If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to either the toy or video game worlds over the past two years or so, you’ve likely caught wind of the word Amiibo here and there. It’s quite an odd sounding name, but the premise that makes up what these things actually are is quite simple. To be quite blunt, Amiibo is Nintendo’s answer to the “toys to life” phenomenon that was largely kick started by the Skylanders series. Much like a QR code that you scan with your phone, custom amiibo toys can be scanned into devices that correspond with a video game system to unlock content.
In the case of Amiibo, the corresponding systems are the Nintendo Wii U and handheld 3DS system. The Wii U comes with a tablet-esque game pad that controls whatever game you’re planning. Through it, you can scan your Amiibo figures and change the game you’re playing in various ways. Certain games have more compatibility with Amiibo than others, and each figure does something a little different. All the same, the basic “toy to life” principle is in full effect here. You need look no further than Super Mario Maker for a great example of how it all works.
If you have Super Mario Maker on the Wii U and you also happen to have a Sonic the Hedgehog Amiibo figure, once you scan Sonic you will be granted access to a power up that turns your Mario character into a Sonic sprite. The sound effects and music will even change to give the experience even more oomph. For younger fans of video games, it’s just another fun little layer that will let you get even more longevity and variety out of the game. For older fans, it also adds an additional bit of nostalgia.
Both of these benefits are incredibly useful in making sure that a game remains interesting over time. New games these days cost quite a bit of money, usually between 50 and 60 dollars. If you have some Amiibo figures to use with your current Nintendo games, you’ll be able to squeeze just a bit more functionality out of them and give yourself a little more to do in the long run. It entails additional cost of course, but for many, the added fun factor is more than worth it.
Besides, even if you aren’t that interested in what Amiibo figures do for the games themselves, they can merely be enjoyed as collectibles. A lot of the characters included in the Amiibo lineup have never been merchandised in that way before. If you want a figurine of Little Mac from Punch Out for example, the Amiibo is pretty much your only option right now. Collecting Amiibo is a whole hobby unto itself, and one that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Nintendo has yet another hit on their hands. As one of the major gaming companies, they often receive criticism, but their gamble in entering the toys to life world has clearly paid off.