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Ever since Nintendo announced that they would be releasing figures that interact with their games, I’ve been thinking about how exactly they’ll work. So naturally that’s where the idea of this blog came from, the potential of the NFP and what exactly they’ll do. We know that they can interact with multiple games, one of which has been confirmed to be Super Smash Bros for the Wii U. We also know that they’ll be their own ‘platform’, which would imply there is something about them not connected to other Nintendo games, the exact mechanics of it seem to involve raising/training your own Nintendo character.
(I doubt the NFP figures will come to life like in Smash Bros. Whether or not that's a good thing is up for debate)
First, let’s talk about the topical part of this blog, Super Smash Bros. I highly doubt it will be like Skylanders like everyone is fearing, the 3DS version comes out before NFP support for the 3DS for starters. One possibility is that the NFP will be used for custom move sets, which like the NFP, we only know a couple of vague details about. It could be that using a characters NFP figure opens up several options for customization in addition to the ones everyone has. That also provides another reason why Sakurai said custom move sets can’t be used online in random battles, so people with the NFP figures don’t get an advantage. They could also unlock an alternate costume for the character, like Fox’s NFP figure giving you the ability to use his Assault design.
Super Smash Bros and the NFP actually share one thing in common, both feature lots of Nintendo characters. We don’t know which characters are getting NFP figures at what point, but the investor meeting that revealed them stated they were going to take advantage of their character ip, which is something that Super Smash Bros already does. Think about, if you ever need to explain Fire Emblem, Earthbound, or F-Zero to someone, you’d probably mention their representative in Super Smash Bros. If it weren’t for Super Smash Bros, I wouldn’t care about Falco, but because of Smash Bros, he’s my favorite Star Fox character. That’s the power of Super Smash Bros, and that’s the power the NFP will be trying to invoke. So it makes perfect sense that the first game the NFP are announced to be compatible with is Super Smash Bros. Who knows, they could even be designed like the trophies in Super Smash Bros.
However, though the NFP have a strong link to Super Smash Bros, they’re not just an accessory to it. Who says Mario Kart 8 can’t be patched to include NFP functionality, or that Hyrule Warriors won’t also be revealed to have NFP functionality at E3. There’s the fact that it’s been described as its own platform, which means there will be something featuring the figures you don’t need other Nintendo games for. Whatever it is, it’ll involve some kind of customization. The investors meeting stated the NFP figures can both write and read data in the games, which would imply both act as unlock keys for the other. What exactly the NFP figures would take from the games is unknown. Most likely something related to it to use in an NFP unique game, but we know nothing about that.
The NFP could also make a large impact on Nintendo’s game development. Let’s go back to Super Smash Bros for another second, name the last time R.O.B has appeared in his own game. How about the Ice Climbers. Let’s assume both make it into Super Smash Bros 4, obviously Nintendo would make NFP figures of them. Now consider this, why should you buy the NFP figures of R.O.B and Ice Climbers when Mario, Luigi, Link, Peach, and Pikachu have figures that will be used in many games, not just Super Smash Bros. Poor R.O.B and Ice Climbers, if only they had a new game, then maybe people would buy their figures. You don’t need psychic powers to guess where this is going, Nintendo makes new games starring R.O.B and the Ice Climbers to create more of a demand for their figures. The NFP could make stuff like Kid Icarus’s revival via Super Smash Bros a common thing to see on the Wii U and 3DS.
It’s clear that the NFP will have to take advantage of how fans support their favorite characters in order to achieve the best possible outcome for Nintendo. Falco is one of my favorite Star Fox and Super Smash Bros, if Nintendo wants to sell me on his NFP figure, they’ll have to put in content related to him. I get to support my favorite character directly, meaning he will get better treatment by Nintendo (Wolverine, Castiel, and Coulson are all big examples of the power of fan support). However, there is a darker flip side to this. What about the characters who don’t have Super Smash Bros publicity to get the ball rolling, what about Sin and Punishment, Eternal Darkness, Sakura Samurai, Star Tropics, and all those other Nintendo games that don’t have a fighter to represent their series in Super Smash Bros. NFP support for unpopular franchises with no Smash Bros representatives would be hard to start. Why make Sin and Punishment 3 when the NFP figures have created a bigger need for a game featuring R.O.B.
The NFP could go both ways. It could keep Mario and friends firmly on top of the Nintendo totem pole with even less of a chance of other franchises seeing the light of day, or it could shake it up and give some characters greater importance. And they’re arguably not mutually exclusive, as I explained in the previous paragraph. Right now the NFP is just one giant question mark in any prediction of Nintendo’s future, you can most likely expect a post E3 follow up blog on what I’ve gotten right and wrong, and other NFP information. Hopefully this blog has given you something to think about and can lead to further discussion.