Barring Smash, Code Name: STEAM gets the best Amiibo support so far

Outside of Super Smash Bros, the physical incarnations of Mario, Pikachu and other Nintendo icons don't have much to do on their plastic pedestals. While they transform into teachable, collectible opponents in Nintendo's flagship brawler, tapping an Amiibo toy into Mario Kart 8 or Hyrule Warriors is a one-step process to unlock a minor in-game item.

Nintendo has created a more substantial cameo – bordering on reverent – for the Amiibo line in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M, the oddball 3DS strategy game from developer Intelligent Systems. If you happen to own a Fire Emblem Amiibo and tap it in, warriors Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina are summoned into Code Name's steam-powered war against aliens. They each have unique attacks, animations and can be an integral part of your strategy.

Now, for the bad news:

1) Nintendo hasn't specified a release date for the entire Fire Emblem Amiibo cast, and we know that Marth is among the figures that became extra-elusive after initial sales. There's time, though, with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. not due to launch until March 13.

2) You'll need a New 3DS to tap an Amiibo figure in. Nintendo hasn't announced a release date or price for Amiibo-reading adapters for the older 3DS models.

3) They're Fire Emblem characters, so there's a touch of death to be concerned about. Unlike the primary heroes in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., the folks from Fire Emblem can not be revived in the middle of a mission, should they perish at the feet of a nasty alien. You can tap them in again once you're out of battle, but that's as much maneuvering room as you get. It's a nice nod to the franchise's history and staunch challenge, and isn't quite as expensive as having Amiibo figures burst into the flames of perma-death.