Monday, May 11, 2015

Nintendo Amiibo isn't worth purchasing

 Amiibo and Club Nintendo aren't worth it.  Club Nintendo didn't have good enough free Virtual Console games and the known accessories are complete junk.

We’re right in the middle of a storm. Nintendo botched it big time when it came to stocking the new Amiibo figures with any sort of sense, with such ridiculous, half-assed explanations it isn’t unreasonable to assume the supplies are scarce on purpose. The moment folks got wind of certain Amiibo figures being hard to get, the scalpers and desperate consumers declared war and dumb things are happening as a result. People are now importing Amiibo, re-selling them for several times the retail price and of course paying several times the retail price. Other people are just unhappy and/or disappointed. Add in children, a huge part of the Nintendo fanbase to the equation, and things just get sad.

When you get caught up in a craze like this, it’s easy to forget what’s important. Like, for example, if the damn things are even worth buying. Maybe you’re a fan of the whole NFC thing as a genre, and know exactly what you’re getting into. Maybe you couldn’t care less about Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but the adorable Nintendo characters are shooting daggers into your heart. Either way, buying into this stuff is a hell of an investment depending on your approach, and it’s absolutely worth discussing how you’re going to justify drop-kicking somebody’s mom to get a hold of Best Buy’s last Little Mac. Here are a few talking points.

Price is definitely a factor for anything, but the scarcity and instability of the secondhand market right now is making these things fluctuate everywhere but the unreliable retail locations. If you can find what you want at Toys R Us though, you can do pretty well. At least for the holidays, you get a slight discount when you buy two Amiibo figures. Normally, they’re $12.99 each. That’s pretty good in terms of NFC figures; Disney Infinity toys are a few dollars more. If you want to import to get the more hard to find Amiibo, you’re probably looking at around 20 bucks and shipping. The secondhand market is nutty, going as far as 50 dollars or more for the rare figures, like Marth. Do not pay more than around 20 dollars for an Amiibo. Do not pay more than around 20 dollars for an Amiibo. You will be disappointed.

Unfortunately, Amiibo seem prone to factory defects and paint issues. This makes pre-ordering thoroughly unappealing, which is awful considering how that’s going to be the only option for a lot of these things, unless they get restocked later. It’s still vague as to whether or not that’s going to happen, and to what capacity. Thanks, Nintendo! That said, when you get one without any problems, they’re pretty cool. Don’t expect the same level of artistry as the Disney Infinity figures, however. Those things are amazing. Amiibo are still nice pieces, and some of them have a lot of neat little details, like Peach. Some of the less complicated characters, such as Little Mac, are going to be a little boring if you’re not into the character or franchise. It’s also worth nothing the stands on some of these figures. Some of them are a hideous shade of yellow for no clear reason, and others just have them in visually awkward places. Mileage may vary on characters like Link and Captain Falcon.

Here’s the big one. In terms of actual, NFC video games thingy function, Amiibo are… kinda garbage. Especially compared to the competition. Right now, three games are Amiibo compatible: Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors and of course, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. In the first two, Amiibo simply unlock some in-game items, mostly cosmetic. Using the Link Amiibo in Hyrule Warriors does net you a new weapon, but the others just give you a random item. In Mario Kart 8, you get outfits for the Mii racer depending on which characters you use (not all of them are compatible). The functionality in Smash Bros. is a bit more elaborate, with the Amiibo becoming trainable A.I. which you can customize and fight with.

What’s going to make or break Amiibo is how Nintendo supports them after Smash Bros. When you look at Skylanders or Disney Infinity, you can immediately see the value. Buying a figure gives you tangible in-game content. If you pick up Hulk, you can play as Hulk. When you bust your ass to find a Little Mac, you could already play as him in Smash Bros. Unfortunately, with all the artificial scarcity going on, it’s hard to imagine a game revolving around the figures working out very well. If Amiibo continue to unlock alternate costumes and items, that doesn’t sit well with me either.
What does “Amiibo” even mean, anyway?

Ultimately, I’d be willing to argue that without the supply issues, Amiibo probably wouldn’t be the hot topic it is now. Does that mean Nintendo didn’t have enough confidence in the gimmick to hit the ground running with it? Who knows. What we do know is, they don’t actually do much, despite being neat little figures. If you’re into collecting things, by all means these are some of the best Nintendo-themed trinkets money can currently buy (for a generally affordable price, no less). Otherwise, if you want to see what NFC figure gaming is all about, those Disney Infinity figures are super nice, and do a lot more for you. You can also, like, find all of them in stores.

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