Tamagotchi (Gameboy)

You remember Tamagotchis don’t you? Of course you do! They kicked off the whole digital pet craze of the late 90’s. If you didn’t actually own a Tamagotchi, no doubt you owned at least one Digimon, or Nano Pet, or Giga Pet or any one of the various other virtual pets available at the time. If somehow you were living under a rock at the time, I’ll give you a quick explanation. Tamagotchis were small digital pets that lived inside little egg shaped keychains. You kept them with you all day, and throughout the day they would get hungry, or want to play, or go to the bathroom, get sick etc. Everything a real pet would do. Basically all the fun of owning a pet without any of the real mess or fear that you might actually kill something with your bad care taking. I actually still have a few of them, and every so often I’ll put new batteries into them for fun.

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At the peak of the craze, someone had the bright idea to make a Gameboy adaptation of the fun little virtual pets. It made some sense I guess, the Gameboy was already portable like the actual pets, and the bigger screen would allow for more possibilities. Only good can come from this improvement in technology, right?

Gameplay

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Tamagotchis have apparently crash landed their space ship on earth, killing everyone on board, but sparing the unhatched eggs. Or so I’m to believe from the brief intro scene. It’s up to you to raise and care for them in place of their real parents.

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Unlike the original Keychain version, you actually get to choose the style egg you’re going to raise. Not that the egg itself makes much difference. It hatches into a little baby in seconds and will need immediate attention. Mostly, it just needs food and someone to play with it.

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Food is easy to take care of. There are 3 different choices of food, which are bread, meat, and carrots. Each type of Tamagotchi has a favorite and least favorite type of food, but they’ll eat whatever you give them all the same.

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Fun can be a little trickier to fill. You can of course go the easy way and feed him ice cream and cake. Everyone loves some ice cream and cake. But be careful because too much could make it sick. Not to mention it will also make it fat and generally unhealthy.

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The better, healthier alternative is to actually PLAY with the Tamagotchi. There are 3 different games you can play, but only the first game actually makes him happier. In it, the Tamagotchi will look either left or right, and you have to guess which way it’s going to face. There’s no skill involved in this, no subtle indications to pick up on, or any other kind of clues. It’s completely random and you just have to hope you were lucky enough to guess correctly at least 3 out of the 5 tries.

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The other two games are learning games. There’s a math game which will make your Tamagotchi smarter, and a sports game to make it stronger. Both of these games are made all the more difficult by the fact that you don’t have direct control of your Tamagotchi. In the math game, you can press the arrows to tell it the right answers, but it won’t always listen.

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Then with the Sports game, you need to catch the falling balls. You’ll have a bit better control over him now, but not complete control. It will respond fairly well, but it will also occasionally jump around on its own. This can make this otherwise simple game very frustrating. You want him to just wait in the center, but he wants to go jump off to the right. Then of course the ball shows up on the left and there’s no way to get back to it in time.

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After stuffing your Tamagotchi with food and then making it run around, inevitably it’s going to have to poop at some point. As a baby it will simply poop on the floor, and you’ll have to just flood the whole house with water to clean it. Thankfully it will use the toilet when it gets older, if you manage to get to it in time that is.

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That’s pretty much going to be your normal day with a Tamagotchi. You’re just cycling around between feeding it, playing with it and cleaning up after it. Each in game day will take about an hour, but you can advance the clock while it’s asleep, cutting that down to about 30 minutes. After a few days, it will grow to a toddler and again to an adult.

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The only other thing you can really do with your Tamagotchi is to enter it into competitions. The beauty contests have you make weird faces, while math competitions are identical to the math game, and then the races are just a straight sprint. These are kind of fun, but you can only enter once each in game day, so it’s not really an engaging feature.

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As you care for your Tamagotchi, it will hopefully stay in good health for most of its life. But no matter how good your care, it will still get sick eventually. When it does you need to give it either pills or shots to make it better, depending on what appears to be wrong with it. It won’t like it, but it will quickly feel better and be back to its normal self.

 

Unfortunately, your Tamagotchi won’t live forever, no matter how good your raise it. Sometimes it will come on suddenly, and there’s just nothing you can do to save it. One second it’ll be bouncing around with joy and the next it’ll be laying on the ground breathing its last breath. Such is the short life of a Tamagotchi.

Verdict

Gameplay – 5 / 10

Technically, everything functions the way it’s supposed to, and perfectly reflects how it is in the keychain versions. Unfortunately, about half the game is just watching it bounce around doing nothing. It’s a very low interactivity game, and the mini games aren’t engaging enough to keep your interest. You are capable of caring for up to 3 Tamagotchis at once, which helps to keep it engaging. At any given time, one of the 3 is bound to need some form of attention. But it doesn’t really make the experience any more entertaining. It just adds more repetition.

Graphics – 6 / 10

The graphics are an improvement over the original, which was never really in doubt. Unfortunately they aren’t anything special. There’s just a generic house background and slightly larger sprites for the characters and items.

Audio – 6 / 10

The background music is cheerful enough, and fairly entertaining. But you’ll be listening to the same 30 second loop for the vast majority of the several hours you play the game. There is other music in the menus and mini games, but these events are so short that you won’t have time to enjoy the change.

Story – N/A

There really isn’t a “Story.” you found an alien egg and it hatched thinking you’re its mother. Now take care of it. There’s really no story beyond that.

Total Playtime – 5h 19m

I may have “played” for several hours, but I wasn’t even paying attention to it for most of that time. To be honest, most of the time I was either on here writing more articles, or otherwise surfing the internet. I don’t think I’m exaggerating much when I say at least 90% of the game is simply sitting there waiting for it to need you again. Just take a look at little Tama’s final day up above. I left all the empty time in the video as an example of how little you actually do.

Total Deaths – 1 Death from Sudden Heart Attack

There are various different sicknesses that might end up killing your Tamagotchi, but they were only really a problem in the keychain version. You might not have heard your Tamagotchi warn you it was sick, and by the time you noticed, it was too late. But with this version, you’re watching it the whole time. I think my little guy only even got sick once, and that was a tummy ache from too much ice cream. Really he never has to die if you don’t want him to. Once he becomes an adult you can always send him back to his home planet. Then again, he might die suddenly and for no apparent reason like my little guy did.

Overall Score – 5 / 10

Technically it does everything it set out to do, and it does it well. The problem is that what it set out to do isn’t really suited for the Gameboy. The keychains were fun because they were always on, and always with you. They felt like a real pet. But most of all, you weren’t watching it do nothing for hours on end. The game emulates the keychain pets perfectly and in some cases improves on the original formula, but without that real time interaction, or rather lack of interaction, the whole game lacks substance. If you want a virtual pet, get an actual virtual pet, because this just isn’t going to do it for you.

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Written in loving memory of little Tama

 

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