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AmiiBoo: The Currently Lackluster Implementation of Nintendo's NFC Figures

by Justin Berube - August 7, 2014, 10:21 am PDT
Total comments: 25

Justin doesn't think Nintendo's currently proposed use of NFC figures is very compelling.

We've known for a while that Nintendo has been planning to dabble in the realm of NFC figures. I mean, there is a NFC reader right on the Wii U GamePad. Last year the Big N even had a test run of sorts with Pokémon Rumble U figures.

At E3 two months ago, Nintendo blew the lid off their NFC figures, dubbed Amiibo. I've had plenty of time to think about it now and, quite frankly, I'm not impressed.

While Nintendo has confirmed that Amiibo will be used in a variety of different games, they only discussed how they will work in their debut title, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Basically, they allow the player to let computer controlled characters (the Amiibo) duke it out and to fight against or alongside human players. Playing with Amiibo characters in game will slowly raise the computer-controlled character’s to level 50, well beyond that of the level nine cap in the game.

My problem with this is that the actual implementation in the game environment is extremely boring. Most people do not buy Smash Bros. in order to play against computer-controlled opponents. Now, with Amiibo, Nintendo is asking players to pay a premium to experience this element at its fullest.


There is a possibility of Amiibo implementation in Smash Bros. taking off in some ways. It would be interesting to see Amiibo only tournaments, or team tournaments where a human must compete alongside their Amiibo. However, I'm sure if these things do happen they will become side events and not taken very seriously.

Other than their in game implementation, I also have a few concerns about the actual Amiibo figures. First, the prototype figures appear to be quite fragile. I've already seen a few broken ones in Nintendo's cases. I hope the final versions are sturdier.

Second, is the Amiibo figure packaging. Many of you know I'm a Nintendo collector. I've also spoken to a few other collectors as well and many of us are worried that it may be impossible to use the figures while they are still in their package. This would put many of us in the unfortunate position of having to either open our Amiibo for use, or to leave them sealed and useless for eternity.


The good news is the figures themselves look nice and they will work with multiple games across Nintendo platforms. Additionally, since Nintendo has stated there will be figures for each Smash Bros. character on the roster, many lesser characters could, for the first time, come to life in the physical world.

Hope is also on the side of those who want Amiibo to be implemented in a more exciting way. The truth is we currently don’t have any idea how Amiibo figures will be used in other games, or in games they aren’t from. This is extremely important for the product line since it will determine the true value proposition of each figure moving forward.

In short, Nintendo's Amiibo figures seem like a great idea on paper, but the currently proposed implementation in their first game, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, is very unexciting. Nintendo had the chance to wow me with their initial use and presentation, but they didn't. Hopefully, moving forward, the in game use of Amiibo figures becomes much more exciting. I just hope we hear about it sooner rather than later.



pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterAugust 07, 2014

Hopefully 'more exciting' doesn't wnd up meaning, 'more forced'

peacefulwarAugust 07, 2014

I have a local independently-run used game shop near me that has an entire shelf of used Skylanders figures, all hanging in presorted bags.  They had to do this because their glass counter cabinet got too full.  This is what's going to happen to the Amiibos.  They will be collected and sold MIB on eBay until the end of time, and very little else.  It's nothing more than marketing, it doesn't change the landscape of gaming in any form or fashion; it's just another way to sell toys, and milk more money out of parents.  Think of them as physical microtransactions.

peacefulwarAugust 07, 2014

Sorry for the doublepost but here's some ideas just off the top of my head that could make Amiibos worth purchasing:

-Free or discounted versions of VC games that feature that character in it
-Special costumes for your Mii on the Wii U that are themed via the Amiibo
-3DS camera implementation with use of AR cards
-A Smash Bros MMO which Amiibos can help enhance your Avatar
-Any public event which would allow people to take advantage of bringing their Amiibos with them
-An Amiibo board game that takes advantage of the WiiU

Evan_BAugust 07, 2014

The only saving grace for these figures, to me, is that they are being used across a variety of titles. But in making them non-essential to the game experience, Nintendo has ensured that Amiibos will not offer anything substantial, but supplemental, to these games. This is worrisome, and it makes me almost wish that there was an Amiibo-specific title for these figures to take the stage in, like Skylanders/Infinity. The only problem is, the only game that would need the cast of Nintendo's franchises in it is Smash Bros, and this is how Amiibos are being implemented in that title.

The name itself speaks more about the concept. Amiibos is definitely a play-on-words of amigos, which makes me think that these "friends" will assist in games rather that be the controlled avatar themselves, which seems counter-intuitive. The only reason people get crazed about Skylanders and Infinity characters is because it gives YOU the chance to play as a character, not to have them act alongside the player. However, this really is only one implementation of Amiibo, and their use could extend into different areas. So far is seems as if Nintendo is missing the point of NFC.

Ian SaneAugust 07, 2014

There is a tricky balance between making this worthwhile and restricting a game by making the purchase of toys practically mandatory.  A new game would be ideal because those of us that don't want to collect toys can just not play it.  Though Skylanders is technically part of the Spyro franchise it's so far removed from the original series that it was like a brand new IP.  SSB has a pre-existing fanbase that might not react favourably to effectively microtransactioning the shit out of the game with Amiibo.  Evan's idea of an Amiibo specifc title makes perfect sense.  The point of NFC is that it's a scam and to really do the scam effectively they need to target an isolated audience.  Going after any existing audience of a Nintendo series is just going to cause backlash or need to be neutered to the point where it's an ineffective scam.

StratosAugust 07, 2014

Change Mario Party to Amiibo Party and let you play as any Amiibo in the game. There is an Amiibo-mandatory title. Also, use them in all of the "Mario" ensemble games like Mario Kart or the sports titles to add non-Mario characters to the games.

LucarioAugust 07, 2014

Good idea Stratos! ;D

ShyGuyAugust 07, 2014

I bet I will see all of them on future episodes of King Nintendo Fanboy ;)

Triforce HermitAugust 08, 2014

I can't see anyway this could make the average consumer want to buy these unless they were mandatory for the game experience. Aside from the Mario Kart 8 idea that is. Aside from collector value, I see it as a money pit.

Have you seen the kind of money Activision's raked in with Skylanders?

Triforce HermitAugust 08, 2014

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

Have you seen the kind of money Activision's raked in with Skylanders?

Aren't those mandatory? Skylanders has it essential to the game. It is required to expand your gaming experience. With the Amiibo, it is merely supplemental. It slightly enhances the game. There isn't much there to justify a purchase if all of the support will be similar to Super Smash Bros.

But we know almost nothing about how they're going to be used, and I'm very confident in Nintendo's ability to get people to pay extra for largely irrelevant plastic crap.

Triforce HermitAugust 08, 2014

All I'm saying is that the first impression is pretty crappy and I can't see how Nintendo is going to convince people to buy it without making it mandatory.

They convinced people to buy the Wii Zapper, something that by its nature couldn't ever be mandatory.

ShyGuyAugust 08, 2014

Link's Crossbow Training is MANDATORY FUN

Triforce HermitAugust 08, 2014

Nintendo cashing in on the motion control trend and Twilight Princess. In other words the exact same thing Nintendo is doing with the Amiibo figurine. I know when I'm beat :-X

KhushrenadaAugust 08, 2014

As someone else commented on a different site, they really should have called these things, Amiigo. It would make so much more sense by having the word go there considering the portability and it is a play on the word amigo with the mii name in it. Even the name implementation has been lackluster.

There may have been a trademark issue in play with that. Or Nintendo did it weird for no reason. I could believe either one of those.

Ian SaneAugust 08, 2014

I think Amiibo is a really dumb name but I'm kind of numb on dumb names from Nintendo by now.  I think they actually think that the Wii's dumb name made a major contribution to its success so they have like a whole team dedicated to thinking up stupid names.

Is Skylanders a videogame that makes you buy toys or is it a toy line where the toys can also interact with a videogame?  There is a big difference in how the concept is approached.  One is a scam and one is more like a neat bonus.  If you see the Skylanders videogame as a modern equivalent of an action figure playset then it's not a scam.  But Nintendo isn't offering it like that.  I think their approach is more to use the videogames they would have made anyway to try to sell toys.

Of course the obvious idea here is to take the Pokemon toy line that they've already had for years and implement NFC into it and make a Pokemon Stadium style game that uses the toys.  There's a pre-existing toyline and game that share a fanbase that would likely buy the two seperate products anyway.  I think the one restriction here is that no one owns a Wii U but such a game could probably encourage a fair amount of console purchases.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterAugust 08, 2014

How about Amiigo for a name.

I mean, I know you like to copy successful ideas from Khush, but if you're going to do it in the same thread you should at least wait until the next page.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterAugust 08, 2014

I didn't even see that, errr how about garbage, :D

KhushrenadaAugust 08, 2014

Nice recovery.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterAugust 08, 2014



morphaAugust 08, 2014

This article is so premature, you could make a Gordon Ramsey meme out of it.

P.S. Ammibo is basically Rob the Robot 2.0 and they will almost certainly have a Amiibo Direct at some point.

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