Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ghost's Arcade: Amiibo Stupidity

First off, some preliminary stuff.

I have changed the name of my video game segment from Ghost's Angry Reviews to Ghost's Arcade.  I was in a different place in life when I first started writing reviews and tended to gain influence from and focus on the more negative comments from reviewers such as Nostalgia Critic, Angry Joe, Blockbuster Buster, and Todd in the Shadows.  I wanted to make fun of stuff and generally have my Ghost character go overboard about tiny little things because I thought it could be funny... completely missing the point of why those reviewers would go into negativity.

Now that I'm a couple years older I've mellowed out some and so has my Ghost character.  Sure there will probably be some things that make "him" angry but there's far less anger and far more thought put into these and the old title just didn't fit anymore.  Instead it shall now be called "Ghost's Arcade" and it will be not only game reviews but game discussions etc.  Same concept of what I've been doing for this past year with video games just a new title that leaves the negative connotations in the past.

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It's ironic that I decided to change the name of this segment of my blog then my first post be written while I'm INCREDIBLY PISSED OFF... c'est la vie!

Oh how I've grown to hate you... and it doesn't need to be this way

Ghost here, thanks for joining...though by the time I'm done with this one you may or may not be glad that you did

First thing's first.  When I started this blog I made a conscious effort to avoid using curse words as much as humanly possible and I feel as though I have achieved this.  There are many reasons for this decision.  I feel as though it's my duty to maintain a sense of professionalism even though I'm talking about something that many people could see as silly.  I take gaming movies and food seriously and my language should match that.  Also, several people who I regularly associate with do not approve of such language and I do not wish to alienate them from reading anything I have written due to the content.  Lastly, I feel as though cursing with consistency takes away from the meaning of the word.  In my opinion, every word has a valid meaning and use which includes cursing however cursing loses its power by being overused there's no reason to use a curse word unless you need that added push to show how utterly ridiculous something is.... and this right here is the perfect time to use it cause this is some bullshit.  If you are someone who doesn't appreciate cursing... I'm sorry.  I'll go back to my regular plan of not doing so in the future but for this one I want the impact but I'm not gonna go overboard or anything.

Second of all I would like to point out that I do love Nintendo.  Nintendo has always been what I gravitate to.  I don't know if it's the bright colors, the lineage of gameplay, the innovations they attempt with occasionally laughable results, or that they're just that plain good.  They've been getting a lot better as of late.  Even though the WiiU has only a few titles that I honestly care about they are titles that I REALLY care about and are invested in playing or purchasing.  I've always been a Nintendo fanboy and I always shall be.

 That being said... Nintendo....

The way you release and handle your amiibo sales is an absolute atrocity.  Saying that you "screwed it up" isn't even a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean that is how badly you have performed in this regard.  This isn't just dropping the ball because anyone can drop the ball; dropping the ball isn't that big of a deal.  This is a screw up to such an extreme that I thought this level of dumbassery was exclusive to government officials.  Apparently I am wrong in this regard.

What Are Amiibo and What Do They Do?

In case you are lucky enough to not be in the middle of this debacle, you don't own a Nintendo system, or don't have/know a child who does then you may be asking yourself exactly what is an amiibo?  Well to understand that you have to start with the granddaddy of the amiibo, Skylanders. 

Skylanders:Spyro's Adventure was the first in a line of Skylanders game and was released in October of 2011 for multiple platforms.  It was a very unique entity in the gaming world as it paired virtual gaming with actual toys by means of a "portal."  Basically your characters in the game were actual figurines that you could scan into the game and use.  If you didn't have the figurine then you didn't have that character.  Yes it could be seen as a cash cow there to have you spend more money than necessary but it was honestly done the right way.  Yeah you had to buy the game and then buy additional characters for the game but that's what a lot of DLC is doing now days anyway.  Rather than have these characters just be in the game, though, they were this toy figurine that you could display or play with while you weren't playing the game.  It gave you a real sense that this figurine was important and personal. This wasn't just a Stealth Elf figurine...this was YOUR Stealth Elf; your friend to help you in your adventures.

Of course Disney followed up a couple years later with their Disney Infinity games which had the exact same concept.  Since both Skylanders and Disney Infinity had sold very well, it was only a matter of time for Nintendo to come out with their own versions and before long they announced Amiibo.  I won't lie, I initially thought this was going to be a cheap ridiculous cash grab to go along with a fad that was not going to be well thought out and worthless.  I was fairly surprised though at how much thought was put in to them.... their distribution however I was right on the money but we'll get to that later. 

Nintendo's amiibo set were going to do tons of things like giving you additional power-ups, costumes, and character assistance in multiple games across both the WiiU and 3DS platform.  They would eventually give you demos of some of the best games that Nintendo has produced and best of all they can be a fighter in Super Smash Bros for 3DS and WiiU.  I bought myself a Bowser amiibo to try him out and honestly it was a blast.  You get to nickname your amiibo and in Smash Bros you can train him up to be a tough fighting machine who learns from your play-style and the play-style of others.  I'm glad I was able to get one and I honestly feel that they hit home with what Skylanders was doing...especially from a Smash Bros standpoint.  I really feel like my Kaiju (what I nicknamed my Bowser) is "part of the team" as I trained him and sent him to battle countless CPUs to bring me some coins trophies and custom pieces in Smash Bros.  It's really fantastic and since I got Bowser, I really wanted to get King Dedede, Lucina, and Mewtwo at minimum..... and that's when my love turned into hatred.

A Personal Account from KoD/Dimentio

Before I get into the problem however, I would like to hand the blog over to my friend and regular contributor, KoD.  This way it's not just me being angry I have at least one other opinion on the table; the opinion of someone who is collecting all of the amiibo.

Hey thanks for inviting me, Ghost.  So I see it’s rant time about the amiibos huh? Let me tell you about my experience with the amiibos.  At first it wasn’t so bad trying to get all the Smash Bros series amiibos I wanted. The amiibos are generally released in waves and I simply had to put a preorder in for the whole wave and in due time I picked them up at my local Gamestop.  I was able to do this up to Wave 2 I believe, but after that wave something happened that forever changed the simplicity of getting Amiibos. As the amiibos got more popular consumers were divided into three groups.  First there were people who were collecting them and wanted to get them all like myself.  Secondly there were the people who just want to buy their favorites for themselves, their friends, or family such as you, Ghost.  And thirdly are the people who buy them in mass trying to make a big profit off them when nobody can find certain amiibos anywhere else. 

Due to these third people in particular, people end up buying amiibos at unreasonable prices thinking if they don’t buy them at this price they’ll never get another chance.  This whole amiibo system has gotten completely out of hand to say the very least.  Now, there’s almost little to no chance you’ll find the amiibo you want especially if they are part of a wave.  The best thing you can do is preorder but sometimes that’s not even guaranteed.  People are having to resort to stalking stores or sites like InStockNow.com to see which of their local stores may carry what they’re looking for.  Unless you have a preorder or some other alternative method to get new amiibos like importing from a foreign country, you can pretty much rest assure you won’t get one.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m spent gas scouting out all my local store for amiibos or trying to preorder them just in the end to be told they don’t have any or I can’t preorder.  Now I have my own methods to getting all the amiibos but this is beyond ridiculous.  What’s the point of having figures that unlock bonus content in your game if it’s next to impossible to get any for yourself?  Now granted it’s not really that Nintendo is the problem by not supplying enough for everyone, it’s purely that the demand for it is so high, most likely because of the hoarders who sell them that Nintendo struggles to make enough.

The Problem

I disagree with KoD's last sentence.  Yes the resellers are a massive problem but they wouldn't need to be a problem if Nintendo had made more of these.  Heck, even a simple statement of  "Yes we only made a certain amount but we will be making more" would be sufficient enough to stop this lunacy, but I don't see that happening or being made public if it is.  The problem is that Nintendo flat isn't making enough of these to fill the demand for them.  People want these but yet we are constantly being stopped by the fact that no one has them.  It absolutely shouldn't be this way and for a large company like Nintendo to allow this to happen is unacceptable.  

Think of it this way.  When was the last time you had to pre-order a video game not because of pre-order bonuses but out of legitimate fear/concern that you wouldn't actually get your hands on a copy the day of its release?
I honestly can't think of a single time in the last fifteen years that I've pre-ordered a game because I wasn't sure I'd get one on the day of release.  I live in a smaller city... it's not B.F.E small but it's not a very large one either... with two Walmarts, a Target, a Best Buy, a local game store, and 3 Gamestops I'm never in the position to HAVE to pre-order any game because there will obviously be enough to go around.  Clearly the video game industry has a firm grasp on how many copies of a game they need to produce.  You would think this would extend to other aspects such as the amiibo but apparently not.  Now I could FULLY understand if this was a First Wave issue of not having enough.  This was a gamble that could have been a complete bust so they threw their big names in the first wave like Pikachu, Mario, Link etc.  If they had only produced a small number and these were harder to find that wouldn't be a bad thing.  They could have just made more for the next waves since they knew they had sold.   But as KoD above attested to. it's only gotten worse.  It's as if they made this small number thinking they wouldn't sell then went  "Oh well these sold... let's make the SAME amount for all the rest to keep things even."   I have no idea what they're thinking producing so few when so many want them.

So with there being so few of them you should just pre-order right?  The purpose of pre-ordering is to make sure you get a copy of it so that should be a good avenue right?
Yeah that's not a plan.  Pre-ordering amiibo is the same as just telling the store clerk you'd be interested in buy one then walking out the door because simply pre-ordering it does not mean in any respect that you're actually going to get it.  Normally one would think pre-order = reserving a copy but since wave 3 retailers have been pushing back release dates to fit Nintendo's schedule, cancelling pre-orders all together, or accidentally dropping pre-orders when they are trying to accommodate with changes.  OOPS!  To make matters worse retailers never announce when you can start pre-ordering you just sort of have to keep calling them and hoping someone has some information they can share with you because if you don't have an in with the retailer or a really friendly employee there the pre-order date can come without you knowing it...which is bad because pre-orders can be sold out within two hours of being available.

Want to hear something even better?  These DUMBASSES decided to make several of the amiibos store exclusives.  YUP that's right.  Not only can you not find them, and pre-ordering is iffy at best but you have to make trips to different stores to try to find or attempt to pre-order the amiibo you want.  With pre-orders selling out and only a small handful of stock on the shelves if there are exclusives somewhere other than the store you have chosen... you basically are guaranteed to not get that one. We're not talking one or two exclusives here; there are at least 4 exclusives if not more at completely different retailers. Hell, one example that's particularly horrible for me is the Greninja amiibo.  Greninja was a ToysRUs exclusive....THERE ISN'T A TOYSRUS WHERE I LIVE.  If I wanted to purchase him (which I don't but that's beside the point) I'd have to travel at least 30 minutes to another town to get him.

In short you only have a few options to getting amiibo
  1. Camp out at your local retailer and hope for the best only to be disappointed
  2. Pray that you can pre-order and continue praying that they don't cancel your preorder  
  3. Pay a hoarder 2-15 times the purchase price.
  4. Import from Japan which will take a long time to reach your doorstep and may involve you putting credit card information into questionable websites
  5. Know someone who knows someone who can get you the goods like going through a drug deal
  6. Deal with the fact that you're just not going to be able to get it and spend your money on something else
And that's NOT the way this should be handled.  This bullshit is absolutely unacceptable.  It's so bad that retailers are having to take measures to help people get some because Nintendo has screwed it up so badly.  ToysRUs has enforced a 1 per style per customer rule.  Amazon is only releasing their amiibo for sale at a random interval of a 30 minute segment of time per amiibo trying to give people a fair chance to actually get their hands on one.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE.  All it would take is for Nintendo to just make more... or even come out and say that they plan on making more of all of them in the future and to just hold tight.  That's all it would take.

Why am I so passionately angry about this?

My Personal Story
After I got my Bowser amiibo I really enjoyed him and wanted my two mains King Dedede and Lucina as well as my old friend Mewtwo.  I... have a bad tendency to pick mains in smash that don't make it to the next game...or when they do they come back as a horrible piece of trash.  Mewtwo and Roy were my Melee Mains, Wolf was my Brawl Main, and Lucina is one of my WiiU Mains.  King Dedede was in Wave 3 and one of the harder to acquire when I decided I wanted him.  Since he's about guaranteed to be in the next Smash game I decided he wasn't a big deal.   Even Mewtwo won't be that big of a deal because although I waited for his return when he came back he wasn't the same so I don't really care for him anymore.   Lucina though... Lucina is different.  Lucina was one of the main characters of my favorite (and in my opinion the only really good) Fire Emblem games.  She also is a clone. With her being a clone of Marth and the next Fire Emblem game not involving her it's very unlikely for her to return to smash like the rest of my usual picks...so I wanted her amiibo the most as a memento of an awesome character who probably won't be around long.   Ultimately if I only ended up with Bowser and Lucina I would be happy.

Unfortunately the imbeciles at Nintendo are actively trying to ruin people's chances of happiness.  In their April 1st Nintendo Direct it was announced that the next wave of amiibo were going to "soon" be available for pre-order and it included Lucina.  They gave no dates at all for the pre-order.  The next day, I called Gamestop to see if they knew when pre-orders were going to be open.  I was told that pre-orders started that day but both Lucina and Robin were completely sold out within two hours of all three stores being open.  There went my big shot at getting her because I knew she would be difficult.   I came home and complained to KoD about this nonsense and he said he had a way to get her and if I sent him the money and did a review of Banjo-Kazooie he would get his amiibo person to nab me one for my trouble.  I was overjoyed and began playing Banjo-Kazooie that evening and sent him the money later in the month.  With my parts done I eagerly awaited release date of Lucina so he could send me the one and only one I REALLY wanted. 

Two days before the release date KoD's amiibo person said that all was in check for his amiibo desires except for Robin who was cancelled for some reason.  However she didn't mention anything about Lucina at all.  Somehow she had gotten left off.  KoD went to the store and the person in front of him bought the only Lucina they had...and his amiibo person was only able to secure one Lucina which KoD kept for himself as he's collecting all of them.  Which.. I can't really blame him...though I could argue that since I did the review, gave him money, and he's the one with the connections to getting amiibo that I don't have, he should have given me that one and found a second for himself but I'm not going to be a dick about it to a good buddy.  It sucks big time to have hope, have that hope be destroyed, have it given back to you only to have it destroyed a second time.   It's like wanting one small thing for Christmas and being told that your family can't afford Christmas this year.  So you wake up to find a present for you under the tree only for it to contain a piece of paper that says "I Hate You" on it. 

So here I sit having done my part and paid my money but with absolutely nothing to show for it but an ever present angry attitude.  My last hope was Amazon who was allowing the sale of Lucina amiibo at a random point during the 6:30 - 7:00 PM window of release day.   Below you can see the EXACT wording

Since I'd been hurt twice I kept my expectations incredibly low but couldn't help shake that hopeful feeling...


"We'd like to ensure that as many customers as possible have the opportunity to get the new figures" MY FAT ACHING ASS.   As if to top of my horrible day with the perfect cake topper of horribleness, KoD and I spent the entirety of the 30 minutes for the Lucina window refreshing the page every 5 to 10 seconds and NOT ONCE was she available to purchase.  Amazon bold faced lied to us that she would be available to purchase at some point during that 30 minutes in one of the most egregious moves I've ever seen that I honestly feel is false advertisement though I'm sure there's some legal loophole mumbo jumbo that makes it not truly "false" advertisement but you get the point.   So once again I sit here having paid my dues and paid money with NO Lucina Amiibo...and I'll probably never end up getting one thanks to this bullshit.

So Nintendo and Amazon... I give both of you the proper salute you deserve based on the actions I've witnessed first hand over the last day and few months.
Screw the both of you and your damn amiibo!

There's not much of a conclusion here... the picture above pretty much says it all.  How Nintendo has handled these amiibo is absolute horse shit.  It has left me with a very sour taste in my mouth for the company as a whole to the point that I'm questioning my enjoyment of Nintendo products.  If they can mess up something this good so easily who's to say they won't start doing that with other products as well?  They need to get their act together or get out of the amiibo business immediately because this is completely unacceptable.  And let's not forget Amazon who I'm also second guessing doing business with any further thanks to their deplorable actions with the sale of Lucina amiibos.  I've never had much of a problem with Amazon before this and couldn't have collected all of Doctor Who without them but this was handled bad enough to hurt my viewpoint of them.  How can large companies like this get away with such shenanigans?  I don't know but it NEEDS to stop.

This is Ghost, fading into the darkness.
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If you want to check out what KoD is doing you can check out his Tumblr or Youtube Page.

If you want to see my other Video Game discussions and reviews, click here!


 So... only one day after I wrote this blog post I happened to find my Lucina.  I just happened to be running by a G2K Store in Abingdon, Virginia.  For those of you who don't know, G2K is a semi-local only game store which specializes in mostly used games both current gen and ancient.  I have never before found anything I wish to buy at that store but went in because the general populous of Abingdon is very different than that of my town so I thought there might be some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies there used.  They did not so I decided to just take some extra time looking around at everything and once I got to their amiibo selection... there she was front and center.  The ONLY one they had left.  Needless to say I internally flipped out (only internally due to children being present in the store) and ran over to the clerk to purchase her instantly.   This was a stroke of pure luck or divine intervention one.

Now I realize that being able to find an amiibo one day after ranting and saying I would never get her may lessen the impact of the post above but I would like to point out 2 things.  1. This was a once in a lifetime sort of event.  Lucina was in such demand and in so few quantity that people are on average asking $49.99 for her.  For this to have still been on the shelf  through a weekend and on into the middle of the next week after released is unheard of.  2. It shouldn't be this way.  It shouldn't be this ultimately lucky find for me to be able to get her.  I should have just been able to go the day of sale or sometime that weekend and find plenty of Lucina on the shelf to purchase but that's simply not the case.  

I'm still upset by how Nintendo is handling these amiibo and I'm still upset with the Amazon debacle of selling them but since my one and only "must have" has now been obtained you won't hear anything else from me on this topic unless something makes matters frustratingly worse.

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