In the 1990s, keychain-sized virtual pets were everywhere (except schools, where they were quickly banned for being disruptive). The Tamagotchi toys were simple egg-shaped devices made of colorful plastic with a tiny LCD screen that displayed an equally tiny and very pixelated alien creature that needed constant attention to survive. There were many evolutions and variations, but all were based on the same story: the creature grows through several stages, and will develop based on the care the player provides, with better care resulting in smarter and happier adult creatures.
The story of Tamagotchi has been retold on GeekDad for years, including a post more than a decade ago by Brad Moon, Tamagotchi: Eleven Years Old and Still Demanding Attention. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original launch, Bandai America has released a smaller, simpler version of the classic Tamagotchi digital pets we all learned to love and take care of (something so pervasive that it became known as the “Tamagotchi effect,” an emotional attachment with machines, robots, or software agents).
The second generation of the new toys will be available mid-February with a sentimental twist—the US colors from 1997 are returning, plus limited-edition fuzzy flocked versions in baby pink and baby blue. More variants are promised in the coming months, with new color combinations.
Since the 20th anniversary of Tamagotchi, we received an overwhelming demand from fans to bring the devices back. By releasing the mini Tamagotchi in these cool colors and new textures, we’re able to reach new fans that come to love nurturing play of Tamagotchi, while also giving existing fans what they’ve been clamoring for—more to add to their collection.
Tara Badie, Bandai America Marketing Director
Bandai America provided samples of the mini Tamagotchi for this review, all opinions are my own. Not only are the toys exactly as I recall, but my children were just as fascinated as we were decades ago. They are fun, endearing, and as habit-forming as ever—just ask my fourth graders.