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It's no secret to my friends that Nintendo and I have a long standing financial relationship. Since I was merely a tot, I have been almost exclusively buying Nintendo's gaming products and seldom have I ever been disappointed our arrangements. I would hand a retailer some money. They would hand me a product with that little oval logo, and I would return home satisfied with that "New-Game" smell. With our history fresh on the brain, as a consumer, I am beside myself with crippling concern and confusion about my future with Nintendo's products when I stand back and take a good, hard look at the amiibo situation, because let's face it: it's a situation here in America.
When amiibo was first announced, I hung with the crowd and listened as the people I knew and trusted to be Nintendo representatives relay that amiibo were never meant to be collectables. Sure, they would be in limited supply, but you would get the ones you wanted and be happy. And that was exactly what I intended to do. I like to consider myself a smart consumer. From the very start, I knew that ALL of the released amiibo would be an absolute stretch for my wallet; there are a lot of characters that would likely be beyond my interest, and more power to the people that wanted to purchase those figurines. What I did NOT anticipate was that A LOT of the characters I wanted to purchase were going to be out of my price range, and sometimes out of my grasp, hours after being in stores (and in some cases, NOT in stores).
My situation may be slightly unique compared to other Nintendo fans in the market for amiibo. In order for me to reach a retailer that is selling amiibo, I must travel AT LEAST 30 miles. It doesn't seem like much in light of how far these $13.99 toys travel to get to the states, but we are talking about getting up at 6am in order to get to the nearest store that sells them at 8am, only to stand in line with anyone else in the area, to possibly get their hands on one. Even that fact may still sound like a bit of a "how-could-this-happen-to-me" moment, but I also would like to explain with a small story that a lot of other collectors of amiibo can relate to.
With the most recent wave of amiibo being released at Target in the US (on a scattered schedule I might add), I got up super early in order to get to a retailer nearby that would have the one I desired, namely Rosalina & Luma. I also was interested in picking up a Sheik and Toon Link, and maybe even a Bowser since I'm a huge fan of both the Mario and Zelda series. Arriving at the Target, I noticed that a total 0f maybe 10-12 of us had gotten there at opening time to purchase said product. Out of the 10-12 of us, maybe 6 of us got all of the amiibo we wanted, not including me. I did get the Rosalina & Luma that I was searching for, but it was only by SOME MIRACLE that Auburn had one for my friend, as well as the other two that I was hoping to purchase. And I will add that at least three other people walked by while I was in mid-purchase, looking for the same amiibo and had to return completely discouraged as well as empty handed.
Day one. Hour one. I witnessed 7 people, In a potential market of 156,000 in the areas spanning between Nevada County, Auburn, and Roseville able to purchase the full line of amiibo that had been released.
I know I'm not the only one in the world just incensed to see that there is money by the buckets being funneled into 3rd party eBay accounts for these little toys that Nintendo has conjured. And I have only seen it get harder and harder for people interested to get their hands on these things. I can't help but wonder, why?!
Nintendo HAS to have seen by now that there is market for these things in the American economy. While Europe and Japan boast FULL SHELVES of these trinkets, America bears an uncanny resemblance to bread lines of The Great Depression, where you would stand in line for hours for something that you may or may not be able to even see by the time you get halfway through the line. And it's just plain absurd. As someone who knows how to make at least A LITTLE money, If you have a product that someone else can buy, and notice that they are reselling your product successfully for 2x, sometimes 4x as much....why not allow your company to pad you pockets. Not some scapler.
Although it may look like this article was merely a page full of mindless venting, I did also write this article in order to offer a couple of wayward solutions to this amiibo fiasco. And while I am merely a consumer, with no business experience whatsoever, I do think my ideas have some vaidity to them.
A) Simply, Plainly, bring more Amiibo to America
A small gesture such as this would do wonders, Nintendo. You have more than enough sales numbers and physical evidence to state that there is a ROCK SOLID market for these statuets here in the states. And by NOT supplying retailers with what demand requests, you are allowing someone else to make excellent profit on your product. So just put more in circulation here. Trust me. We'll pay it back, tenfold.
B) Make a Direct Option available
I may not be in the electronics industry for a living, but I do sell products to people. And I do know one thing to be a fact,: If the only way to get something is literally from the people who made it to begin with, consumers will still pay; sometimes more, and sometimes a lot more to get what they need. It may not be economically sound for Nintendo as a company to continue to make ALL of the amiibo during the course of the series production, but something as simple as a direct line to Nintendo for purchase during a current wave would go a LONG way for consumers interested in a product. I know of many people that would be excited to pay above standard retail price, directly to Nintendo, if Nintendo was able to ship them a product that retailers in their area were simply out of. Consumers might have to pay a bit extra as well as some shipping in getting them directly from Nintendo, but at least they would be available- something that cannot be said for today's stock of the different amiibo loosely scattered across retailers shelves in a manner befit a small hurricane.
I started buying amiibo with the intent to purchase two and only two: Link and Yoshi. I now own eight. Out of those eight, only one have I had to pay above retail market price, shipping the long lost Wii Fit Trainer from a Japanese outlet. Trust me, I was HAPPY to do so. I'm not excited for the future of amiibo after first hand seeing just how quickly these things disappear. And it's only going to get worse if something is not done about it. So...
I love you, your products, and vast library of games and characters. I am literally a walking pile of your unspent money. Please allow me to give it to you.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with the gaming industry whenever the holiday season rolls around. The world becomes a cluster of angry people shifting about, looking for the best deals on the hottest games of the season. Some of the larger retail chains and third party distributors start rolling out the deals like their inventory was going to turn to mushy bannanas an hour after Christmas day. It's hard to tell if a game that comes out on or near Christmas is going to be good, or if the developer is just squirting it out in order to get profits fueled solely by jingle-bell-fueled-consumer-anticipation.
The WiiU gets played pretty frequently in my household when the holidays come a-knocking. It's a chance for my family to get together and enjoy a pasttime that most of us love. Casually browsing the Nintendo eShop, I noticed that there was one title in particular I had my eye on that had been released Christmas morning; a little known installment to the relatively popular series by WayForward Technologies by the name of Shantae and the Pirates Curse.
I had bought and played a previous installment available on the Nintendo 3DS and had been keeping track of the series since then, and not just because the main character was a curvy, half-genie, half-naked belly dancer. I'm sure most of you recall the composer of the music for a game you may have heard of by the name of Shovel Knight? Well Jake Kaufman, responsible for the glorious music in that epic title was the composer for the wonderful music in Shantae. The original was an impossibly fun platformer with a wide range of interesting and lovable cast, all accompanied by enjoyable chiptune music. So, seeing that a new installment had been released with pretty good reviews, I figured $20 was a pretty good price for something that looked genuinely good, not to mention finished; a somewhat rare quality in games these days.
After only a handful of minutes into the story I was hooked. Seriously. Hooked. It was impossible to put the WiiU tablet down. So now I'm burdened with a serious question: WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS GAME?!
Shantae and the Pirates Curse is one of the best platformers I've played since I got my hands on Shovel Knight earlier this year, and I can personally atest to the gameplay being JUST as rewarding. Playing as Shantae, a half-genie who has recently lost her powers, the player teams up on an exciting adventure with the witty and scantily-clad pirate, Risky Boots to investigate a surge of evil in Sequin Land. Tying in classic platforming gameplay to gorgeously crafted sprites, you easily lose yourself in the sassy world of Shantae, whipping some serious monster butt with the power of a wickedly painful ponytail! Not to mention the abundance of clever and useful power ups you obtain along the way. The movement of the main character cannot be described as anything other the fluid and precise. There's a certain joy to be had by feeling that the character the player controls feels like an extension of his or her own instincts and thoughts; none of the movements or actions feeling misplaced or awkward.
Don't even worry about it. It's just a fire spider. I'm sure it's more scared of you than you are of it.
The stylized touches to this game are absolutely wonderful. As previously mentioned, the sprites and other animations in this world look incredible and provide a creative and immersive environment for the player to dive into. And I would be doing you all a disservice in not mentioning the absolutely INCREDIBLE music that this game boasts. Jake Kaufman does it again by taking a heap of favorite tunes from previous installments and recreating them into even more magnificent works of wonder to compliment the story. It's impossible not to enjoy playing this game when every time you debark onto a new island, you are greeted with a tune that's even better than the last you heard.
Another great feature to this game is the way the dialogue between characters is set up. I'm a huge fan of the dying art that is text only dialogue. While giving your characters a voice can help to connect a player to the characters more, I believe there's a certain amount of free creativity in allowing the player to give each character whatever voice they so desire. Each dialogue box is illustrated by an image, brimming with emotion and personality from the character speaking, adding a sort of comical feel to the mix. While Shantae will speak every now and then, the dialogue is mostly written for the player to read, allowing conversations to feel as fluid as the player wants to read them, at whatever speed the player wants to process them.
Just in case anyone was wondering if there's fan service to be had...
This game caters to SO many player styles. There's the obivious attraction to the players out there that enjoy platforming. But it also should be said that there are rewards to be had in this game for players (like me) who are completionists; personally vowing to obtain everything there is to obtain in a single title, along with those who aspire to complete an adventure in as little time as possible (you know, Speed Runners).
With such versatility, and so much fun for a straight up FRACTION of what a lot of games cost these days, I just do not understand why not very many people are talking about this game. Do yourself a favor. Save up $20. Pick up Shantae and the Pirates Curse. You won't be disappointed.