After months of anticipation and speculation, Nintendo's amiibo figures, announced earlier this year at E3, have finally arrived! Of course, they accompany the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but they are designed to be a cross-game accessory that will work with current and future Nintendo titles. I got my first four today, so let's take a look!
The packaging is neat and uniform, with nice backgrounds for each figurine. I picked up Samus (Metroid), Wii Fit Trainer (Wii Fit), Fox McCloud (StarFox), and Link (The Legend of Zelda). There are many more available in the initial run, but your wallet will thank you for only picking out a few, since they run $12.99 a figure.
Here are shots of the boxes (front and back) before I opened them:
Although they work with other games (currently just Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warrios), the packaging actually lists Super Smash Bros. on it, so it's clear that Nintendo intends these to be associated with the super-popular fighting franchise for this holiday season. It will be interesting to see if the packaging gets adjusted for future iterations.
Here are some close-up shots of each figure I bought:
The poses are all very similar (I think actually the same) as the statues in Smash Bros., and you might even note that the bases for each character feature the Smash coin. This certainly serves to help link the toys and the game, but I wonder if they will continue to keep amiibo so closely linked to Smash Bros. in the future.
I didn't include a picture, but I was surprised to find that the the packaging actually involves a carefully positioned piece of foil under the base that likely blocks the figures from being used from within the box. That's probably disappointing for collectors hoping to both use the characters and keep the packaging in tact. Still, it helped me rationalize the decision to unbox them and just enjoy the figures instead of trying to keep them locked away in plastic.
So here they are, out of the packaging:
The biggest thing to note is that three of the four figures have some type of stability-enhancing plastic piece: Link, Fox McCloud, and Wii Fit Trainer all have them; Samus does not. They certainly do make the figures feel more stable for some of these poses, but one has to wonder if a different pose might have been the easier decision. Notice how well Samus stands—and she looks cool the whole time.
The biggest complaint most people around the internet have had is with the Link figurine, which has a huge, yellow stand. In practice, though, I don't notice it all that much. What does bother me, though, is that his pose causes him to look down so much that you can't see his face. I would love to see a future Link figure standing more upright. Wii Fit Trainer, though, has a pretty iconic yoga pose, so I can't complain about that, and Fox McCloud strikes a nice mix of action, solid build, and an easy-to-see face.
The detail on the figures is fantastic, in my opinion, especially considering the small size. These are all about four inches tall and they look really great on display.
Of course, the point of these is not just how they look—they work with games, too! Seeing as how I only have Super Smash Bros. for 3DS so far, I could only test them out with Mario Kart 8. In this game, only ten of the figures are compatible, and they merely unlock costumes for your Mii racer. Still, let's take a look at the process:
From the title screen, you can hit the + button to go to the amiibo menu, which will show you all available outfits and highlight the ones you've already unlocked. This is a one-time process (note that I've already unlocked Fox McCloud). Unfortunately, no Wii Fit Trainer costume is available, but the other three characters I have do work with this game.
Next up, I scanned in Samus. You do this by simply touching the character to the bottom-left corner of the GamePad. The characters are instantly recognized with a visual and audio flourish:
Once you've unlocked a costume, it becomes available for your Mii racer. That means that you have to pick the Mii option from the character select screen, pick the Mii you want, and then pick the costume (you can still use the default racing outfit if you'd like). Added to the triple selection process of kart, wheels, and glider, that brings the Mii racer to a set of six decisions; it's more complicated than ordering a drink at Starbucks!
Here are a few shots of my Mii racing as Fox McCloud:
You can see I'm using one of the recently-released Mercedes cars, but I thought this retro racer looked cool with Fox McCloud's racing jacket and bandana. The costume for Fox is really more of a fox-themed helmet, but I love the little touches, including the StarFox logo on the back of his jacket.
Admittedly, the functionality with Mario Kart 8 isn't the most exciting, but I didn't buy these just for the costumes; I bought them for the physical toy aspect as well as the promise that these will work across multiple games in the future. Compared to Disney Infinity and Skylanders, I like the idea that these aren't just tied to a single game or franchise. It remains to be seen if Nintendo will continue to develop interesting uses for the figures, but it's certainly a neat experiment.