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Pokémon Following Skylanders Route

PikachuIf any video game franchise out there was primed to become the next Skylanders with a slew of character figurines that use near field communication to enhance a game, it must be Pokémon.  How many Pokémon are there now?  Nearly seven hundred?  That's a lot of potential figurines to sell for $X each or four for $4X-Y in a starter pack.  Now Nintendo is embracing those sweet NFC toy dollars with the upcoming Pokemon Scramble U for the Wii U.  Little figurines of Pikachu and friends will run you $2 each or just under $15 for the entire set.  Kotaku has the news.

Starting April 24, the figures go on sale at Pokémon Center retailers across Japan. While the downloadable game is priced at ¥1,800 (US$18.70), the figures are ¥200 ($2.08) each. There are six different types, plus what sounds like one special type. That brings the total cost of all the figurines to ¥1,400 ($14.55).

Besides Pikachu, it's unclear which Pokémon will get NFC figurines. You will be able to scan them into the Wii GamePad and use them in game. Players can "raise", rear their NFC Pocket Monster, saving the Pokémon's progress.

From a Pokémon point of view, this is free instant money for Nintendo and its partners.  From a Wii U perspective, I'm not so sure that a $20 eShop game is going to move consoles, but stranger things have happened.  Scramble's potential success is limited by the Wii U's install base and I wonder if Nintendo will sell more figurines just based on the Pokémon brand rather than players' intent to actually use their purchases with the game.  Pokémon fans who play Scramble will certainly use the figurines with the game, but surely there's an audience out there for people who aren't interested in buying a Wii U, but do think that having this particular plastic Pikachu on their desk would be neat.  No news on an international release yet, but Nintendo isn't one to want to leave money on the table.

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