Too much, too soon.
One year ago I wrote an article here on NWR about how I got sucked into the crazy, fast paced world of Amiibo. Somehow I managed to talk myself into collecting Amiibo even though I didn’t really feel like it at the start. The promise of some of my favorite Nintendo characters in toy form proved to be far too much for my will, however, and I relented. But while it was fun for a few months, I sit here a year later thinking that the Amiibo bubble has burst for me, and I probably won’t go out of my way to collect them like I used to.
When I first heard about Amiibo, I thought they were cool, but just not for me. A lot of potential, but not something that going to be a deal breaker for me. Then I got one as a Secret Santa gift, and all of a sudden I couldn’t stop thinking how cool it would be to get a Marth figure...then a Ness figure...then I started thinking how cool it would be to have the Splatoon set, and soon enough I had amassed a somewhat large amiibo collection. I don’t even know how it happened...it just did.
But as the months continued on and I added a few other rare figures into my collection, I soon started to realize my new hobby wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. One of the things that’s turned me off lately are the limited quantities of some of the Amiibo out there. I understood early on that it would be an issue since I thought that Nintendo was kind of taken aback by just how popular Amiibo really were here in the United States. But even with that, we still have the problem of store exclusives. I understand the “supply and demand” aspect of the concept, but it turns me off that if, for example, I wanted Rosalina at Target, I would have had to waited in line right as the store opens just to get one. I can understand one or two, in certain stores, but it seems like every other Amiibo is exclusive to some store. It’s kind of a pain, especially when the other problem I mentioned (scarcity) comes into play.
The new thing that’s been happening here that has also annoyed me are the three packs. They have been the norm in North America, starting with the Splatoon three pack in May. That was fine, but now it’s getting silly with other packs that aren’t really necessary. I would love to get KK Slider as he’s one of my favorite Animal Crossing characters. He has a guitar, he’s a cool dog, what more can you ask for? But he’s in a three pack with two nondescript llamas that I have to buy just to get what I really want. That’s pretty unfair and I shouldn’t have to shovel out more money for a toy that I want with two toys that I don’t. This isn’t even the first time it’s happened this year - Smash Bros. had a Retro pack with Duck Hunt, Mr. Game & Watch, and ROB. That wasn’t as bad as the KK Slider pack, but what if I just wanted ROB, or the Duck Hunt duo? My options were limited then as that was the only way you could get any of those three in North America without importing. That’s really lame.
Speaking of importing, that was the way to go for a lot of my amiibo this year. I got tired of waiting for figures like Shulk and Marth to show up on shelves again, so I imported them. My brother wanted other characters. Imported. Metaknight? Yep. The few I actually got in North America were miracles, as Ness I was able to nab just as Gamestop’s servers completely died the minute he was up for preorder. Same thing with Silver Mario and Captain Falcon. It really shouldn't be a battle to the death for these toys...but it sure feels like it at times!
But the most important thing for me is how these toys play into the games that use them , and while there’s been some cool stuff like Smash Bros. training and unlockable CodeName Steam characters, the fall lineup was pretty much a miss and not a hit in terms of both sales and reviews. I reviewed Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and noted the usage of the new Amiibo cards were pretty boring and didn’t really add much to the game. It’s Wii U counterpart, Amiibo Festival, requires Amiibo and on my end, looked like one of the most boring games to come out this year. The NWR review seems to cement my theory. The most annoying thing about all of this is when asked why they released both of these games, the Animal Crossing series director outright said it was just because they wanted Animal Crossing Amiibo. That should never be the sole motivation to create a video game you want to sell to people. Ever.
So the charm and luster of Amiibo has worn off on me. I got out of it just as soon as I got sucked into them. I’m still open to the idea of getting some amiibo - I still want KK Slider, and the idea of Ryu and Cloud amiibo are cool. I’m just putting the brakes on actively collecting them. The way Nintendo of America sells some of these figures is a major turn off on my end, from the limited quantities to the unnecessary three packs. But most importantly of all, the games that rely on them the most are just kind of there at best and dull at the worst. I’d like to chalk this all up as a learning experience for Nintendo, so I’m optimistic for what is in store for Amiibo in 2016. I’m just not as interested as I was this time last year.