It’s been a little over three years since Nintendo released their amiibo figures to varying degrees of success. They’ve been most popular with collectors, as they’re well made figures of many iconic video game characters. When it comes to actually using the amiibo, they’ve gotten a lot of mixed reception from players concerning whether they’re worth it or not. While the first few waves of smash amiibo were incredibly anticipated and actively sought out, Nintendo began to slow down after a year and saw less amiibo figures being brought out after they had released the majority of smash figures. At a glance like their attention on amiibo is fading a bit, but it instead hints at Nintendo putting more effort into the amiibo they release.
The Smash Bros amiibo, while great figures by themselves, didn’t add an incredibly useful feature to the title. It was a fun way for players to challenge their friends while they watch or teamed up with their trained amiibo characters fight one another, but even with their advanced AI, they still feel a bit like regular computer controller characters. The Mario Party amiibo were used as game pieces that could save items between matches, that while somewhat useful, still didn’t add that much to Mario Party itself. The issue with amiibo quickly declining in popularity was the fact that so many of them began to offer content that players could get simply by playing, such as unlocking Super Mario Maker costumes. It was nice for those who owned amiibo, but those without never had a reason to collect them when they could simply play through the multiple challenge modes to unlock them all. Splatoon saw the first real content that made amiibos feel more like DLC instead of just a feature that players could shrug off, since using these amiibo let players go through a few of the single player levels with new challenges that rewarded them with exclusive costumes and new mini-games.
Shovel Knight came as the second big hit for amiibo, which might sound a bit odd considering it has been released on nearly every other gaming platform at this point. The multiplayer for Shovel Knight at the time was tied to the amiibo, making it entirely exclusive to Nintendo systems. The amiibo allowed a second player to join in to play along and while this was considered unfair to those with the title on other platforms, it gave the amiibo additional value by allowing Nintendo players to have that extra content with a cool figure to boot. Considering Nintendo’s push for including even more indies on the Switch, it’s not completely ridiculous to think we might see another amiibo collaboration like this pop up for some of their other popular Nindie titles.
For those playing Breath of the Wild Wolf Link’s amiibo has ended up being one of the shining beacons of how more amiibo should function, as it allows players to run around with a wolf companion until he loses all of his hearts. This wolf will start at a meager three hearts if his amiibo used right away, but if players first use him with the HD remaster of Twilight Princess players can summon a wolf with up to twenty hearts once a day. Considering that Breath of the Wild is being noted for its difficulty, having this amiibo companion by Link’s side can make a big difference between winning a fight with a big monster or falling in battle. Using one of the five Breath of the Wild amiibo will also supply Link with some useful weaponry, and if a player is lucky, maybe even an exclusive piece of gear or environmental objects to help him get to some hard to reach places. They might not be necessary features for enjoying Breath of the Wild, but for amiibo owners it’s an extra delight for them to enjoy while they play.
Nintendo’s amiibo have improved quite a bit in just three years, with only a few lows along the way. If they wanted, Nintendo could even move to supplying all their DLC through amiibo as an alternative to simply buying it digitally. They have no plans to stop making amiibo anytime soon considering their continued support in the Switch. While it’s unlikely we’ll see fans going as crazy for amiibo as when they were first released, the quality in the figures themselves in addition to their bonus content has only increased and made them better than ever before. For collectors and those who enjoy added content, Nintendo seems ready to keep supplying us with amiibo that add that extra layer of enjoyment for years to come.