Amiibo figures are Nintendo’s answer to Skylanders, a popular “toys to life” phenomenon which uses toys that can be scanned into a video game currently being played. This unlocks additional content, usually along the lines of being able to access the character being scanned within the gameplay itself. To get started, you’ll need at least one Amiibo figure (which is purchasable at just about any major retailer, either in stores or online), a Nintendo 3DS or Wii U console, and a compatible game. Popular examples include Splatoon, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Maker.
Nintendo 2DS also supports Amiibo. You will need the 3DS Reader and Writer accessory as well, if you’re playing on one of the handheld systems. It ends up being quite an investment overall, especially once you start accruing a larger collection of individual Amiibo figures. They generally cost around $12 each at retail, a figure that can definitely add up. The interactivity between the toy and the game however is a whole new layer of fun that can easily help breathe new life into existing parts of your Nintendo library. After all, it’s easier on the wallet to squeeze some more hours of play into an old game by buying a $12 toy than having to buy a whole new game for $60.
Each Amiibo figure only stores game save data for a single game at a time. So, if you scan your Link Amiibo into Super Smash Bros, you’ll need to delete the save file that corresponds to that before you try to use him in Mario Maker. The exception lies within games that are set to “read only” for their Amiibo compatibility. This varies on a figure to figure, game to game basis. Nintendo has a chart online showing exactly which figures interact with which games in what way. One example of an almost universally “read only” title is Yoshi’s Woolly World.
How each game utilizes the Amiibo figures will also vary from title to title. Some unlock the characters for play, such as in Code Name STEAM, while others give you bonus items and power ups. There are some figures that won’t be compatible with every single game in your library as well, but Nintendo are always working to expand that. There are dozens of Amiibo figures at this point, and over 20 games that can utilize them.
To put this all into practice, you generally only have to tap the bottom of the Amiibo figure to the small touch point beside the screen on your Wii U game pad while in the game. For the handheld systems, you can navigate to your home menu and find the Amiibo settings near the bottom of the list. The figures will scan right on the viewing screen. It’s a very simple process overall, and perfectly intuitive. The games and consoles are all very responsive as well, meaning you won’t have to wait very long before your new content or character is ready to use.