The Amiibo craze isn’t quite as insane as the Star Wars frenzies of the late 1990s, but it’s approaching that critical mass. And, as with all waves of consumer hysteria, it’s fun to sit back and watch.
Have I bought any Amiibo figures? Nope. I don’t have any Wii U games that interact with them, and none of the character selections compels me. I like Bowser and Luigi and Kirby just as much as any kid who grew an overactive video-game fixation like a brain tumor twenty years ago, but I don’t like them quite enough to buy a twelve-dollar figure that I can’t put to its intended use. Yet there are indeed some Nintendo characters that I’d buy in Amiibo form, interactivity be damned. I doubt I’ll see any of them, but they’re all under Nintendo’s aegis in some way. That makes them extreme longshots instead of mere ridiculous fantasies.
5. MAVDA FROM PANDORA’S TOWER
Pandora’s Tower is the darkest thing to come out of Nintendo since the finale of Mother 3. True, Nintendo only funded and co-produced Pandora’s Tower while Ganbarion, an outfit known mostly for One Piece games, did most of the work. Yet Nintendo had to approve the idea of a priestess named Elena suffering a curse that gradually mutates her, which sends her boyfriend Aeron into a ring of towers suspended above some hellish fissure. He slays beasts and brings their organs back to Elena, who must devour them (reluctantly at first, then rapaciously) lest she turn into some misshapen horror. All with the Nintendo seal of quality, of course.
Aeron and Elena are good kids, but the most interesting character from Pandora’s Tower is Mavda…or rather, Mavda and her husband. Mavda is a mysterious peddler who knows way more than she lets on, and that giant skeletal nightmare on her back is her spouse, rendered monstrous and gibbering by some alchemic misadventure long ago. He’s a nice fellow, though! And he and Mavda would make the most delightfully unorthodox Amiibo.
That won’t happen, of course. Pandora’s Tower is pretty obscure already, as Nintendo didn’t even publish it here. And Mavda and Mr. Mavda are far too elaborate a pair to capture in Amiibo plastic. But I’d like to see Nintendo try.
4. PORCUPO FROM SUPER MARIO BROS. 2
One of the strangest fascinations of my childhood: porcupines. I thought they were the best animals ever, next to the long-extinct ankylosaurus. Perhaps my subconscious hoped to warn me that I needed thicker skin in the adolescent years ahead. That was lost on me, however. All I knew was that Super Mario Bros. 2 had an enemy called Porcupo, and I couldn’t wait to face them. I even vowed that I wouldn't kill them. Porcupines aren't predators, after all. They don't deserve a barrage of deadly turnips.
Imagine my disappointment when Porcupos showed up rarely in the game. They’re nowhere near as common as Shy Guys or Bob-ombs or Birdos, and you can miss them entirely if you use the game’s warp vases. No wonder I wanted to make my own porcupine-centric game.
Porcupo didnt lodge in the grander Mario canon. Shy Guys and Birdo drive around in Mario Kart, but no one remembers Porcupo. Only my younger self really liked them. So if Nintendo actually made a Porcupo Amiibo, I would be powerless before that unfulfilled phantom of my childhood.
3. KACHI FROM SIN AND PUNISHMENT: STAR SUCCESSOR
I really like Treasure’s Sin and Punishment shooters, and I’m peeved that the second one, Star Successor, apparently sold so poorly that we’ll never get a third. Yet I don’t know if I’d buy actual toys based on Sin and Punishment. Yasushi Suzuki’s art is exquisite, but the base designs for the heroes and villains range from stock anime looks to really dumb outfits.
Dumb is what Star Successor hero Isa (left) wears, anyway: shorts and boots that make him look like the star of some low-budget cartoon where a space-faring kid and his dog fly around and/or learn about the solar system. However, I think heroine Kachi (on the right) merits an Amiibo for her more defined period attire. Between the hover board and the pink jeans jacket, she’s a vision of late-1980s pop future fashion. It was an age when many just assumed that Jordache and Members Only would dominate sartorial trends well into the human race’s intergalactic era.
That would make Kachi a good Amiibo in concept, but probably not in reality. From what I’ve seen, the more realistically proportioned characters in the Amiibo lineup, such as the Fire Emblem heroes, often have the faces of bootleg anime figures. So it’s best to leave Kachi in the Back to the Future II storyboards.
2. ETECOONS AND/OR DACHORAS FROM METROID
If someone threw money my way and made me get an Amiibo, I’d probably pick Mega Man…or Metroid star Samus Aran. Metroid was my favorite of Nintendo’s major properties in the NES days, when its stark mazes and plethora of space monsters snagged me just a little tighter than Mario or Zelda. And nothing, from the Captain N version of Mother Brain to the cutscenes in Metroid: Other M, made me give up on Metroid.
But a Samus figure would be too predictable. I’d like another Metroid hero, even if there aren’t many aside from Samus. No one wants Armstrong Houston from Nintendo Power’s Super Metroid comic, for example. So I would turn to the Etecoons and Dachoras. They appear to help Samus in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, and they'd make desktop decor that anyone would find cute.
1. ZAEL AND CALISTA FROM THE LAST STORY
I like The Last Story a good deal. Maybe I shouldn’t. Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi went for clichés at every turn in his Wii RPG (and his last big-budget RPG). Our hero is Zael, a young mercenary who dreams of knighthood. Our heroine is Calista, a count’s niece who has to be rescued more often than any woman should in today’s video games. I dug the game anyway. Maybe it’s the battle system, which folds ideas from action games and cover shooters into an RPG spread. Maybe it’s the exceptionally likeable supporting cast, from the nature-loving mage to the hard-drinking ladies’ man. Maybe it’s just the well-done British voice acting. I’d play through Sword of Sodan and the old PC version of Mega Man if they had affable Brit accompanyment.
Zael and Calista make an appealing couple, both in the game’s traditional fairy-tale pandering (including a take on Dragon Quest’s “Dost Thou Love Me?” vows) and Kimihiko Fujisaka’s original artwork. This makes them too detailed for a mere Amiibo to do justice, but even compromised sculpts would be worth the effort.
Of all the entries here, Zael and Calista stand the best chance of becoming Amiibo. They’re both trophies in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, along with other seldom-venerated characters. Nintendo doesn’t seem to remember The Last Story enough to reissue it, but Sakaguchi’s mobile game Terra Battle kept it alive with a really hard (and temporary) side-quest that lets players recruit Zael and Calista. Nintendo could take a hint from that. And then I’d be standing in line outside Target or weaseling my way into GameStop pre-orders. No rush, Nintendo.