When we sat down with Activision and Nintendo to see a hybrid Skylanders amiibo figure, we didn't know what to expect. But the first thing we wanted to know about the partnership between the two companies that was announced at E3 2015 was how it came about. Before today, you could have seen the two companies as competitors in the toys-to-life video game category.
"Last E3, when Nintendo revealed its plans for amiibo, that's when it intensified and lead to this project," he said.
According to the two executives, the conversation all started because of amiibo. When Nintendo met with Activision in LA a year ago, the company shared its vision for the toys-to-life genre. We all know the pitch: Nintendo wanted figures to play across multiple games and provide its audience with multiple experiences. "It was around that point that Activision shared its vision for what [Skylanders SuperChargers] would become, with the introduction of vehicles, and then the collaboration took off," Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Amie said.
Fils-Amie says the idea to make a Skylander-amiibo hybrid was part of the pitch from the beginning. And, we have to admit the solution is elegant. Hirshberg points out that the clickable-base of the figure, and how it makes a lot of sense for a young audience. Kids don't have to dissemble any parts to switch between the two modes -- small removable parts are a potential nightmare for any parent. A user just has to rotate the base roughly 15 degrees and observe a label underneath the figure that identifies if it's in Skylanders mode or amiibo mode.
Nintendo is famously protective of its character stable. But one look at Vicarious Visions figures, and how faithfully they look and move in game will make you wonder if any concerns during this project were entirely justified. Hammer Slam Bowser's pose and expression look great. He holds a hammer in his left hand, and has the same arrogant pose we expect from Mario's foil. The spikey armor he's wearing is a slight departure from how we've seen him before, but it still suits the character well.
In game, Bowser swings his new weapon and drops Koopa minions. By hoping on their backs, they actually become projectile weapons the same way they would in a Mario game. Once he's stored up enough energy, Bowser can transform into a giant Magma Bowser. He can spit fire and switch up his move set to more flammable set of attacks. Bowser's Clown Cruiser is inspired by the same gyrocopter he rode in Super Mario World. When it becomes SuperCharged, it'll transform into an airship.
Turbo Charge Donkey's Kong and his Barrel Blaster are no slouches either, and his fan service goes to the next level. Once his ride is powered-up, Diddy Kong appears in the barrel-like passenger seat. It's smart fan service that any passionate Nintendo enthusiast can appreciate.
Nintendo's partnership with Activision wasn't expected, but it's a smart move.