I don’t understand Amiibo’s.
Let me rephrase that, I more than understand the point of Amiibo’s, as evidenced in “Exhibit A,” my shelf after the September launch of Disney Infinity 2.0:
That’s not including the Hulk figure that I’ve added, the Hiro and Baymax I’ve drooled over as I’ve passed them on store shelves, as well as the upcoming Loki, Ronan, Green Goblin, Falcon and Yondu figures that I will more than likely grab, which is absolute insanity in a certain respect because I haven’t had much desire to go back to the game since finishing the three play sets. So yeah, I get Amiibo’s; They’re a way to capitalize on people who are an absolute sucker for Nintendo things, and if there’s one thing I know, Nintendo fans are bonkers for anything with Mario, Link, Pikachu etc. printed on it. Not that I can throw stones, again, I refer you to “Exhibit A” above.
But outside of the desire to sell people more Nintendo things, something the Big N definitely needs, it’s difficult to explain what purpose Amiibo’s serve. If I was asked to explain Disney Infinity and Activision’s Skylanders in a nutshell to a parent or someone who was unfamiliar with both properties, I feel I could do so with relative ease: I take a figure, place them on a thing, they become playable in a video game and whatever I do with that character is saved on that character for use elsewhere. The same can’t be said for the Amiibo’s even after doing some basic research.
From what I can gather some work with Mario Kart 8, other’s don’t, and those that do add costumes, something that you can buy in almost every other game on the market today for a few dollars via DLC. Hyrule Warriors adds a weapon, I believe from Twilight Princess, but the most important use for them will be in Smash Bros. for Wii U (still can’t believe they went with that title…) where information can be stored for ghost data and used to assist you in-game. This is the only example where the Amiibo’s, to my knowledge, feature the same functionality as the Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures in that data is stored on the figure for later use. Future games will make use of the yet to be released figures, Mario Party 10 and Yoshi’s Woolly World, as examples, yet the description of what the figure usually will do is “determined at a later date.”
Looking at the best 2-3 paragraphs and you’ll things like “research,” “to my knowledge” and “from what I can gather” which are unfortunate words and phrases that have become synonymous with Nintendo. What has made Nintendo a household name and kept them alive in the darkest of times is how simple they’ve always made things. People understand how Mario works before they pick up a controller and their systems exist to do one purpose: To play video games, with the best example being the Wii with its remote-esque controller that had more people playing video games than ever before. This is a stark contrast to competitors Sony and Microsoft who want their respective consoles to do everything and featured controllers designed for the “hardcore” gamer.
Somewhere along the though, Nintendo lost its way when it came to making things simple and understandable. The Wii U was a poorly chosen name for their newest console with people believing its odd tablet controller is a peripheral for the original Wii, the nomenclature for the 3DS has become equally as baffling with the original 3DS, the 2DS and the yet to be released in North America New 3DS and now Amiibo’s can be added to that list.
Which is saddening to say the least in the case of the Amiibo’s because if anyone could be a contender in this new “Toys to Life” genre, it’s Nintendo. Pokemon, Zelda, Mario, Star Fox, Kirby, heck, all of them together in a game that borrows the DNA from the likes of Skylanders and Disney Infinity could be the birth of a new franchise for a company that could really need one, as they’ve become pretty keen on rehashing the same old concepts over and over again. Yet the quick reveal and release of the Amiibo line of figures reeks of a company cashing in on a trend with an undercooked excuse of a concept to back up why you need to own them other than the fact that hey, it’s a Nintendo thing, BUY, BUY, BUY!!!. Perhaps it’s a knee jerk reaction knowing that they once could have been the exclusive home for the Skylanders franchise according to a story on the Polygon website, something I’m sure they’re kicking themselves over now.
Even with the foreknowledge of the impending Skylanders, there didn’t appear to be any light bulbs that went off in the heads of anyone at Nintendo that maybe this is something they should have looked into futher . Skylanders is in its fourth generation now with no signs of slowing down and Disney Infinity is now on its second, with Star Wars more than likely coming in 2015 next to the release of Episode 7. Outside of the yet to be released Amiibo’s, Nintendo tepidly tried the figure/game combo in a game last year, 2013’s Pokemon Rumble U. The figures for the game, six in all, barely had a release in the U.S and up north where I’m located in Canada, the figures didn’t come out here at all. To make that clear, Nintendo skimped on making easy to sell Pokemon figures. POKEMON.
I have no doubt that upon their release and into this holiday season, Nintendo will have no trouble moving Amiibo’s off of shelves (with the exception of a the Wii Fit Trainer, that bad boy’s gonna pollute many a rack) and while this is a great short-term gain for them, I don’t think they’ll see the long-term success of something like Skylanders or Disney Infinity. Nintendo and it’s stable of franchises have one of the most devoted, unwavering fan bases in the world who will grab arm loads of them day one along with their shiny new copy of Smash Bros. for Wii U (really, someone got paid to come up with that name…) but what percentage of people will actually use them on a regular basis compared to displaying is something I’m curious to find out. With the proper software backing it up, I could really see Amiibo being the next big thing for Nintendo, but in its current stage of evolution, they can’t compete with what’s already available to the public.
What, there’s going to be a MegaMan figure in Wave 2?!! Take my money!!!