Nintendo needs to remember what amiibo do

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I know it sounds weird to try to tell a company their own business. But when you’re someone like me, who has purchased over 70 amiibo, you start to feel like a shareholder.

Do you guys remember amiibo? You should, Nintendo still makes them. While some people loved to hate on them, I thought they were amazing. For a few bucks more than a Funko Pop you got a remarkably well-sculpted statuette of a character you liked.

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Beyond just looking cool, and unlike Funkos, actually looking like the character you’re a fan of, amiibo had a secondary (or primary, depending on the person) use. Each one of these have little NFC chips in the base that allow them to interact with particular games.

The usages of these varied wildly and were mostly game specific. Scanning a character into Mario Kart 8, Yoshi’s Wooly World or the first Super Mario Maker gave you a specific outfit based on that character. It didn’t change the game play, it just looked neat. And honestly, driving around Mario Kart in Mega Man armor let’s me live out my dream of one day getting a Mega Man-themed kart racer.

Animal Crossing has a lot of amiibo support. Over a hundred cards and amiibo are available that allow you to summon various characters in the game to either have coffee with, invite to live on your island, or build a dream house for.

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One of my favorite things is when games allow crossover weirdness to occur.

In the Nintendo Switch version of Skyrim, scanning a Legend of Zelda amiibo allows you to summon a treasure chest which might contain something like the Master Sword or Link’s Tonic. In Bayonetta 2, using amiibo allowed you to access new outfits based on Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Samus and Fox McCloud. In Animal Crossing New Leaf, scanning a Monster Hunter Stories amiibo allowed you to invite one of Monster Hunter’s cat-like Feylne to your island who brought with them a ton of Monster Hunter-themed furniture.

But over time there’s been a massive dip in amiibo support. I remember being crushed when Super Mario Maker 2 came out and didn’t have a bunch of costumes to play as. In the first game, as long as you were playing in the 8-bit original mode, you can scan damn near any amiibo and play using a skin of that character. It didn’t change how it played but running around as Mario and jumping on enemies as Pikachu was really fun. And, you could make it so any stages you uploaded could also change the players into it so the outfits weren’t hidden away for only those with amiibo.

That lead to the main argument against amiibo, however. People felt that things were “hidden behind a paywall from all players.” I, personally, feel like this is a problem that could have easily been fixed though.

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Sure, I’ll admit moments like in Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U in which Link and Zelda’s amiibo unlocked ridiculously powerful new fighting modes for each of them, that couldn’t be unlocked any other way, was a bit unfair. But, how about instead of locking them away, just make it so you can access it early. Or at least just focus on cosmetics or things like in Animal Crossing where you can just increase the likelihood of encountering a character you’re a fan of.

But hear me out. See, it’s still really common for games to have a bunch of DLC. Fighting games are now DLC machines, season passes exist unfortunately, weapons, costumes, all sorts of stuff still exist as DLC and amiibo didn’t get rid of that. It just brought them back to being boring.

If you were a Legend of Zelda fan, getting the specific amiibo didn’t just guarantee that you got a cool statue of Link, it also told you that whenever a Legend of Zelda game came out, you could use it to do something cool — even if it was something merely cosmetic. It wasn’t paying for DLC, it was paying for multiple DLCs.

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Hell, Mario is compatible with around 15 different games, meaning if you’re a big fan of the plumbing man you can get a lot of weird Mario-themed goodies across games you wouldn’t expect. With Ace Combat for the 3DS, you can scan Mario and you get a special Mario-themed plane skin. It doesn’t change your stats, you just get the satisfaction of getting a lock on your opponent and muttering, “it’s-a me” before firing the killing strike.

I’m a Nintendo fan and I know how they are. They’re an “all-or-nothing” company. I still remember when the Smash Brothers game for the Wii U was announced as no longer having a story despite the fact that the one for the Wii had a fantastic story mode. It was because the beloved director, Masahiro Sakurai, found out that people were uploading gameplay on YouTube and was like, “Well, I don’t like that people are getting to see this without playing,” and decided to never include a story again. Nintendo takes their ball and leaves at the drop of a hat.

But they still make amiibo. I can go to Gamestop right now and get new amiibo for more recent titles. But the games no longer have the level of functionality they once did. Why? Can’t there be some sort of happy medium? Get in the comments. What do you think?