probably won't feel especially cheated without it. Heck, purists would probably rather hunt down Metroids the old fashioned way to begin with.
The part that seems to be ruffling some feathers is that, according to Nintendo, the Metroid amiibo is the only way to unlock Fusion Mode within the upcoming 3DS game, which "offers increased difficulty and features Samus in her Fusion suit." While we'd be fine missing out on a cosmetic item -- no matter how cool Metroid Fusion was -- locking a difficulty mode behind a $12 piece of plastic is pretty much a terrible idea.
What Nintendo is basically doing here is charging players $12 for a Samus skin and an extra difficulty mode. Sure, you get a neat little plastic figure as well, but we're having trouble overlooking the fact that this will be the only way to get a mode that most players will want and, let's face it, every other game has offered standard for the past three decades.
The problem here seems to be that Nintendo still has no idea what to do with amiibos. They wanted to get into the toys-to-game market, they just had zero plans for how that whole "to-game" part of the equation should actually work. So, instead, we got expensive little figurines that usually serve as save file holders or unlock cosmetic items in various games.
Even at that level, the amiibo model is kind of frustrating. In Splatoon 2, for instance, there are 11 amiibo that unlock exclusive gear in the game. So if you want access to those items, you need to fork over more than $100 to get the amiibos. They're cosmetic, sure, but it's a pretty greedy way to get folks to deck out their in-game characters with extra gear.
For Samus Returns, though, we're talking about actual, on-cartridge content being locked behind an amiibo you have to buy separately. The reaction online has been almost exclusively negative, but we doubt Nintendo will pay any of it much attention. In the end, plenty of folks will still buy the Metroid amiibo primarily to unlock hard mode, so why wouldn't they just keep on taking advantage of folks?