One of the more pleasant surprises at this year's E3 was Nintendo revealing a nearly-finished remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, a Game Boy sequel that most people never played. The 3DS update, dubbed Metroid: Samus Returns, takes the structure of the original game and layers on new visuals, mechanics, and who knows what else. It'll also be getting a hard difficulty mode called Fusion Mode, but if you want to access it, it seems you'll need to spend money on an amiibo.
A few days back, Nintendo published high-res images of some very cool amiibo being released alongside Samus Returns next month—here and here—one with Samus in a crouched position, another portraying an escaping metroid. Attached to the images were descriptions of their connection to the game, which unlock actual functionality in Samus Returns. Samus, for example, unlocks a "unique Metroid II art gallery," while the metroid reveals Fusion Mode, which puts Samus into her blue-tinted fusion suit and ramps up the game's difficulty. Even with amiibos, players will have to beat the game once before accessing each feature.
Pretty quickly, the Facebook comments wondered if Nintendo was locking game modes behind amiibo. In the past, things like art galleries and harder game modes were rewards for beating a game. Now, it seemed to require more money.
"So things that used to be shipped and ready to play with the game now require stupid figurines to be able to enjoy em," wrote one commenter. "Nice cash grab."
When I contacted Nintendo, the company pointed me to their Facebook page.
That didn't answer my question, though. I understood what the amiibos could do, the question was whether players could get the same content without one.
Again, the company pointed me to their Facebook page. It refused to provide any direct clarification on this point, which may say it all: it is locked behind amiibos.
This wouldn't be the first time Nintendo and other developers have experimented with amiibos. Splatoon locked challenges for the single-player behind them, Shovel Knight had an entire co-op mode inside an amiibo, and for Breath of the Wild, the only way to have the Twilight Princess wolf with you was using an amiibo.
This doesn't feel right, though. Unlock things early? Fine. Special costumes? Whatever. It'd be nice if Nintendo found a solution that didn't involve requiring another $30 for some plastic toys, on top of the game's $40 price tag.