I can't say I was too excited for Nintendo amiibo because to be honest, I didn't really know their purpose, other than providing some models of Mario and friends to place on my shelf. Well, now I'm addicted and a little worried that my wallet is going to suffer as a consequence.
When amiibo arrived in the post I was expecting them to be well presented and of good build quality and I'm happy to say that they pass on both counts. Figures sent to me included Pikachu, Mario, Kirby and Donkey Kong. All four look fantastic, although I'd urge Nintendo to perhaps rethink the plastic stand that accompanies Donkey Kong.
As you can see from the pictures, all the characters represent their video game counterpart well, so the next test was to try them out. Of course Smash Bros is the game that is meant to work best, but I thought I'd try Mario Kart 8 first to see what kind of functionality it included.
In Mario Kart 8 there is a new amiibo menu, selecting this brings up a list of characters and of the four I have, only Pikachu was missing (which is a shame really). Placing the amiibo on the Wii U gamepad unlocks a costume within the game for that respective amiibo, providing it is supported. It also unlocks an amiibo Mii on a motorbike, which allows you to choose the costume of choice before starting the race. In all, it's pretty limited functionality and to be honest I'd love to see Mario Kart 8 support amiibo more by adding something extra special. As it is, the costumes look fantastic and there is a real sense of awesomeness when you see your Mii sporting the amiibo's costume.
If there's one thing I have noticed about placing amiibo on the gamepad it's that on a flat surface they slide off, so you'll need to prop the gamepad up or just hold it in place. If you're good at balancing things you may be able to sit it on there without it sliding off, I did manage a few times, but with the gamepad not sitting flat I guess there's not a lot Nintendo could do about that.
Moving onto the next game and it was time for me to try out Smash Bros. This is the game to have most functionality at the moment, though it's still nothing too out of the ordinary. The first thing you'll do is register your amiibo in the game and give it a nickname and a costume, while you can also feed it special abilities to aid it during a fight. On this screen you'll also be able to see what level your amiibo is and view any special moves it has. To take part in the action, you simply place your figure on the Wii U and that character will be chosen to fight in the game. If you wish, depending on the fight, you can place all of your characters in, for instance I chose a 4-player smash with all the characters I have. The problem for me doing this was that I couldn't take part and they just fought it out amongst themselves, with Kirby being the eventual winner. You can also fight against the amiibo, which is certainly more fun.
Interestingly, as your characters fight, they'll level up, making them stronger and also earning them coins. You'll need to place your character on the NFC reader to update it now and again, but the experience is pretty seamless.
So that's about my experience with amiibo so far. I have to say it's pretty early days, but the investment in amiibo will be more than for the present, as these characters will no doubt support a wider range of games in the future and hopefully add more innovative functionality than what's on offer at the moment. I have to say that so far I'm pretty impressed, it's just that I want to see more of what amiibo has to offer than what I've seen so far.
If one things for certain it's that amiibo will look great on your shelf, I just hope that Nintendo has plenty of plans for you to take them off display. For now, amiibo is a fun way to interact with Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros and they could also make a great stocking filler too.