"Smash Bros." is about to get crazier than ever -- if you have a lot of friends.
When "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U" launches on Friday, players will, for the first time in the franchise's 15-year history, be able to participate in chaotic brawls with up to eight people. But outside of college dorms, it might be hard for the average gamer to pull that many friends together -- so Nintendo's got a plan to make going it alone a bit more satisfying.
Launching alongside the game is a line of 12 "Amiibo" figurines -- basically, small action figures based on Nintendo characters like Mario and Pikachu -- that interact with the Wii U system to bring unique characters to the game. Each Amiibo contains a near field communication (NFC) chip that a standard Wii U GamePad is able to scan. You buy a figure for $12.99 and scan it, and then the corresponding character appears in your game.
Adding an Amiibo to "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U." (source)
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Bill Trinen, Nintendo's director of product marketing, stressed that players should feel an "emotional connection" with their Amiibo character.
"In 'Smash Bros.,' the character becomes your sparring partner. You get emotionally invested in how you're training that character and how you're building its abilities," Trinen said.
"Battling against your Amiibo instead of that anonymous [computer-controlled] character adds a lot more meaning to a match," he went on. "It makes 'Smash Bros.' compelling to play as a single player."
In the new "Smash Bros.," your Amiibo character will actually learn how to fight based on "watching" how you play. When you enter a fighting match with the Amiibo, it will develop its abilities based on the actions you take. So, for example, if you use a lot of projectile attacks, the Mario Amiibo might learn how to use its cape to efficiently deflect them. You can also augment the moves your Amiibo uses, making it even more unique.
Then, it can join you in a fight against the computer or other human players.
A human player teams up with their custom Amiibo (labeled "FP") to beat an opponent. (source)
"My initial hope is that people are going to start off with one or two Amiibo in 'Smash Bros.' and very quickly start to see how much fun it brings," Trinen said, "and what it does to create a more compelling experience for a single player who plays alongside his own Amiibo."
Of course, Nintendo wants the Amiibo experience to be a social one. Trinen says he tends to crush his kids when he plays against them, but the Amiibo feature gives them an opportunity to train a character that can best his.
When the Amiibo launch Friday, they'll all work with "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U" -- but certain figures will also have unique bonuses in the already-launched "Mario Kart 8" and "Hyrule Warriors" for the Wii U.
Nintendo's New Nintendo 3DS console, available in Japan and Australia, also has the ability to read Amiibo figurines, but Trinen would not comment on future plans for that system in the United States.