Amiibo Tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits is a free app on the Wii U, which just released yesterday. It’s main focus is to stir up interest in Amiibos while also stirring up interest in Virtual Console games on the eshop. In theory, that sounds like a great idea! In execution… it’s kind of confusing.
So, how’s it work? Well, each Amiibo has one of 30 VC games (NES/SNES) randomly assigned to it. When you tap one to the gamepad, it brings you to an “unwrapping” screen so you can discover which game you’ve unlocked. Games do not correlate to the specific Amiibo you’ve scanned either; as in, scanning Kirby does not mean you’ll get a Kirby VC game. Once you get past the unwrapping phase, you can then play a demo of your game, which lasts about two minutes. Games are windowed and surrounded by a timer, eshop link, and manual link. You can cycle through a couple of scenes from the game by tapping the Amiibo again. When done, it brings you back to the menu screen where you can tap another Amiibo.
While that sounds like an interesting idea, it only is until you realize that each Amibo is specifically tied to one, and only one, game. There are 30 games to sample in Amiibo Tap, which means that (at the very minimum) you need 30 Amiibo to sample every game available. Sheer cost aside, I’ve found that the most crazed Amiibo collectors are the most dedicated Nintendo fan. This means that there’s a fairly good chance that these people either own, or have at least played, every single game in Amiibo Tap. I certainly have, and I’m not one of the people standing in line at 4 AM in hopes of procuring a golden Mario Amiibo. I own 18 Amiibo, so I was able to get more than half of the available games. I think Kirby’s Dream Course is the only game that I don’t own in some form.
I think the real issue here is that Nintendo doesn’t understand the market for their Amiibo. I understand that their intended audience was a younger crowd; the same crowd that enjoys Skylanders and Disney Infinity. I also understand that the younger crowd didn’t grow up with NES/SNES, so playing samples of those games would be great for getting them into older games and, perhaps, purchasing them. And if that were the case, this app would work as intended. Unfortunately, the market for Amiibo seems to be nerds (like myself) that grew up with Nintendo and now have an opportunity to get cheap collectible figures of characters that, normally, would never have been made otherwise. Characters like Ness, Captain Falcon, and Little Mac haven’t had their own figures released outside of Japan.
Overall, it seems counter-intuitive to making me want to purchase either product. In order to sample a 2-minute demo of a VC game, I have to own an Amiibo. But, the game that unlocks is random, so even if there’s a game on there that I haven’t played, there’s a 1/30 chance that that specific game will unlock. So, it either assumes that I already own Amiibo or will purchase them to play this app. In the latter case, it would be cheaper just to purchase all 30 games from the VC over spending the money to buy Amiibo.
This might be better if you were limited to one scan a day, and every day that unlocked a new game sample. It would take you 30 days to unlock everything, and I might be more inclined to purchase VC games knowing that I only needed one Amiibo figure. If you’ve played NES or SNES, chances are… you’ve played the games available on Amiibo Tap. If you were a member of Club Nintendo, there’s an even better chance that you own most of the games too. If not, and you own a few Amiibo already, then give it a shot. Maybe you’ll find something you like. But don’t rush out and buy Amiibo just to play a dew demos.