The Problem with Amiibo
I own 47 amiibo to date, and I love these things. They’re great quality statues that have various uses for Nintendo games. As much as I love them, they have shortcomings that Nintendo needs to fix before they continue rolling out tons more every year.
Amiibo are so much more available nowadays, not nearly as “rare” as they were back in year one. That being said, there’s still plenty that are nearly impossible to get. Why is female Corrin rare? Why is Skyward Sword and Majorahs Mask Link rare? Unless an Amiibo is limited edition like Gold Mario, they should not be hard to acquire by any means. It baffles me that Nintendo is fine with losing sales because interested consumers like myself are unable to buy their product. It’s a problem Nintendo often has (NES Classic), and it needs to change.
A base price Amiibo is $12.99 in America, which is pretty fair. What isn’t fair is when Nintendo charges $16 for Breath of the Wild amiibos. Why?? Charge extra for a massive Guardian, sure. Don’t charge me $3 more for Mipha, who is less detailed than Bayonetta and Palutena. Either give me a lot more for my money, or leave the price as it is, end of story.
My most important point, the unbalanced usage per Amiibo, which really alters the value of each one individually. So every Super Smash Bros. Amiibo is $13, and generally are the same quality in figure design, but some have far more “bang for your buck” than others. The Smash Link Amiibo has a vast range of usage: he is an AI fighter in Smash, like all the Smash Amiibo, he unlocks an exclusive weapon in Hyrule Warriors, he unlocks an exclusive costume in Breath of the Wild, he unlocks a costume in Mario Kart 8, and he works in various games for daily unlocks (Pokkén Tournament, Fire Emblem Warriors, etc.). Now let’s look at Palutena, just as one example. She works as a Smash sparring partners… and various daily unlocks… How is that fair? Sales aside, they cost the same, yet Smash Link is FAR more useful than Palutena. You can argue “Link has more games than Palutena to function in.” Fair point, but it doesn’t change the fact that you spent $13 on a less useful Amiibo. Animal Crossing Amiibos are constantly shelf warmers and on clearance because no one wants them, and yet they work in literally 3 games plus the various unlocks! Game quality aside, they still have more usefulness than Palutena, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Captain Falcon, and so on.
The Bright Side:
Nintendo is constantly making new games, and have kept the Amiibo in mind. Samus was a paperweight like ROB for the longest time, but now unlocks a power up in Metroid: Samus Returns, and will likely have a use in the upcoming Metroid Prime 4. This makes me hopeful for figures like Ness, Bayonetta, Boo, and so on, but still leaves me uneasy about ones like Palutena and Pit, where a new game is not even rumored.
I do not expect Nintendo to drop a game that makes Pac-Man as useful as Smash Link or Mario. What I think would be an amazing idea is to take notes from Amiibo Festival.<Amiibo Festival? That game sucked!> Yes it did, especially since it was a $40 game. The game, ignoring the price, is mediocre but still fun. What Nintendo should do is drop multiple small free mini games that require Amiibo to be played. The games will be small, simple fun, but cannot be played without Amiibo. Make a Monopoly style game that lets you play as whatever Amiibo you scan, with every single Amiibo being compatible, that way Palutena has a unique design and therefore some more value and usage. Or, make themed mini games for some of the less actively updating franchises. Make an endless runner (Temple Run style) using the Kid Icarus Amiibos flying in the sky. Also, you could take the concept from the 3DS with Puzzle Swap and Mii Quest. Each Amiibo unlocks a random puzzle piece, or becomes a fighter. It’s a flawed idea, for sure, but at least gives some reward for owning so many. What would really make me happy is if Nintendo started using Amiibo in games that aren’t their respective franchise. Wouldn’t it be so cool to use a Link Amiibo to get Link’s tunic in Mario Odyssey? Or for Lucina to unlock Falchion in Breath of the Wild? Or even for Mario to unlock Mario’s hat for your Inkling in Splatoon! A concept like this would make it so much easier for Amiibo from less used franchises to still keep up for juggernaut characters like Mario and Link.
So what does all this mean?
Will I stop buying less useful amiibo? Kinda. I personally only buy Amiibo that have a relevant use for me, such as Breath of The Wild Archer Link and the Inklings. That being said, I love the Fire Emblem franchise and have set a personal goal to own every single FE Amiibo, no matter how useful. I don’t even own Fire Emblem Warriors, but I did buy Chrom and Tiki already. As far as you, the reader, I say do whatever you want, but I recommend you research each Amiibo’s usage before buying. Wait for sales, as they come up often, unless you are really dying to get your hands on one of them. Don’t buy Amiibo from scalpers and certainly don’t become a scalper yourself, because Nintendo is very unpredictable when it comes to re-releasing figures. A friend of mine bought Pit for $40 on eBay as a Japanese import, and now Pit is warming the Toys R Us shelves on clearance for $8. Even a “rare” Amiibo like Silver Mario is only worth about $17 nowadays. Unless you are a die hard collector, I would recommend buying Amiibo that you LOVE. Get your favorite characters, or the one you think has a really impressive design, or the one that gets you that bonus you are dying for in your game. I have faith that Nintendo will give every Amiibo their due justice in time, so don’t feel discouraged if you bought a bunch of Amiibo that only have a use in one game, but keep in mind that Nintendo will probably re-release those Amiibo when a relevant game comes out, so don’t buy less useful Amiibo now in hopes that they will become useful later. I love Nintendo and I Love Amiibo, I just hope they continue to improve as their roster grows more and more each year.
Side note: I love Amiibo cards and think they are so great for their price. That being said, Nintendo needs to make more of them that work in more games. The sports cards are only good for one game, the Shadow Mewtwo card just gives early access to a character you get end game. I want to see these cards grow into much more. I’ve always wanted them to make Splatoon cards that unlock exclusive clothes or something (I really love buying clothes in Splatoon!).