Nintendo’s ridiculously cute diorama puzzler Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is out today in North America (Europe will have to wait until 2nd January). In our review we said it was “relentlessly charming and joyous, and is another example of Nintendo's developers flexing their creative muscles along with game-making skill. There's nothing else like this on Wii U, and it's a welcome addition to the system's growing library”.
Many of our readers commented at the lack of amiibo information in our review, this was for a simple reason — Nintendo hasn’t revealed what shape it will take yet. We know that Captain Toad is going to become an amiibo compatible game with an upcoming software update, Nintendo’s own website says “the game will also support select amiibo figures in 2015”.
So that got us thinking, given a bit more time to perfect the amiibo compatibility, how might it enhance the game experience when the update appears?
Current amiibo Implementations
The poster child for the amiibo revolution is, of course, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U; the current range of amiibo figurines were ultimately created for that game. You can can battle, train, and level-up your amiibo figures — you can even create your own unique amiibo by adjusting its attack, defence, and speed by 'feeding' it equipment. Currently this is the only game to offer “Read/Write compatible” amiibo support, so you can actually save your amiibo customisations onto your amiibo to load back at a later date.
Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors have now been retrospectively updated to support amiibo also, but their implementation is more limited. In Mario Kart 8 you can simply unlock a special costume for your Mii racer by using one of ten selected amiibo such as Mario, Samus or Link. In Hyrule Warriors you can use the Link amiibo figure to get the Spinner weapon from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess game; you can also use the Zelda amiibo figure to get a 3-star (or more) weapon. Touching any other amiibo will give you a surprise gift of rupees ranging from one to 50,000, or vital resources that can be used to contribute towards badges for your characters. So, these two games are read-only, which simply allow you to unlock bonus items but don't directly interact with the action.
The Future of amiibo
We know that — outside of Super Smash Bros. — Nintendo has plans for expanding the amiibo range during 2015, and has stated it will be creating ranges of characters outside of the Smash universe. The Mario figurine currently available is Smash themed, and we would wager that it will not be too long until we see a Tanooki suited Mario, or even a kart racing Mario amiibo. Aside from Captain Toad, it has also been confirmed that upcoming games such as Mario Party 10, Yoshi’s Woolly World and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will be amiibo compatible. The exact form of this compatibility is currently a mystery.
In 2015 we’ll also see a peripheral device released to allow the 3DS to read the NFC chip in amiibo, and indeed the new 3DS console has NFC support built in. Other than Super Smash Bros. for 3DS it has yet to be revealed which 3DS games will support amiibo at present.
How We’d Like to See amiibo Used in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Let’s start with the most important thing first, we’d love to see Nintendo release Captain Toad and Toadette amiibo figurines as we have lovingly mocked up for you at the start of this article. There could also be a Shy Guy amiibo for good measure, too. Not only would these look great on a collector’s shelf, but these will doubtless be key to successful amiibo support within the game as a Toad character is not one of the Smash Bros. roster of fighters.
While we could simply see these two figurines used to unlock bonus content added to the game via a software update, such as some new levels — we’d like to see a deeper read/write integration for these two main characters as they would not be used in Smash Bros. How about challenges set for completing certain levels and collecting all the three gems within a time limit in order to “level-up” your amiibo for battles when playing Captain Toad at a friend’s house? Though not necessarily fisticuffs, it could mean amiibo Toad characters racing through special puzzle areas. The initial game also has bonus stages for obtaining coins, so similar ideas could be used with amiibo stepping into the breach. Finally, if Treasure Tracker had co-op in the future — which could be fun with one on the GamePad screen and the other on the TV — having an amiibo assist in the absence of a second human player could be beneficial.
Other than new Toad-themed amiibo, it would be great to see other amiibo figurines find a home in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker too. As the game traces it’s origins back to Super Mario 3D World it would be a no-brainer to include support for Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach amiibo — but what form might this take? We could imagine the addition of some remixed levels which allows players to play as these three characters but also make use of Mario’s ability to shoot fireballs, Luigi’s high jump and Peaches hovering skills. If that's too drastic, consider the alternate characters in Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, all with the same abilities but giving an aesthetic variety.
We might also possibly see new game-changing power-ups added to the game. Currently the game features bonus objectives such as clearing a level and finding objects such as a hidden mushroom — imagine touching a Link amiibo to your GamePad and equipping Captain Toad with a hookshot to enable him to reach a hidden Triforce object? The possibilities are endless!
Challenges for amiibo
Unlike Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Nintendo’s amiibo have been pitched to consumers with the added benefit of use within multiple games as a unique selling point — this sets the bar very high. Currently we’ve seen clever implementation in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but just read-only unlocks within Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors. To fully deliver on the promise of amiibo, we’re expecting to see innovative uses of these “toys to life” figurines in the future. Without a core hub such as Skylanders this puts an additional burden on future Nintendo games to prove the benefits of amiibo.
How would you like to see amiibo used within Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker? Let us know your ideas by leaving a comment below.