FIG­URES OF FUN

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We’re ac­cus­tomed to oth­ers fol­low­ing Nin­tendo’s lead, but with Ami­ibo, it’s play­ing catch-up, at­tempt­ing to cash in on the toy-game mar­ket dom­i­nated by

and The key dif­fer­ence is that Ami­ibo char­ac­ters are de­signed to work across mul­ti­ple game se­ries, al­low­ing you to ac­cess dif­fer­ent con­tent within each. In the Wii U ver­sion of the new

for ex­am­ple, you’ll be able to scan in your Ami­ibo fig­ure to fight against or along­side you, or put it into bat­tle against AI char­ac­ters to boost its de­fence stats and learn new moves. How that data will trans­fer into other games (Nin­tendo has promised func­tion­al­ity within this is still a note­wor­thy de­vel­op­ment for a company that has al­ready uni­fied its con­sole and hand­held di­vi­sions. Par­tic­u­larly given that, de­spite ear­lier ex­per­i­ments with con­nec­tiv­ity on DS and Wii (and, to a much lesser ex­tent, GameCube and Game Boy Ad­vance), we’ve not seen 3DS and Wii U talk­ing to one another much so far.

In the­ory, such a move should re­duce de­vel­op­ment spans and cost, and it’s not be­fore time, too: with third­party support at a very low ebb, par­tic­u­larly on Wii U, Nin­tendo has laboured to simultaneously support two dif­fer­ent con­soles with a steady stream of re­leases. Many as­sume that Nin­tendo’s next piece of hard­ware will be a de­vice that func­tions as a por­ta­ble and can be plugged into the TV, though another ap­proach is two de­vices – like iPhone and iPad – that share the same soft­ware. Nin­tendo will, of course, first need to mod­ernise its rather ar­chaic stance on user ac­counts and cross­com­pat­i­bil­ity, but New 3DS cer­tainly seems to be a step in the right di­rec­tion. There are nat­u­rally prob­lems with such a change of di­rec­tion, not least that Nin­tendo has forcibly driven a wedge be­tween the 40-mil­lion-plus play­ers who al­ready own a 3DS and adopters of the new hard­ware. Few third­par­ties will be par­tic­u­larly keen to support the de­vice in any mean­ing­ful way, since do­ing so will de­prive them of mil­lions of po­ten­tial sales. And would Nin­tendo ever make a Mario or Zelda game ex­clu­sive to New 3DS? Though it could cer­tainly do with more sys­tem sell­ers, such a move is highly un­likely, es­pe­cially given Nin­tendo’s

Sky­lan­ders In­fin­ity.

Bros,

Mar­i­oKart8, Cap­tain Toad:Trea­sure Tracker and Yoshi’s Woolly World) re­mains to be seen, and it’s cu­ri­ous to note that the first batch of 12 – which will launch this win­ter along­side Smash­Bros – is ti­tled ‘the Su­perS­mashBros col­lec­tion’, sug­gest­ing we’ll see mul­ti­ple vari­ants of the Mush­room King­dom gang. At £11 each, they’re rea­son­ably priced, and while par­ents might baulk at pay­ing for yet more plas­tic fig­ures, they’ll cer­tainly be de­sir­able to the company’s loyal fans as well as its younger ones.

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