Remember Tamagotchis? Of course you do. They taught you about responsibility. They taught you about friendship. But most importantly, they taught you that friends don't leave friends in rooms filled with their own faeces. Now, it's time to reopen those old, grief-stricken wounds. The Tamagotchi is back—and it is still hungry.
What Is It?
Tamagotchi Friends: The all new, revamped version of the very first thing you ever killed. This time around, though, your personal, digital pal can grow into one of 24 (!) different adult Tamagotchis. This is, of course, a stark contrast to the lone, featureless blob we had no choice but to love once upon a 1996.
That's not the only thing that's changed, though. A new era calls for new features, so your needy buddy also comes with "short range communication." In other words, you and your (human) friends can bump Tamagotchis together, allowing them to interact, play, and send needlessly complicated brief text messages. Because nostalgia.
Who's It For?
Children. Lonely children. Children you hate. Anyone desperately grabbing at the forsaken remnants of their youth. Millennials.
The whole point of Tamagotchi Friends is that it stays as close to as possible to looking exactly like the Tamagotchis of yesteryear. No backlight, no colour, no real bells and whistles at all—just raw Tamagotchi, quick and dirty like god intended.
And while this one is about twice the size of the original, it does allow you to fix what used to be a major headache—dead batteries. It used to be the case that, once your battery ran its course, that was it. RIP, little buddy. But now, you can pop in a new set of AAAs should the need arise. That is, assuming you ever make it that far.
With a Tamagotchi, you are essentially committing yourself to the care of a ravenous, co-dependent, incontinent, and questionably drunk new best friend. We know this now. But back in 1996, we felt the same way about Tamagotchis that today's tweens feel about Snapchat—it was our lifeline. But as is the case with most things you once loved in childhood, upon meeting them again as an adult, the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia fades. Fast.
Your Tamagotchi begins its life after you choose one of three eggs. Then, an alarmingly brief incubation period of approximately 30 seconds gives way to a bouncing, baby girl- or boy-shaped bundle of pixels. Welcome to parenthood.
Of course, your newborn Tamagotchi is going to need constant care and comfort. Which, in this case, amounts to feeding your days-old infant entire loaves of breads and putting them behind the wheel of a car. You know, just like real babies.
That's also where this newest iteration diverges from its predecessor yet again. In order to keep your Tamagotchi happy, you're going to need to play one of three games: the driving game, a bastardized version of Dance Dance Revolution, and a shell game.
In addition to obtaining a happier friend, the games also allow you to win points, which you can then exchange for more filling food items or jewellery (fancy!). Or, if the games don't do it for you, there's always the Tamagotchi BFF bump. But in terms of the latter, the three buttons make forming any sort of coherent thought needlessly difficult. And to actually send the message, the receiving device will need to be in "receive" mode before bumping, which takes a whole bunch of synchronised clicking with your pal to actually function. It took us about a minute and a half to send the word "hi," so as an alternative, we suggest absolutely anything else.
One of the most remembered aspects of the original Tamagotchi was its tendency towards death by faeces. Supposedly, this can still happen in Tamagotchi Friends, but I can't speak from experience. Instead, my Tamagotchi just packed its bags and left. Which may seem harsh, but in his defence, sleeping in your own excrement is less than ideal.
After I kept my friend alive long enough to enter the exciting world of adulthood, boredom began to set in. I tired of watching it devour dozens of meals a day only to complain of hunger minutes later. And while cleaning up after its infant and toddler stages is one thing, there is something profoundly unsettling about being responsible for the hygienic disposal of a human(-esque) adult's bowel movements. I became neglectful, and my Tamagotchi became unhappy.
Then, one day, I noticed it hadn't beeped angrily at me in a while. I looked down only to find my beloved friend glaring at me with luggage and disgust. Not long after, it left, leaving behind a note that said something along the lines of "If you wanted me to stay, you should have loved me more." No matter how cold you think you are, being told by a virtual novelty pet that you're just not good enough can cut awfully deep.
Though it faded fast, it's worth noting that the first few minutes with my Tamagotchi were indeed thoroughly delightful.
And even though I may not have wanted it to keep working, it is phenomenally easy to forget how complacent we've become with shitty battery life. I'd wake up every morning, see my little digital leech out of the corner of my eye, and have a momentary panic attack that I'd forgotten to charge and/or keep him alive, only to remember that this thing will beep until the end of time.
The tedium that once seemed so novel as a kid is now just that—tedious. To make matters worse, even after you've spent dozens of seconds of your day cleaning up after your helpless little friend, he leaves you. No, there's no sweet release of death, your Tamagotchi literally packs up a suitcase, sits for a while to make sure that you bear witness to what you've done, and then goes on his merry way into a world he's in no way ready for.
Should You Buy It?
If it's for yourself, and after reading this you are still intrigued (feel you deserve to be punished), sure, why not. But if you're thinking of imparting upon a child the inevitable sorrow and loss that only a needy, wholly co-dependent, beepy little monster can provide—don't. Spend the £20 on sweets or tuition fees. We'll all be better for it.