Since I’ve been bedridden and lacking on impulse control from sleepless nights and a little painkiller, a perfect storm combined to get me into a new handheld fandom – Tamagotchi. As a child, I had some kind of knock-off tamagotchi – a plastic egg keychain that had a very tiny, black and white pixel critter inside. This new style, revamped from the new kawaii masterminds in Japan, is a far cry from the childhood fad I grew up with. While still small and vaguely egg-shaped – ‘tamago’ means egg in Japanese ever after – the chunky relic has been upgraded to a sleek faceplate in an array of pastel colors set with iridescent gems. Thinking they’d make a cute accessory more than anything, I did a little research and fell in love.
My Tamagotchi P is a tiny digital video game, completely in colorful pixel art. While it’s still operated by just three buttons, the game is pretty expansive. You still raise your baby tama into an adult, but with a much wide world. Your tama can enjoy the park, the arcade, an adorable cafe and Asian restaurant, a department store and school. As an adult, your tama can get a part time job to keep the money flowing into buying accessories, never-ending snacks (their stomachs are bottomless, I swear) and toys to play with. If you have a friend with a Tamagotchi P, you can also interface your P’s together through the infrared reader.
Note also that the Tamagotchi P is entirely in Japanese. It’s written in simple hiragana and katakana for children, so it’s about right at my reading level for a fun way to practice! If you don’t read any Japanese, worry not – there are guides that translate the game’s scripts, and reading is minimal in this case anyway. There is a current project going on to alter the P’s to use English!
When you’ve exhausted your current collection of items and decorations, you can buy a Deco Pierce for your game. This little crowning gem acts as an expansion pack, unlocking various games, new characters to raise, items and wallpapers. Besides a number of themes like royalty, fairies and desserts, several big names have also done Deco Pierce collaborations like Disney and Sanrio. I just received my first Deco Pierce, which is called Dream to Change or Yumemiru. The big bow is super girly, and the matching lanyard makes it easy to wear my tamagotchi like a fashion accessory or a bag charm.
I’m definitely not a serious videogame player, and this device is just the right fit for me – cute, mobile (since a lot of my downtime is during travel or doctor’s visits) and low commitment. While it may chirp for attention or food occasionally, it’s fairly easy on the commitment scale. If you’re busy, there’s a hack to put it to sleep or to simply pop out the batteries.
There are several forums where Tamagotchi fans around the world discuss tips, gameplay and fan art. There’s also an anime and a world of branded products to collect for the fandom to cut their teeth on.