by Doc, Owner, Founder, Author of “There’s No 12-Step Program for Amiibo Addiction“
Amiibo cards are very simple once you understand how they work on a technical level. Let me explain the technical aspects of amiibo, and then we’ll move up to the more relevant and useful information.
Please note that any product links in this article are Amazon Affiliate links, and that Amiibo Doctor thanks you for your support in keeping amiibo alive!
Nintendo amiibo cards vs. Fanmade amiibo cards
Nintendo originally only made amiibo figures – these are the things you probably think about when you think of amiibo. This is a typical amiibo figure:
See the black base at the bottom? In every single amiibo base, there’s a thing called an NTAG215 chip. This chip is what actually interacts with the game and stores the amiibo’s file, and wouldn’t you know it, amiibo cards use NTAG215 chips too. Nintendo-made amiibo cards are simply pieces of cardstock that have NTAG215 chips inserted inside them. They made amiibo cards for Animal Crossing, Mario Sports, Pokken, and a few other games.
Fan-made amiibo cards are a different story. Fans figured out all of the above information and realized that, since Nintendo was undersupplying specific amiibo figures, they could make their own NTAG215 chips and put them in cardstock, and sell them for significantly cheaper. Unlike Nintendo, Fan-made amiibo cards exist for every single amiibo that’s ever existed: if you want Mario, Qbby, Raymond and Super Mario Cereal, you can get it from a seller.
Nintendo amiibo cards are usually undersupplied, but you can find Fan-made amiibo cards aplenty on Amazon.
So what are amiibo coins?
Good question! They’re just NTAG215 chips that are put into a different storage container. NTAG215 chips are adhesive, so you can put them into just about anything. I once turned several regular products into functioning amiibo using NTAG215 chips. Functionally, there’s absolutely no difference between amiibo cards and coins, or keychains, or any other form they come in.
What’s an amiibo “bin file”?
I mentioned earlier that the NTAG215 chips stores the amiibo’s file – those files are called “.bin files“. They’re called .bin files because, to put it simply, amiibo files are stored in .bin format. They’re encrypted, but apps like Tagmo can make use of handmade de-encryption tools to make them writeable to the chip.
Getting amiibo bin files is pretty difficult right now due to the shutdown of NFC Bank, so I’ve made a tracker here. If there’s no files that I know of, then the page won’t have a link to anything. If you want files from a specific game, just search “where to find” in the search bar of this website, and it’ll show you the listings of the games!
How do you make amiibo cards?
Amiibo cards are ridiculously simple, and only need a few things:
-Whatever decoration you choose to put on it
If you are missing one or more of these items, click their respective link and take the necessary steps to complete that task or purchase. By the end of this you should have Tagmo functioning properly with the two keys correctly added on, a set of NTAG215 chips (it doesn’t work with anything else), and bin files that you obtained of your own accord. If you don’t understand what bin files are, don’t worry – they’re just the base files of specific amiibo that you’ll put on a chip. Mario has a unique one, Link has a unique one, etc.
Actually making them
It’s very simple. Activate NFC on your phone. Make sure you have the unfixed-info and locked-secret bins already loaded in (reference the guide above for help). Open Tagmo, and press “Load Tag”. Search through your phone’s file system to bring up the bin file for the amiibo you want, and select it. You should see its image show up on the main screen (unless it’s pretty new).
Click “Write Tag”, and hold up a blank NTAG215 chip to the NFC point on your phone. Hold it for a moment, and it should write to the tag. Congratulations, you made an amiibo. There’s a few things you should know about amiibo chips before you make them into cards.
- They will forever be that character now. A Mario amiibo is always and forever a Mario amiibo, and once it’s written it can never be changed. The only exception is the Powersaves for Amiibo Powertag, which isn’t technically an NTAG215.
- You absolutely cannot bend them or freeze them – that’ll break them. These things are moderately fragile, so don’t do stupid things with them.
Is it Legal to Make Amiibo Cards?
Try as I might, I can’t find a definitive answer to this question. This field of law is relatively new and hasn’t yet been applied to a combination physical product + encrypted information type of good. The best thing I could come up with was a precedent that suggested that the encryption was what was actually owned by Nintendo, not the file itself… which doesn’t make much sense to me as a layman.
Which Amiibo Cards Should I Buy?
I see it as an economic question – if you want X amiibo’s functionality and the Y amiibo’s functionality, but the X amiibo costs $80 and the Y amiibo costs $30, you’re better off getting the amiibo card for X and saving your money for the Y figure. That way, you only pay $30 + the cost of a card versus $80 + the cost of a card.
I’ve made a tier list based on the secondhand prices of amiibo – the higher they are on that tier list, the better a decision it is to buy the card for that amiibo instead of buying the figure.