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Nintendo launching 'amiibo' toy-game franchise with 12 characters, including Mario and Link

Pikachu and Link will be among the first characters coming to "amiibo."

Nintendo says 12 characters will be part of its upcoming toy-game line set for release later this year. The initial line-up will include Mario, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, Kirby, Marth, Fox McCloud, the "Wii Fit" Trainer and the Villager from "Animal Crossing."

The figures in the "amiibo" toy-game line will each cost $12.99 and work in tandem with such upcoming titles as "Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker" and "Super Smash Bros."

The characters' virtual histories will be stored on the plastic figures and transmitted through the touchscreen controller for the Wii U console, similar to "Skylanders" and "Disney Infinity."

Nintendo is hoping the new toy-game line will help boost sales of its beleaguered Wii U console.