The times they are a changin'. It used to be that video games and action figures were separate entities, but not anymore. With the resounding success of NFC harnessed titles such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity the gaming world is scrambling to produce the next big toy/gaming hybrid. Enter Amiibo, a line of figures backed by one of the most renowned gaming developers of all time.
For those not in the know, Amiibo are Nintendo's latest foray into the world of "not exactly necessary, but quite quirky" gaming add-ons. They've gambled in the past with ideas in this same mind set (see eReader), but haven't always hit the mark (see eReader).
Amiibo are another attempt that seems to have fallen short of the original concept. While games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity use physical figures to actually unlock new playable characters and worlds, Amiibo... don't. Nintendo's fan favorite figures don't really add much to the games they're compatible with, and that's a bit of a problem. The biggest draw is that they work with (and will continue to work with) multiple Nintendo titles and the fact that they look pretty neat.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U I awoke my tiny plumber and trained him to fight alongside me. I'll admit that this concept seemed silly, but was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Nicknaming your Amiibo, customizing his/her moves and watching them level up gives you a nice sense of ownership. That's about all though. Nothing to write home about. It's like if virtual pets had a fight club, and you got to be a trainer.
When placed on the NFC pad during Mario Kart 8 my Amiibo unlocked a Mario outfit for my Mii character. Yipee. It's not like there's already Mario, Metal Mario, Baby Mario and Tanooki Mario, right? Oh wait, there is. Couldn't it have unlocked a new outfit for Mario or maybe a new track? Once again it just didn't feel like enough to make me want to go out and buy more characters. Except Captain Falcon. I need that outfit.
So in the end Amiibo are just sort of mediocre as far as game content goes. Their real pull, at least with me, is in their collectability. They may not look like their original prototypes, but most of them are a solid representation of their characters. I say give one a try and if you don't like it, well, it can just sit on your shelf and look pretty.
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