I Used Flipper Zero to Score Eponas in ‘Tears of the Kingdom’

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flipper zero tears of the kingdom featured gear.jpg
flipper zero tears of the kingdom featured gear.jpg

I finally got my hands on a Flipper Zero. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a noob-friendly version of the kind of penetration testing tools that security experts use to test the safety of systems. It packs a wide range of antennas, including RFID, sub-GHz radios, and NFC, which allows it to scan, analyze, and speak to everyday wireless devices that most of us don’t think much about.

While others have used their Flipper Zeros to test their car or hotel’s security or to make ATMs spit out cash, I had much loftier goals in mind. I got mine a few weeks before Tears of the Kingdom came out. As most Nintendo fans know, the collectible Amiibos figurines aren’t just toys. They can be used to get special rewards in games—like Link’s legendary horse Epona—and you can’t earn those rewards any other way. That’s fun for fans who can buy the figurines, but a bummer for anyone who doesn’t want to chase down collectibles just to get a special horse.

This is where my Flipper Zero comes in. I’ve been using it to score as many legendary horses as I can.

Whitehat Hacking?

Photograph: Flipper Zero

Amiibos have NFC tags in their base—specifically, NTAG215 tags that allow someone to write around 500 bytes of data. While that data is write-only, it’s not really under lock and key. Unlike, say, the NFC chip in your credit card, which has more robust security, an Amiibo can easily be read and copied.

This has led to community-driven projects around exchanging Amiibo codes. Since it’s easy to scan Amiibos, and the data they store is so small, a single 4-GB SD card could store millions of Amiibo codes. That’s a little overkill, considering there are only a couple hundred Amiibo figures in total, plus a few hundred Amiibo card codes. A complete collection of every Amiibo in existence fits into just a couple of megabytes.

Most of them aren’t very relevant to Tears of the Kingdom, but every single one will spawn at least a few generic consumable items, like meal ingredients. Zelda-themed Amiibos, of which there are 26, have better rewards, including weapons, shields, paraglider fabrics, and unique armor sets that are either exclusive to the Amiibos that spawn them or are relatively difficult to earn in game.

Each Amiibo can only be used once per day, but this limit also applies to each unique Amiibo. If you happened to have two of the same Amiibo—say, the Link figurine from Super Smash Bros. that can sometimes spawn Epona—you can use each one every day. Of course, buying multiple figures just to double your chances of spawning a horse costs a lot more than simply waiting a day. Community code collections, however, make it much easier—and cheaper—to try multiple times.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise