Amiibo: Expectations, Disappointments & Ideas

bannerNintendo first introduced the Amiibo’s at E3 in June 2014, and just recently released them (in the United States) in November 2014 alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.  Until shortly before the release, it wasn’t exactly clear what the purpose of the Amiibos were, and how they would interact with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and other games. Even after their release, I still don’t have a full understanding of their functionality and their purpose.  Nintendo has yet to explain how they’re going to work with already released software like Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker and upcoming releases like Kirby and The Rainbow Curse, Mario Party 10 and Yoshi’s Wooly WorldKirby and The Rainbow Curse is due out February 13, 2015, almost 3 months from the release of the first wave of Amiibos, which includes a Kirby Amiibo.  It seems odd that Nintendo would sell the Kirby Amiibo shortly before the release of a Kirby game that supports Amiibos, without explaining how they’ll be used.  I’m actually somewhat skeptical if Nintendo knows what they plan they do to them.  If Nintendo handles Amiibo correctly, they could actually make up for any lackluster sales of hardware and software related to the Wii U, so it is important for them to get this correct.

I don’t have any problems with the physical quality of the Amiibo’s but without better functionality, I think the price of them is currently too high.  I know that the quality of the Amiibo protoypes showcased at E3 are better than the actual manufactured releases, but they do feel very solid (Marth’s sword is a little flimsy).  The figures now include props/stands such as Link’s yellow pole and WiI Fit Trainer’s clear boot, these make the figures a little less appealing but it doesn’t ruin them.  I am curious to know why they chose yellow for Link’s stand instead of a clear color.  Nintendo franchises are my favorites and I already have some non-Amiibo Nintendo figures, so I am someone that want’s to like Amiibos.  But I don’t want to spend $13 on all 41+ characters from Smash Bros just because I’m a collector and fan of Nintendo, I want to get more out of their functionality.

smashSo far, I’m not interested in the way Amiibos are used in Smash Bros, or I just don’t “get it”. From what I’ve experienced with my Amiibo figures is that one figure, gives me access to a customized version of that character in-game.  I can then fight against, or alongside the Amiibo in Smash Mode.  The Amiibo’s AI will level up and it’s actions mimic the player in certain ways, such as how it prioritizes grabbing items in a match.  I can take my Amiibo to a friend’s house and use it to fight against my friend, and/or his Amiibo.  I however can’t play as the Amiibo itself, I never get to experience the customized move sets, and I can’t send my Amiibo Online to play against other people and their Amiibo’s.  Out of all of my friends and family, only one of them has a Wii U, and we only go over to each other’s place a couple of times a year, so I doubt I’ll make much use of that functionality.  If I could however put my Amiibo Online and bet in-game money on it against other people or their Amiibo’s, I’m sure I would get addicted to leveling each Amiibo up.  I already get pulled into the online in-game betting while in spectator mode watching real player.

If the game was balanced in a way that there is some sort of rock-paper-scissor countering of characters, (example: Bowser is weak against Yoshi, Yoshi is weak to Ness, Ness is weak to Mario, etc) matches could be a fight of having the right Amiibo to counter someone on a hotstreak, or for a team match, owning a variety of Amiibo’s would become very beneficial.  That’s the kind of depth I expected out of the Amiibo, not what it currently is.  You can’t even use your Amiibo alongside you in All-Star Mode, Classic Mode, Home Run Mode or any of the Co-Op modes, this is a pretty big disappointment too.  Not everyone has roomates or family that they can play Co-Op with, Amiibo’s could’ve been a great solution for this.

hyruleHyrule Warriors has the right idea with the Link Amiibo, but all the other Amiibos have the worst use so far.  Using Link will unlock the Spinner weapon from Twilight Princess in the game and is the only way to obtain this weapon.  All of the other characters can be used once a day and they will give the player some sort of rupee bonus, crafting materials or a weapon below 3 star quality.  Technically these other Amiibo’s functionality is better than nothing, but it’s not far from it.  Using an Amiibo to just get some bonus rupees, or a common below 3 star quality weapon is pretty lame and uninspired, it seems just tacked on.  I hope we don’t see anything like this again from any other game, there is missed opportunity here.  I wish Amiibo’s like Marth would unlock a special sword from Fire Emblem to use in Hyrule Warriors. I’d have liked to have seen more Amiibos have unique features for Hyrule Warriors. The details of Zelda’s Amiibo from the 2nd wave hasn’t been explained yet, hopefully it’s something unique.

mariokart8Mario Kart 8’s Amiibo purpose is the bare minimum way to use it and I hope we don’t see something similar in Kirby & Yoshi.   In Mario Kart 8, certain Amiibos unlock costumes for the Mii Character to wear while racing.  The costumes represent the Amiibo character that unlocked them (example: Samus Amiibo unlocks Samus costume for the Amiibo).  This is cool in it’s own way, but not as special for the characters already in the game (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong).  I would like it much more if these costumes were unlocked for the Mii Character in all games and instances that support Mii Characters.  When Kirby and The Rainbow Curse and Yoshi’s Wooly World are released I expect to see much better use than character costumes for Kirby & Yoshi to wear, I hope I’m not setting myself up for disappointment.

sonicI want to see the Amiibos unlock more DLC-like content, and more than “bonus” items. Last year Sonic Lost World got 2 FREE DLC Levels, Yoshi’s Island Zone & The Legend of Zelda Zone. They were short, they were fun and they were free.  If Nintendo could repeat that effort of small cross-franchise levels, but attach/include them with the Amiibo’s and upcoming games, their purpose would greatly increase. In Captain Toad Treasure Tracker it would be awesome to see a Yoshi Amiibo unlock a level that looks something like a Yoshi egg and has a Yoshi theme.  Maybe Donkey Kong’s Amiibo could unlock Donkey Kong themed Mine cart level.  I don’t expect all Amiibos to work well with every game, sometimes it wouldn’t make sense or would be too forced to use a Wii Fit Trainer Amiibo in the world of something like Hyrule Warriors.  But I’d like to see each Amiibo work across several games with better uses, if it gets too hard to figure out a function, then have it include a Virtual Console game, a theme for the Wii Menu, Stamps for MiiVerse, there are other ways to get use out of an Amiibo that is hard to fit into other game universes.

Nintendo is usually the innovator, but right now Amiibo’s seem like just an attempted copy cat of Skylanders and Disney’s Infinity figures.  Hopefully they tap into their game developers and creativeness and come up with a lot more ideas that make Amiibo stand out as the best of the figures.  A $13 Smash Bros. memory card for 1 character seems ridiculous in a day and age when cloud storage is available on all of the competitor’s platforms with their online service.  The Amiibo’s seem very cool and like they have some high potential for Nintendo, but I’m afraid they’re not going to turn out any different than the e-Reader.

Posted on December 6, 2014, in Featured Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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