A review by Rebecca Fleming
Release date: November 2014 – ongoing
(Note: This post was originally written in December 2014 and was updated in January 2015. Functionality and availability of Amiibos was correct at the time of writing, but may change in the future; I will try to keep it up-to-date if possible.)
After the success of cash-cow franchises Skylanders and Disney Infinity – that use collectible physical figures to unlock content in the games – it’s not surprising that Nintendo decided to jump on the bandwagon as well. Their entry to the ‘playable figure’ market takes the form of Amiibos, figurines based on beloved Nintendo franchise characters on a base with near field communication (NFC) capability, allowing them to be scanned with the Wii U’s GamePad controller or the lower half of the New 3DS (after an upcoming firmware update, I believe. Also, a hardware add-on will be made available at some point so older 3DS models can use them as well).
While some people are desperately racing out to collect every single Amiibo figure, I’m only collecting my favourite characters (I don’t have the money or energy to spend on characters I don’t know or care about), so unfortunately I can’t show you the whole line up. There were 12 figures released on November 21, 6 released on December 12, 11 expected to release in February 2015 and another 6 slated for release sometime in early-to-mid 2015, with these waves making up the Super Smash Bros collection. In a Direct presentation in January 2015, Nintendo also announced the Super Mario Amiibo series, due in March 2015. Functionally, all the Amiibo serve the same purpose, however there are cosmetic difference between the two sets. Amiibo that were released in the Super Smash Bros waves have black bases, while those that will be released under the Super Mario set will have red bases. Also, characters that exist in both sets will have different poses in each one.
Here is my collection so far:
This is a full list of the characters from each wave:
Wave 1 (SSB): Mario, Peach, Yoshi, Link, Pikachu, Samus, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Fox McCloud, Villager, Marth, Wii Fit Trainer.
Wave 2 (SSB): Zelda, Luigi, Diddy Kong, Little Mac, Pit, Captain Falcon.
Wave 3 (SSB): Bowser, Toon Link, Shulk, Sheik, Ike, Rosalina, Sonic, Mega Man, King Dedede, Lucario, Meta Knight.
Wave 4 (SSB): Wario, Pac-Man, Ness, Charizard, Robin, Lucina.
Wave 1 (SM): Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Toad, Bowser.
For those of you familiar with Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Nintendo Amiibo figures work a little differently. The first two franchises let you scan your character (usually with a portal that comes with the game disk) and play as that character in the game, often helping the player access areas or content that can only be unlocked if you buy that particular character. The functionality of the Amiibo figures, on the other hand, depends on the game you use them in. While a few games can (or will be able to) write data to the Amiibos, it seems that most games use them on a read-only basis. Unfortunately Amiibo can only store data for one game at a time, so if you try to use it on a second game that writes data to the Amiibo, any information from the first game would be erased.
If you use them in Super Smash Bros, each Amiibo can be trained and leveled up by fighting against them. You can then either battle against the Amiibo yourself (improving your own skills as well as the AI of your Amiibo), fight alongside them in battle or make them fight against your friends.
In Mario Kart 8, you can unlock costumes for your Mii racers based on the character you scan.
If you scan your Amiibo into Hyrule Warriors while on the title screen, they will give you items or materials you can use in game, ranging from various amounts of rupees and materials normally dropped by enemies to weapons for your characters.
You can only use five Amiibo per day in Hyrule Warriors. The first time you use the Link Amiibo, you will unlock the Ancient Spinner weapon, which is pretty powerful and fun to use.
At this stage, the above-mentioned three games are the only ones that include Amiibo support, but varying levels of functionality will be included in some future releases (such as Mario Party 10, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse), as well as potentially patched into some older games.
I don’t have Super Smash Bros. At least not the Wii U version (I have the 3DS one but I played it for 20 minutes and then went back to playing Fantasy Life), and I don’t play Mario Kart 8 very often, so what I will get out of the figures in terms of functionality is limited (I have fun seeing what they give me in Hyrule Warriors). However, the main reason I got the Amiibos is for display purposes, as the quality of the figurines is surprisingly high. When you look at the prices of other figurines of similar quality, the Amiibo are quite good value. However, there have been widespread reports of stock shortages, especially with less popular characters (such as Fire Emblem’s Marth from wave 1 and Punch-Out’s Little Mac from wave 2), so you may have to do a bit of hunting around to find some. Many stores have completely sold out of all Amiibos, though common characters like Mario and Pikachu can usually be found without too much effort
(EDIT: as of this update on Jan 17, 2015, even these are difficult to find).
If there are any characters you want from future waves, I highly recommend pre-ordering them as soon as possible so you don’t miss out.