Amiibo is Nintendo’s version of the ever popular “toys-to-life” video game genre dominated by such titles as Skylanders and Disney Infinity. The major difference with Nintendo’s implementation of these game pieces is that they are meant to be used between more than one type/genre of Nintendo game.
Skylanders and Disney have an implementation plan and a single focus of their characters for use in their titles where the toys are all useful in game accessories (characters, powers, etc.), and tie into their respective games implicitly.
Nintendo’s history with the implementation of accessories (with the exception of controllers or game adapters like Super Game Boy) that were to be used across multiple titles has been poor at best. The plans for those accessories never pans out as anyone expects.
Even recent history shows us Nintendo made accessories for games are barely used between more than 5 Nintendo developed titles, at best. Third party support was often few and far between. More recently with Wii and Wii U accessories (with the exception of the original Wii Balance Board), third party support is practically non-existent.
Let’s look at some history for some accessories and their very limited support from Nintendo titles:
Nintendo Entertainment System
NES Zapper – Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman, Gumshoe, Hogan’s Alley, Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting
NES Power Pad – Short Order / Eggsplode! (only Power Pad title developed by Nintendo)
R.O.B. – Gyromite, Stack Up
Memory Expansion Pak – Donkey Kong 64, Perfect Dark, TLoZ: Majora’s Mask
Transfer Pak – Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Pokemon Stadium 1 + 2
DK Bongos – Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, Donkey Konga 3
Balance Board – Wii Fit, Wii Music
Wii Wheel (shell for Wii Remote) – Mario Kart Wii
Wii Zapper (shell for Wii Remote) – Link’s Crossbow Training
Wii Speak – Animal Crossing Wii
Here the case for the concern about Amiibo is clear. Nintendo, throughout their history of creating video games, has had terrible support from first party titles for their own accessories. Some of these accessories share some success with third party titles, like the Wii Balance Board and the original NES Zapper.
The problem with Amiibo is amplified by the fact that its own nature excludes pretty much any third party support. Even with the inclusion of Sonic and Mega Man, which was done strictly for Super Smash Bros. Wii U, I doubt that Nintendo will allow Sega developers or Capcom to use those Amiibos as they see fit in their games. That’s accounting if there are even any Mega Man or Sonic titles coming in the near future (Sega just released Sonic Boom, which has no Amiibo support).
And the official Nintendo support chart for Amiibo across Nintendo titles doesn’t even tell the whole story of full support for the Amiibo figures. As of now, Super Smash Bros. is the ONLY game in Nintendo’s roster that supports all the current figures and reads/writes to the Amiibo figures. Even then, the figures only have enough memory to support one game. That means if Nintendo makes another titles that writes to the Amiibo figures, the figures’ data needs to be wiped before it can be used for another game.
Secondly, games like Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors, which seem to have full support for a few characters, actually can only read data from the character and unlock game extras. That means the Amiibo actually is not an active part of the game, just a physical unlock key for extra content already in the game.
Amiibo support going into Holiday 2014 and beyond is suspect at best, with only a remark that support will come to the Captain Toad game (but no firm date or info on which Amiibo), and no future titles after that.
Looking at this already shaky ground that Nintendo has placed Amiibo on, I would only consider it as a nice toy collectable if you love Nintendo characters; they look nice and would do well in a figure collection. Outside of this, if you’re a gamer looking for an enhanced experience in future Nintendo titles, I think you will be better off skipping Amiibo, as it will just be another accessory that Nintendo forgets about in the coming months.