Nintendo's Mario-themed level editor, Super Mario Maker, is bringing amiibo into the fold in simple, yet pretty adorable way. When you tap in a figure, you'll be able to play as that character in certain levels — with a few exceptions and rules, of course.
To understand how this all works, we first need to talk about power-ups in the Mario universe. Super Mario 3, for example, has the super leaf, which turns you into a flying raccoon, while New Super Mario Bros. U has the propeller mushroom. Super Mario Maker — which incorporates themes from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U — allows you to craft your own levels using special power-ups from each of these games.
Amiibo will come into play specifically for the 8-bit theme of Super Mario Bros., which uses the mystery mushroom power-up. By placing a mystery mushroom in a level and tinkering with its settings, you can turn Mario into a variety of different things, from a goomba to a question block. That holds true for amiibo, too. During a hands-on demo, Mario transformed into 8-bit versions of Kirby and the Wii Fit Trainer with the use of their individual figures.
Sadly this transformation doesn't mean you can use their special abilities — I couldn't fly as Kirby, for example — but it does add special sound effects for the character. It's a pretty straightforward swap, but there's something undeniably charming about leaping over parades of koopas while Wii Fit Trainer helpfully yells, "Up! Up! Up!"
A Nintendo rep called the 8-bit gag "one of the ways" amiibo will work in the game, so it's possible there's still more to come.