by Doc – Owner, Founder, Man Who Is Secretly an amiibo and Hasn’t Had the Guts to Tell Anyone
Since the NFC Bank shutdown, amiibo bin files have suddenly become a concern of the amiibo scene. I’ve been doing my best to help people find them (links below), but I can’t keep up with the questions about them. This post will answer your questions about amiibo bin files.
If you benefit from this information and plan to use amiibo bin files, go check out some NTAG chips to make your own amiibo! We are supported by Amazon Affiliate links.
What’s an amiibo bin file?
An amiibo bin file is basically the ROM image of an amiibo. Much in the same way that ROMs are used in emulators and flash cartridges, amiibo bin files are used to emulate amiibo. Think of it this way:
- ROM files are amiibo bin files
- Flash cartridges are Powersaves for amiibo – they hold the bin file for use and can be rewritten
- Reproduction cartridges are NTAG215 chips – they hold the bin file for use but can’t be rewritten
The only difference between ROMs and amiibo in practice is that you’re not emulating an amiibo through software – you’re actually tricking the Switch with real, legitimate amiibo hardware into thinking that an amiibo has been scanned in. On the console side of things, the Switch doesn’t know the difference – which is why you can’t get banned for using fake amiibo.
How do I use amiibo bin files?
Amiibo bin files are used in a lot of different ways. They can be used to:
- Create NTAG215 chips and amiibo cards, which function identically to normal amiibo
- Load into Powersaves for Amiibo for use on a Powertag
- Be loaded into emulators so the emulated game believes it’s had an amiibo scanned in
Most people just use amiibo bin files to make amiibo cards, and often sell them online for a minor profit. I estimate that in a given year tens of thousands of fanmade amiibo cards are sold through Etsy alone, and many more through eBay. If you’re only wanting to emulate a few amiibo, then just buy the cards through online sellers.
What are the Locked-Secret and Unfixed-Info bin files?
These two files are the tools to decrypting the amiibo. When combined, they activate a program that decrypts your amiibo – separately, they can’t do anything. You need these for use in Tagmo.
There’s a similar file called Key-Retail that some of the newer amiibo technology uses. Key-Retail is, as best as I understand, the combined version of Locked-Secret and Unfixed-Info. The legality of this file is unclear to me – if I understand encryption law correctly, sharing the “full” version of an encryption algorithm that is patented is a violation of U.S. law. From what I was told a few years ago, the files have to be combined because they’re two halves of the encryption file – and technically don’t violate the law. I am unqualified to opine on this myself.
How can I make my own amiibo with amiibo bin files?
So it largely depends on what console you’re doing it on, but you’re probably wanting to make independent amiibo to use on your Switch, so we’ve got a comparison post here for you to use. You’ll want to read through the options and select the one that’s applicable to your platform – for example, a 3DS could use fanmade amiibo cards, but may also use Wumiibo if need be.
I’ve created a chart that tells you what software to use based on your convenient platforms. I recommend Powersaves for amiibo above everything else if you have a PC, but Powersaves does cost money.
If it’s too technical, that’s okay – there’s a lot of sellers on Etsy who make amiibo cards and sell them for pretty cheap. The highest-quality cards shouldn’t run you more than $2 before tax and shipping, and the cheapest cards run about $0.50.
Where can I find amiibo bin files?
Unfortunately, the biggest host for amiibo bin files is now down. NFC Bank died due to unknown circumstances. I’ve set up tracking pages at the below so that I can easily link people to hosts when I find them.
Can I use amiibo bin files with chips besides NTAG215 chips?
Well, technically yes, but only if you have a Powersaves for Amiibo. Powersaves for Amiibo emulates an NTAG215 chip using the Powertag, so… it’s basically still a no. That’s okay – NTAG215 chips are cheap and easy to come by, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.
Does Nintendo take issue with amiibo bin files and amiibo card sellers?
Obviously if you approached one of Nintendo’s legal teams and asked them this question, they’d sternly tell you it’s a violation of a law somewhere (whether that’s actually been determined by the courts or not). As to the companies’ actual opinions, it’s hard to say – Nintendo has been relatively generous with its IP over the years, only shutting down fan games when they could potentially eat into Nintendo’s own game sales. They’ve taken legal action against ROM sites in the past as well, but to my knowledge there’s only one instance where Nintendo has ever gone after someone who used amiibo bin files.
Several years ago in Taiwan, someone was manufacturing immaculate amiibo cards for games like Smash 4 and Animal Crossing. These were the highest-quality amiibo cards that I’d ever seen, with superior quality to even the most expensive Etsy cards. There was no doubt that someone in the market for amiibo would see these and believe they’re the real thing – the art itself comes straight from Smash 4.
This individual was reportedly selling the cards by the thousands, and claimed to have bought them from China. It’s pretty clear that this is no ordinary amiibo card seller, so it’s difficult to predict what Nintendo’s actions against amiibo card sellers would be in the West. After all, companies like Codejunkies have been selling alternatives to amiibo for over five years now with nary an interruption.
For now, I’d suggest not worrying about it. Nintendo could always change their mind, but they don’t seem to be taking action against fake amiibo at the moment.
How do I make backups of my own amiibo?
That depends on your hardware. I’ve created this convenient chart for you, and added links to the relevant resources at the bottom.
Android users should use Tagmo, available on Google Play.
iPhone users should use Tagmiibo, available on the App Store, and buy the lifetime writing capabilities for $10. That’s the Apple Tax for you.
PC Users have the benefits of a Powersaves for amiibo, which very easily saves backups of amiibo. Amiibo Powersaves comes with a Powertag, solving all your amiibo emulation problems.
Do all amiibo work with all compatible games?
Not exactly, no. Some games only recognize a few amiibo, and have functions for only those amiibo. You can find Nintendo’s official compatibility chart here.
There are amiibo that are far more used than others, though. Whenever an amiibo is of a Mario character, it’s almost certainly going to be used in a wide variety of games. The Super Mario series Mario amiibo is used in the most games, ranging from costume unlocks in Super Mario Odyssey to a playable Mario FP in Super Smash Bros. series games.
Tagmo is the primary app that people use to make amiibo cards. Tagmo is available on Google Play as of August 2022, so you can simply download it to your Android the same way you’d download anything else.
Can I make amiibo cards with Amiiqo?
Amiiqo doesn’t function any better than Tagmo, so I recommend using Tagmo instead. It’s available on more platforms, is more functional, and is significantly more reliable than Amiiqo. Tagmo is also updated periodically, whereas Amiiqo has been abandoned since the days of the Wii U.
What do I need to use amiibo?
Amiibo are compatible with three main families of Nintendo products – the 3DS, Wii U and Nintendo Switch families.
To use amiibo on 3DS, you’ll need a 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS or 3DS XL, or a 2DS. If you’re using amiibo with a 2DS, 3DS or 3DS XL, you’ll also have to pick up a Nintendo 3DS NFC Reader/Writer or the Codejunkies’ aftermarket version.
To use amiibo on Wii U, you only need the Wii U Gamepad. The amiibo touchpoint is located on the left side of the Gamepad, below the directional pad.
To use amiibo on Nintendo Switch, you’ll need either a Joy-Con (R) or a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. It has to be an official Pro Controller, by the way.