The inevitable merger of one of the largest catalogues of pop icon characters, and the newest license to print money in gaming, ‘collectable toys meets video games’, amiibo (no, that’s not spelled wrong, its amiibo without the capital A) is for Nintendo what Skylanders is for Activision and Infinity is to Disney. Already a ‘collector’s happy place, Nintendo have never had trouble moving merchandise featuring their characters, now it can play in the game too. (I think people are going to like this)
Release Date: Holiday 2014
Arriving holiday season this year, on paper it’s a sure thing. Nothing sells quite the way Nintendo product does, but I’ll say this, they didn’t do themselves any favors with that name. I’m sure it was thoroughly tested with focus groups, but it’s… weird, especially the no capital A thing. Whatever the case, it’s certainly unique, which has probably been Nintendo’s strongest point, all these years.
There’s no denying people like collecting stuff, gamers in particular, and the Nintendo brand has a special, I dunno, squishy, warm, ‘heart’ feeling that goes with childhood. Know what else goes with childhood (and childish adulthoods)? Toys. The business model makes a great deal of sense for Nintendo, sure, but also for the audience. Now folks can have a whole Nintendo armada (or a few select chosen) who will then be available to defend ones honor in amiibo enabled games.
Super Smash Bros becomes the obvious example, in fact, it was probably central to the amiibo’s development. So let’s say Samus is your dude(ette), you proudly display her figure until it’s time to fight, at which point amiibo becomes more Pokemon than Infinity. The amiibo figurine becomes a unique ‘fighter’ that you’ve trained and tweaked and let loose, specific to you. Even friends with the same figures will have characters who behave differently, different move sets, stats, etc. Now, this is Smash Bros functionality, which is the only game we really have details on, however, Nintendo say that ‘other games’ will be amiibo friendly. Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Yoshi’s Wooly World are the titles they’re mentioning at this point. As for characters, Announced figures available at launch include, Samus, Pikachu, Mario, Peach, Yoshi, Wii Fit Trainer, Link, Donkey Kong, the dead eyed Animal Crossing Villager, and Kirby (look at him! HEE HEE, he’s so chubby! I want him).
There are other figures to release later, but they haven’t said exactly when. It remains a mystery just how the figures will interact with games other than Smash Bros, but the figurines act as individual champions, leveling up through experience, training, and who knows what other avenues they might have in store? With their angle, Nintendo and amiibo are trying to deliver on that Eighties childhood (or maybe it’s every generations) fantasy of having your favorite toy fight your friends favorite toy in an ultimate showdown. Figures have built in data storage, which, once scanned into any Wii U’s tablet controller, will be zapped into digital battle, whoever’s house you’re at.
While it’s true merits will have to wait until the end of the year to make themselves clear, I can’t really see this going anywhere but up for Nintendo, it just fits too perfectly. Unless they make a total mess of it, of course, but over the long run, my money is always with Nintendo. With a new angle on an idea that isn’t that old (Nintendo is only third to the party right?) our friends from Japan have taken something and made it unique, which is a very Nintendo thing to do.
amiibo hits the shelve Holiday 2014, keep your eye on Bestbuy.ca and the Plug-in blog for the latest Nintendo and amiibo products, news, and availability.