Double Take: Are The Upcoming Amiibo Worthwhile?

Double Take is a series where we take recent announcements and occurrences in the gaming industry and offer our immediate thoughts on them.

In the newest Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced tons of new amiibo. First was, of course, the next few waves of Super Smash Bros. amiibo. But then they followed that up with the reveal of Yoshi’s Wooly World amiibo. And then Splatoon amiibo. And Animal Crossing card amiibo. All these new amiibo vying for our attention raise the obvious question: are they worth it?

Amiibo are in a precarious position. They need to balance between two extremes: they can’t be near worthless, because they simply wouldn’t be a desirable purchase outside of their inherent novelty. Yet, they also can’t be too valuable, because then it feels like Nintendo is locking away content behind a paywall, a paywall that just happens to include physical figurines.

Smash Bros.’ amiibo managed to nail that balance, and any ulterior functions the Smash Bros. amiibo have in other games have been fairly small, and that’s fine; they can get away with being small bonuses. The amiibo dedicated to their own games, though, are another matter entirely. To justify another line of amiibo, they need to once again hit that perfect balance between worthwhile and locking off content. Now, the prices for these amiibo have not yet been announced, but it’s likely they will be about the same as the Smash Bros. line. So assuming they are about 12-15 dollars, are their confirmed functions enough to be worth the price?

ink amiibo

Splatoon amiibo unlock missions, and if you beat the missions you get exclusive gear. Really, this all comes down to the number and depth to these missions. If they offer very little playtime, it may not feel like enough for the price of the figures, although the exclusive gear will likely help alleviate this somewhat. If the missions are too robust, however, they may feel like they should have been in the main game, not locked away.

Yoshi’s Wooly World amiibo allow players to use multiple Yoshis at once, allowing those who play by themselves to experience something similar to those playing multiplayer. This is another tricky one; just how much can controlling two at once really change? Enough for a full priced amiibo? And if it affects gameplay too much, shouldn’t it just be in the game?

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer allows you to place card amiibo on your 3DS to design houses for the residents. The cards are likely cheaper than normal amiibo, which is nice, but they also seem to be absolutely necessary. From what we know, you need these cards to play the game at all, or at least, to get much out of it; so depending on the price of the base game and the cards, this could either be a clever way of doing things, leaning on the collectible spirit to make the game more fun, or an absolute rip off.

It’s hard to tell whether these amiibo lines will hit the sweet spot until we play their games ourselves. Collectors don’t care, obviously, but everyone else will have to decide for themselves: are they afterthoughts, locked off content, or something in between? It’s an important distinction, and it’s looking unlikely that Nintendo is nailing it in all of these cases. Hopefully I’m wrong, and the Inkling, Yoshi, and Animal Crossing amiibo are well worth purchasing and aren’t being forced – but the future isn’t looking the brightest for the quality of Nintendo’s new lines of amiibo.

Jonathan Harrington