Amiibo (Wave 1)

Posted by .

amiibo-logoThe current state of Nintendo as a company has the Wii U floundering and the 3DS treading water—but wait. What’s that off in the distance? Its AmiiboAmiibo is the latest way to play with your old friend Mario and a series of his closest buddies. If there is one thing Nintendo excels at, it’s intellectual property (IP) stretching. Amiibo might be just what Dr. Mario ordered for Nintendo’s bottom line and its efforts to remain relevant in the gaming community.

Amiibo is/are a toy/figure that can interact with Nintendo’s two flagship consoles, the Wii U and the New 3DS (with future functionality being added to the original 3DS via adaptors) through Near Field Communication (NFC). In the figure is a chip that will activate something within the game you are playing. Nintendo has placed an initial emphasis on Amiibo interaction with the new Super Smash Bros. For example, tapping an Amiibo character on your Wii U gamepad or New Nintendo 3DS will load a Figure Player (FP) into the game. The FP is controlled by the system itself (which came as a bit of a surprise to me at first) and can be trained to battle on a higher level based on how the player interacts with the character. If you load an Amiibo character into a multiplayer match and play against it, the character will learn from your play style and the play of other players in the game. If you just want to witness your character’s development, you can load the Amiibo into a match with all computer players and see how it measures up. Better yet, once you feel confident in your figure’s training, you can invite a buddy over and have an Amiibo battle royale.

Amiibo_Mario-Peach-YoshiOutside of Super Smash Bros. you will find a bit more limited functionality for Amiibo (at this time). Overall, you can expect additional content to be unlocked or the ability to save certain types of game data to your figure. Nintendo has a nice reference chart of figures and their compatibility with certain games over on their site, check it out for more specific details.

With this first release of Amiibo figures, we get a wide variety of characters, even some fan favorites outside of the Nintendo brand.
  • Mario
  • Peach
  • Yoshi
  • Donkey Kong
  • Link
  • Fox
  • Samus
  • Wii Fit Trainer
  • Villager
  • Pikachu
  • Kirby
  • Marth
Amiibo_Link-DonkeyKong-FoxHow does Amiibo hold up as a toy? As a disclaimer, I personally have a modest toy collection that ranges from vintage collectibles to more modern designer vinyl and art toys. I can’t say I’m a toy snob (I’m trying really hard not to sound like one) but I believe I can tell quality when I see it. The Amiibo figures can hold their own in terms of overall quality for their price point (in the neighborhood of $13 each). There is no “Kung Fu Grip,” special light up laser beams, or “30 points of articulation”—these toys are simply figurines. That being said, there is no reason to think kids can’t engage in imaginative play with these guys, they are kid tested and Gamer Nerd approved. The sculpts and structure of the figures seem fine. There are areas here and there where appendages are a little wobbly and easily bendable—but you can’t expect much out of a 3” toy where scale becomes a factor. The paint on these things are an entirely different story. Good luck finding any sort of consistency in paint quality. Looking at some of the faces of these toys you might think Peach has a lazy eye or Marth is brain-dead. Again, let me reiterate that these toys are $13 and the quality is as expected at that price point.

Amiibo_villager-kirby-pikachuOne of the most frustrating aspects of the Amiibo phenomenon is availability. The Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, and Marth have emerged as very limited figures. There is no official statement about how many of each figure is being produced or if and when any might be rereleased. Nintendo might have unintentionally created a massive secondary market by limiting the availability of some of its figures—don’t be surprised to see any of those three figures up on eBay in the neighborhood of $70 (if not more). Certain aspects of the Amiibo brand has triggered my collector mentality. Not unlike Magic: The Gathering cards or catching all the Pokémon—part of Amiibo’s fun is hunting them down. Frustrating, but fun.

Amiibo_samus-wiifit-marthAmiibo have launched themselves off the backs of the Skylander and Disney Infinity properties with one clear advantage—their characters. I look back at the 8-year-old version of me and wonder what he wouldn’t give to be playing with figures from his favorite games. It’s not like there weren’t Mario or Kirby toys to play with back then, but now they are tied into the games I already love. That synergy can’t go unnoticed. Add to that the competitor in me that wants to train my Pikachu to be the best it can be and take on any would be challenger, and it is a winning combo. Amiibo fits into too many niches of my nerd arsenal; let’s just hope Nintendo can take this momentum into the coming year and regain some of its game industry prominence.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment, or you can connect with: