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Amiibo: An Old-School Toy for a New World

by Neal Ronaghan - November 19, 2014, 12:40 pm PST
Total comments: 5

After spending time with his very own Amiibo, here's what Neal thinks about them.

After having a trio of my own Amiibo with Super Smash Bros. on Wii U for the past week, I still haven’t really figured out how I feel about the concept. Amiibo mostly add up to just being Smash Bros. Tamagotchi that you feed equipment and customize so that way you can fight with them or against them in matches. You can’t control your Amiibo, which makes it feel more like a straight-up toy than the playable characters that come out of Disney Infinity and Skylanders figures.

But at the same time, while I’m not blown away by the implementation of Amiibo in Smash Bros. (or Mario Kart 8 for that matter), I’m already planning to go to a store Friday morning and buy several more from the first series. Part of that comes from the fact that I actually like the design of these figures. I think they’re awesome, well-designed figures that’ll go great on a desk or shelf. Those new Amiibo I add to my collection on Friday won’t just be showpieces, though. I’ll use them in Smash Bros. and other Amiibo-compatible games.

I feel like my best experience with an Amiibo so far was one I had with a group of friends. When I hosted a multiplayer Smash get-together last weekend, we tweaked my Amiibo and named them. Link became Linkles, a Fierce Deity Link with a lot of attack power. Mario became america, a striped Mario with high defense. Kirby became Black Hole, a black Kirby with crazy speed. These Amiibo were regular combatants as my group of friends fluctuated throughout the day. We yelled when one of them beat us. We cheered when someone beat them. The Amiibo were the most compelling computer players I ever faced in a Smash Bros. game.

It’s just complicated, because the concept isn’t that deep. It’s extremely peripheral to the Smash Bros. experience. However, in their own special way, Amiibo work. They’re toys, but not in any kind of new age way. No, Amiibo are toys in the way I played with action figures as a kid. Their personalities come from what you put into them, whether it’s a silly name or a statistical focus. I’m not totally convinced that Amiibo will be something that will change the Wii U or gaming as we know it, but man, I can’t wait to get more of them and use them in Smash Bros. and beyond.

Talkback

Leo13November 19, 2014

I didn't realize you could customize them to that extent. That's awesome. You just increased the number of Amiibo I will be getting. I was going to get 2 initially (1 of each of my kids) and 1 in Feb (Shulk was the only one I wanted) but now I'll probably grab quite a few for Christmas stockings (including mine)

EnnerNovember 19, 2014

As amiibo comes closer to release, I've heard some back and forth on Nintendo's toys-to-life venture. The complaints and criticisms I've read state that their use is limited, that there isn't a stand-out game that requires them, that their value proposition is worse than Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures, and that Nintendo missed the point on what toys-to-life should be.


All these criticisms I find valid and troubling for amiibo. But I'm still excited to have a Kirby and Pikachu figurine that I can feed equipment to in Smash Bros. and later display on my desk. Nintendo's characters are as important to me as Nintendo's games so I have few qualms with amiibo's prospects at launch.

Leo13November 19, 2014

Quote from: Enner

As amiibo comes closer to release, I've heard some back and forth on Nintendo's toys-to-life venture. The complaints and criticisms I've read state that their use is limited, that there isn't a stand-out game that requires them, that their value proposition is worse than Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures, and that Nintendo missed the point on what toys-to-life should be.


All these criticisms I find valid and troubling for amiibo. But I'm still excited to have a Kirby and Pikachu figurine that I can feed equipment to in Smash Bros. and later display on my desk. Nintendo's characters are as important to me as Nintendo's games so I have few qualms with amiibo's prospects at launch.

They don't bother me at all because so far they're not required for any game so if you don't think the current implementation merits the $13 price tag then don't buy the toys it's that easy

MagicCow64November 19, 2014

Quote from: Leo13

Quote from: Enner

As amiibo comes closer to release, I've heard some back and forth on Nintendo's toys-to-life venture. The complaints and criticisms I've read state that their use is limited, that there isn't a stand-out game that requires them, that their value proposition is worse than Skylanders and Disney Infinity figures, and that Nintendo missed the point on what toys-to-life should be.


All these criticisms I find valid and troubling for amiibo. But I'm still excited to have a Kirby and Pikachu figurine that I can feed equipment to in Smash Bros. and later display on my desk. Nintendo's characters are as important to me as Nintendo's games so I have few qualms with amiibo's prospects at launch.

They don't bother me at all because so far they're not required for any game so if you don't think the current implementation merits the $13 price tag then don't buy the toys it's that easy

Yeah, I really wonder about where we've gotten now that the Skylanders games are great exemplars of collectible toy value. It seems to me like a middling novelty vs. paying to make the game suck less.

Evan_BNovember 21, 2014

I think the notion that Skylanders or Infinity perfected or even do the "toys to life" concept well is utterly absurd. They are costumes that level up, and only allow the player to bring one individual to life at a time. The Amiibo function in Smash Bros is much more fitting- it allows you to create a playground of toys that are built around how you interact with them. This is pretty much exactly how I would want a toys to life game to operate- to make my action figure feel like a learned individual with its own personality, not the extension of the player.

The added functionality of Amiibos in other games sweetens the deal, and makes them more viable for purchase to me than Skylanders, which have one function: to exist in Skylanders. With the Smash representation, we get a variety of characters that can be used in a lot of different ways and in different genres, which is really neat.

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