How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Amiibo
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 3rd, 2014 No Comments
When Nintendo announced the Amiibo, its line of NFC figures, it confused people. It wasn’t necessarily why the company would cash in on the lucrative “toys to life” craze, but what the toys actually did. It was a simple announcement that these figures were coming out and they would do something — and that something was anyone’s guess.
Since then, every bit of clarifying information about Amiibos has only caused more questions. Recently, we got a chance to see the Amiibo in action. The good news is they now make total sense, and all it took was a small demo.
An Asimov-esque Experience
We got a chance to see how the Amiibo functioned in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Amiibo essentially function as intelligent AI in games. Using the Amiibo couldn’t be easier. You simply tap the figure against the GamePad and it pops up into the game. The figures learn and level up as you use them.
In the beginning, Amiibo start off with little knowledge or ability to do much. They learn as they level up making them an evolving AI. A beginner Pikachu Amiibo can’t use items or block or guard or use charge attacks. They are like babies trying to fight (which would be a sweet game idea).
As the Amiibo fight against you, other Amiibo, other players and in-game CPUs, they learn how to perform actions. When fighting a fresh Amiibo, if you pick up an item, it will learn to pick up and use an item. If you let off a charged attack, it will begin to incorporate charge attacks into its actions.
You can also boost an Amiibo’s skills by feeding it the equipment you use to customize characters. Each Amiibo’s stats has a threshold, so after a certain point they will stop gaining points. It is a good way to buff up your character, but once equipment is given to an Amiibo, it is gone forever.
The Amiibo can be re-written and you can choose to save progress. If you want to rebuild a character, you can always do so. Amiibo retain all information, so they can be taken to other friends’ houses and thrown onto their GamePad and used in the game.
This is what makes Amiibo an interesting idea. You can shape how these Amiibo play. You train them by fighting against them and shape their stat strengths by feeding them equipment. So you can make a super fast Bowser or a total bruiser in Toon Link. It allows you to make tough competitors to fight against.
Since Super Smash Bros. is the first game they are being used in, they can act as good sparring partners since they learn your strengths and weaknesses (and the strengths and weaknesses of other players). A high level Amiibo can be as tricky and deadly as a human opponent.
Facing off against Amiibo causes them to learn to perform actions, they also learn about you and other players. The more you lean on a strategy, the more they pick up on it as they level up. Soon they will recognize this and be able to counter it and give you a run for your money.
They are a way to sharpen your skills and learn new ways to round out your play style. Especially in Super Smash, where having multiple styles is helpful to keep you on top. Additionally they work to add in smarter fighters when playing with friends.
In lieu of being able to get a bunch of buddies together to play Smash and train, you can use the Amiibo as stronger opponents than a typical computer (even a high level one). Or if you don’t want to get into the whole issue of getting 8 controllers and friends together for 8 Man Smash, you can use Amiibo as additional fighters.
While Super Smash Bros. for Wii U may be the only game to support Amiibo natively this November 21, it isn’t the only game to support them. The upcoming Mario Party 10 and Yoshi’s Wolly World will have native support, and Mario Kart 8 will be able to use them in a future update. Additionally Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will support certain figures in 2015. The remaining question is how Amiibo will work across different games.
Information on future plans for the Amiibo was scarce. However, given how the figures function in Super Smash, it is easy to extrapolate a bit on how they would function in Mario Party 10 or Mario Kart 8 as dynamic AI to race or mini-game against. Not so obvious is the function for them in Captain Toad or Yoshi’s Wolly World or other single-play oriented games, but never count Nintendo out on figuring a clever way to utilize unique peripherals.
The Amiibo is probably one of the more fascinating Nintendo console peripherals in a while (much better than e-reader cards or AR cards). Even if people never use them in games, the figures themselves have a good build quality with a decent weight for the size making them perfect to display. Amiibo are worth giving a look, especially if you’re planning to Smash it up!
tags: amiibo , Mario Kart 8 , nintendo , opinion , Super Smash Bros for Wii U , wii-u