One editor gives his take on Nintendo’s amiibo figurines and how they are currently being under-utilized by the company, suggesting they find a better purpose.
Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I’m an avid amiibo collector. I’ve picked up almost every single one of the scannable toys released thus far, ranging from the entirety of the currently available Super Smash Bros. line to the newly released Shovel Knight amiibo. My collection is all-consuming and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a little outrageous, but I bring this up to say that I’m not on the outside looking in at this point – I’m in it for the long haul.
With that said, I’ve come to realize that I just can’t find a riveting use for any of the toys I’ve amassed. Sure, it’s appealing to know that there are a wide array of games across both the Wii U and 3DS that support them, but unlocking Mii clothing in Mario Kart 8 or securing a fuzzy companion in Yoshi’s Woolly World feels like it should more of a bonus rather than the main selling point. That’s why I think it’s time for Nintendo to create an adventure game for its toys-to-life initiative that rivals the likes of Activision’s Skylanders franchise.
Now, a game that requires amiibo to be played has already arrived in the form of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival on the Wii U, but this lacklustre Mario Party knockoff was not at all what fans wanted. Instead, Nintendo needs to take cues from its fans that have continued to buy all of these scannable collectibles en masse without much reason to. It’s not that they’re chomping at the bit to unlock a new weapon in Hyrule Warriors, but because they genuinely enjoy these characters that have finally been immortalized as plastic statues – many of which have never had any sort of collectible up until this point.
The thing that Nintendo needs to realize is that the two biggest things going for it are its properties and its living room-centric multiplayer titles. So far the only game that’s capitalized on the popularity of more than one series by encompassing several is Super Smash Bros. – with Mario Kart 8 hopping on the bandwagon with post-launch DLC that included the likes of The Legend of Zelda‘s Link and a pair of Animal Crossing characters. Now it’s time for Nintendo to embrace another type of software that builds on this premise, exclusively through its amiibo.
There’s no question that these plastic figures already compete for shelf space against the various other toys-to-life collectibles found in the marketplace, and despite fierce competition they’ve become a major success for the company – that much is true. But their sell-through rate seems to vary based on the support they have for each new game, which is why select toys from the Animal Crossing and one-off Chibi-Robo lines have dropped their prices dramatically across a number of retailers. The Tom Nook statue, for example, is currently available for $5.50 USD on Amazon right now, but that could, admittedly, be the case for any number of reasons. Presumably, however, it’s a sign that sales weren’t as high as Nintendo had hoped for that particular product – which could have even had something to do with the lack of support the figure has within recent, high-profile releases.
These toys need a higher purpose, and a co-op adventure game (or any genre, really) could give them just that. Scanning in any of the various amiibo currently available on the marketplace, players could summon anyone from Mario to Splatoon’s inkling. Imaginations are free to run wild with the various possibilities such a game would hold, but the reality is that not every toy is supported equally. What a Skylanders-like take provides, however, is one massive and appealing common denominator across the entire lineup of these various figures, providing diehard fans and casual gamers alike with a reason to pick up some of the more oddball or unknown character offerings.
Now, competing in a market as flooded as the toys-to-life genre is a task in and of itself, but Nintendo already has the most appealing aspect to gamers locked down – beloved first and third-party characters. Iconic gaming mascots like Sonic, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Ryu, and Cloud all have amiibo on shelves or en route, which immediately makes the premise a lot more appealing to outside companies still holding off on taking the amiibo-inspired plunge. The house of Mario has the opportunity to create a crossover-based video game on-par with Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph film, and that’s an incredibly tantalizing prospect for fans of gaming as a whole.
The reality is that these toys have largely been optional at this point, which (while great for standard releases) doesn’t bode all that well in the long run. Outside of taking up shelf space, there’s just not much reason to pick them up for any given title. Instead, Nintendo needs to start giving the fans what they want from these toys, because right now they aren’t nearly as captivating as they could be.
Do you think Nintendo should release an amiibo-only game? What type of title would you like to see if so? Get at us in the comments.