Exciting news in nineties nostalgia! Bandai America announced this week that they would be bringing back the digital pocket pets Tamagotchi in honor of their 20th anniversary. Scheduled to become available on November 5, you can pre-order your virtual best friend now.
For those who don't know, Tamagotchi are little pixilated pets who live on a small piece of plastic attached to a keychain. They start as eggs and then hatch into creatures that need an inordinate amount of attention to stay alive. Owners must feed, nurture, and clean their Tamagotchi by pressing buttons throughout the day. Neglect your digital pet and it will start to display a bad attitude. Neglect it for longer, and it will die.
So should you buy it? Will this be the hot Christmas present of 2017? I heard that the good people of Bandai America were providing bloggers and tech writers advance Tamagotchi to review, so of course I waited with baited breathe for my invitation. When that didn't come, and emails sent to their public relations department went unreturned, I had to rethink my strategy. How could I give you, the reader, an honest depiction of the experience of owning a virtual pet? It was just at this moment that my cat Yossarian sprung from under the table, bit my foot, yowled, ran into and knocked over a small statue, and jumped to the top of the bookcase. Inspiration had struck.
A cat like Yossarian (or Yoyo to his friends) is, after all, a pet, and what is a pet if not an analog version of a virtual pet? Much like parents may start a child with a Tamagotchi to see if they can handle the demands of dog ownership, couldn't I review my experience with Yoyo to recommend the Tamagotchi? The answer is so obvious that my editor was without words when I pitched the idea to her.
Here, then, is my day taking care of my analog Tamagotchi.
Like a Tamagotchi, Yoyo begins as an egg. Unlike the Tamagotchi though, Yoyo is presumably sleepy this morning because he spent last night racing around the apartment, making noises that sound suspiciously like he's sharpening his claws on every rug and chair we have, and periodically pouncing on the bed. To "hatch" your Tamagotchi you simply set the device's internal clock. To "hatch" Yoyo I make a move towards the general direction of the kitchen and he transforms into a hungry bolt of lightning.
Time for work. Tamagotchi can clip to your belt loop or bag strap to come along with you to the office. This is not true for a cat, but I work from home, so the effect is the same. As I settle into my desk, Yoyo attempts to unnerve me by perching on his cat tower
and staring at me without blinking.
Throughout the day, Tamagotchi will demand your attention by beeping insistently. This will be your cue to interrupt your work to give it a snack or do some other bit of labor for it.
One of your main interactions with a Tamagotchi is poop removal. If you don't clean up the digital excrement left by your virtual pet, it will eventually clog the screen and kill your friend. I did not photograph this part of the day, but Yoyo let me know I had work to do by scrabbling noisily in his litter box for a long time. When I finished scooping, I was rewarded for my good work by this view of Yoyo casually defying death and common sense by choosing to perch on this uncomfortable and narrow ledge, overlooking a 14-foot sheer drop to a concrete floor. Please note the very soft and inviting pet bed from World Market
that is being ignored right behind him.
Unfortunately, the new and simplified version of the Tamagotchi does not have a play option. This is really a shame, because playtime is often the most rewarding part of pet ownership. Like most cats, Yoyo loves to play in boxes and bags, and he doesn't have any problem expressing when he's done interacting and would like a little "me time".
The rain has started to fall, and Yoyo has gotten bored again. Having a Tamagotchi can sometimes feel like a full-time job, and you will be tempted to just ignore it. Understand though that just like in real life, ignoring your pet for too long can result in negative consequences.
Dinnertime. Another day is in the books. Feeding your Tamagotchi is as easy as pressing a button, but Yoyo requires fancy dishes (including a personalized water glass
) and a relaxed ambiance.
Yes, if owning a Tamagotchi is anything like owning a plain-old analog pet, I would highly recommend making the purchase!