Last week, Nintendo released the first entry into the Legend of Zelda Amiibo series, Wolf Link, alongside the Wii U’s The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Fortunately for Amiibo collectors, the figure came bundled exclusively with the console title and was relatively easy to find, saving hunters from another early morning Friday wait in front of their local video game store. Unfortunately, the Amiibo was a noticeable downgrade in quality and style from the past Super Smash Bros figures, making Wolf Link arguably the first great disappointment of the Amiibo era. Although the character is not an all around failure, it certainly will not be the most well-regarded figure in the Amiibo lineup.
To start on a high note, the box art was actually very high quality. It was pleasantly surprising to see that it was included in its own packing inside of the Twilight Princess box, which was perhaps a gesture for the collectors who like to maintain unopened figures. While it was reasonable to believe that the Amiibo would be in its own plastic casing within the actual outside physical packaging of the game, it was a welcome addition to see that it came attached to a printed backing card like the ones seen on other retail-sale figures. This was different from the packaging of Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, which had the figures placed in simple plastic, although this could have been because there were two characters bundled with the game.
While the box art was a great addition, unfortunately, the overall design of Wolf Link left something to be desired. Its size is perhaps its biggest flaw, and Nintendo planned for the Amiibo to be way too big for its base. To solve this issue, the wolf stands awkwardly on two slabs of white rock, oddly overlapping the boundaries of the circular pedestal that houses its data. Admittedly, Wolf Link is such a large character that it would be hard to make him fit on a standard Amiibo base, but like the other bigger figures in the NFC lineup, the developer could have scaled him down or placed him in a different position. It would have been nice to see him reared up on his hind legs and held by the clear plastic supports commonly seen on Amiibo figures, but it is hard to say how this would work in terms of durability. On the plus side, overall, Midna looks great sitting on his back, looking much as one would expect to see her in Amiibo form.
The intricate particulars have always been the hallmark of Nintendo’s Amiibo lineup, but the developer dropped the ball when nailing down the small details. The colors of the figure are perhaps the biggest issue, with strange tans and bright greens that take away from the overall presentation. Wolf Link’s underbelly appears to be cheaply painted on, and the sides are covered with a faded coloring that looks like a bad stencil job. The character Midna, however, is very nicely detailed and has perfect tiny teal markings that seem impossible to have been printed on. Her hair is another highlight. It starts orange and fades to a clear yellow at the tip, giving off the impression of movement. Her one fault comes with her Fused Shadow mask, which could have used a bit more shading or a darker color in order to look as it does in-game.
The compatibility of the Wolf Link Amiibo is (at the time of this publication) disappointing as well. While it unlocks the Cave of Shadows, a mini-game similar to the Cave of Ordeals in the Gamecube/Wii version of the Twilight Princess, the Wolf Link amiibo really does not do much else. As of now, it does not offer perks for ANY other games, even ones that support almost all figures, namely Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and Amiibo Tap. Surprisingly, the character is (at this time) also incompatible with Hyrule Warriors, although Nintendo has announced that it will support the upcoming Legends title for the 3DS, unlocking upgraded weapons for Midna. That being said, the true mystery lies in its compatibility with the tentatively titled The Legend of Zelda Wii U, where it will supposedly allow for a transfer of data that will aid players in-game. What this data will be and what it will allow for is hard to guess, but, this inclusion does suggest that the Twilight Princess and the Zelda U timelines could be connected in some way. Perhaps Nintendo is not done with the twilight realm, or maybe the new title will allow for another adventure into the Cave of Shadows with Link’s next-gen weaponry. Although this idea is fun to entertain, most likely, the Wolf Link Amiibo will allow players to record their high scores in the cave and then spend those points for in-game items in The Legend of Zelda Wii U.
While the Wolf Link Amiibo was a great idea and an awesome addition to the Twilight Princess HD packaging, the execution left a bit to be desired. The details were not up to par with the rest of the Amiibo lineup and the grey stone base looks awkward in comparison to the other figures, but the inclusion of the box art was a nice touch. That being said, in all honesty, the best part of this figure was its availability. Although it looks a bit cheaper and hastily made than the other Amiibo, there appears to be an unlimited amount of this character, saving collectors the time, energy, and money required to search, wait, or import the character. The Amiibo market was crazy for a while, and now in 2016, things appear to have cooled down. What Nintendo is sacrificing in quality, they are making up for in abundance, begging the question, would it be worth it if they were harder to find but made in a higher quality? The answer is tough, but surely some of the Amiibo charm rested in its exclusivity and subtle details. Surely, a huge amount of Wolf Links success lies in its compatibility with the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U title, and fans can only wait until more details are actually cemented.