By Sang Bae
Before Spyro the Dragon bit the dust in video game obscurity, Activision took the character and created Skylanders. Skylanders used near field communication and radio-frequency identification to take figurines and toys and “bring them to life” onto a game, an innovation in video games that became a hit with kids.
Amiibos are Nintendo’s answer to Skylanders. Amiibos make Skylanders look like an over-priced gimmick you entertain an attention addled first grader with for a few seconds. Amiibos just might be what it takes to save the Wii U — for now.
Only a few weeks after its release, Nintendo reported selling over 710,000 amiibos in the United States alone — numbers, the company wrote, “approximately equal to sales of Super Smash Bros.” While worth $12.99 on face value, these small figurines of popular Nintendo icons are known to sell out quickly too, making Little Mac or Wii Fit Trainer worth up to 80 dollars on Ebay or a neighbor video game store. With more amiibos coming out later in the year, collectors and consumers alike have to wait patiently for their favorite character to come out on the market.
A huge part of the amiibo’s success comes from its universal compatibility with Super Smash Brothers Wii U, a fighting game that’s Wii U’s fastest selling item at 500,000 copies in three days. Without going into immense detail, an amiibo allows a player to bring their figurine into the game as a personal training partner. In a system similar to an RPG, you battle with your amiibo to have it gain experience up to level 50, learning from your playing style. You like using bombs? Your amiibo will use bombs more often. You like charging into your opponents? Your amiibo will play at a closer range. With a constantly learning artificial intelligence, your amiibo might be better than you, making it perfect to practice against or compete with other people.
But of course, that alone isn’t a reason why people buy amiibos. Nintendo attempts to utilize amiibos in other games for the Wii U. As of right now, certain amiibos are compatible with Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, and Mario Party 10, unlocking special features such as extra costumes and extra content. As of the 3DS LL’s release in Japan, One Piece: Super Grand Battle! X currently has your favorite band of anime pirates dress up as Nintendo characters, which sounds like a thing straight out of FanFiction.net. The potential for amiibo compatibility is just tantalizing.
I’m just thankful they haven’t made amiibos of all 720 Pokemon yet.
Sang Bae is a Deputy Photo Editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.