Tamagotchis are back and maybe this time, your pet won’t die so easily from neglect.
The nostalgic egg-shaped pocket-sized toy now comes as a watch, for those who need a constant reminder to feed, bathe, and discipline digital pets.
The Japanese girl group NiziU is collaborating with Bandai to release the newest Tamagotchi model. Photo: Courtesy of BANDAI via Fashion Press
Past Tamagotchis were notoriously hard to keep alive, as they demanded consistent tender love and care, but this latest version—supposedly the “smartest” of them all—includes new features that could potentially help even the most negligent of owners.
“Power Up” allows users to record conversations with their pets, and uses the mic feature in the hopes of fostering a “deeper” emotional connection. The Tamagotchi will be able to “hear” and “sense” you, as a real pet would.
It will also have a touch feature that, as the name suggests, lets owners touch, tickle, and pet their Tamagotchi. Tamagotchi pets often die in the game from a lack of love, but skinship should improve the relationship.
And of course, because it’s a watch, users can bring their Tamagotchi anywhere they go. No more toy pets shutting down after hours in a school bag—a common cause of their demise.
Digital pets, starting with video game company PF Magic’s Dogz, have been popular children’s toys since the late 90s. Since then, the world has enjoyed a number of virtual companions, from the Tamagotchi to the Nintendogs, a pet simulation game by Japanese game company Nintendo.
When Tamagotchi was first launched in November 1996, the toy was marketed toward Japanese schoolgirls, but quickly gathered a global fanbase, making its way to the United States market in 1997. According to Bandai, as of March 2021, the company has sold over 83 million pieces. Now sold in over 30 countries, the Tamagotchi franchise includes books, clothing, movies, and TV shows.
The original Tamagotchi. Photo: TORU YAMANAKA / AFP
The first model featured many of the same features seen today. Users fed, played, and cared for their pets on the handheld egg-shaped keychain. In Tamagotchi’s 25 years, the toy has maintained its shape, occasionally changing color and screen size.
In 2008, Bandai released its first colored version of Tamagotchi, the Tamagotchi Plus Color. In November 2017, Bandai made the Tamagotchi Mini, which was 60 percent smaller than the original.
With advances in Bluetooth technology, Bandai created the Tamagotchi On in 2018 that allows users to connect their other devices. Owners could now transfer their pets on the Tamagotchi On app, to meet other creatures and play in games. This was also the first Tamagotchi in color sold in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Bandai announced the Tamagotchi Pix, which will drop in July and come with a camera and touch buttons. Pet owners could insert themselves in photos with their Tamagotchi and share these photos with friends via QR codes.
Tamagotchi Smart is set to hit stores on November 23 and will come in coral pink and mint blue. It will feature 10 pets, and each Tamagotchi will cost 6,380 yen ($57.64).
The toys won’t be sold internationally at first, but hopefully they’ll be available before the end of cuddle season.