Tamagotchi Is Back, Baby: I Love My Dead Alien Kid And So Will You

tamagotchi bandai namco
The six designs for the 20th anniversary Tamagotchi. (c) Bandai Namco

Listen: I’m a nineties kid. Was a nineties kid. Am eternally a nineties kid, with a love of Tamagotchi, girl groups, boy bands, Beanie Babies and Lisa Frank stationery coded memetically into my DNA. Forget your little Giga Pet, forget your fake-ass Nano Pet, forget your Pocket Pikachu: Tamagotchi was, is, and will forever be the virtual pet OG.

In the age of apps and smartphones, some fools may wonder what the purpose of a virtual pet is. Even Tamagotchi has an app, if what you want is another screen to tap. But like many in a world that’s increasingly driven by the cloud, I’ve rediscovered a love for the physical, the old-fashioned: planners, fountain pens, Tomoe River paper and yes, a physical Tamagotchi, with physical buttons and a physical shell and a physical design. There is intrinsic value in stubbornly insisting on the analog in a world that wants your brain to outsource its functions to a smartphone.

I received one of Bandai’s 20th Anniversary limited edition Tamagotchi back at New York Comic Con last month. This version is smaller and cuter than the original, though it boasts six of the original attractive designs from its Japanese debut. There’s a pure white one, a see-through blue one, a yellow-and-orange one, and three funky ones with extremely ‘90s “1, 2, 3” splashed colorfully across the shell. All of the designs are both nostalgic and appealing.

tamagotchi packaging
The 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi packaging. Photo: (c) Bandai Namco

The new Tamagotchi is not only considerably smaller, its playstyle is also simplified for the reduced attention spans of a new generation. This makes it a worthy intro to virtual pets, though actual former nineties kids will miss some of the original’s interactive features. The new, cuter, simpler Tamagotchi lets you feed your pet, clean up its poop, and turn the lights off. No playtime, but if you leave too much poop on the screen, it’ll get sick. Medicine is administered automatically by hitting the same button you use to clean the poop. The Bandai 20th Anniversary Tamagotchis are fantastic as a celebration of the 90s icon. They whet the appetite for a full-featured, full-sized Tamagotchi.

The constant beep-boops of your attention-seeking Tamagotchi might drive you nuts (that is, after all, why schools eventually banned the little darlings back in the day), but they’re a lot less distressing than push notifications telling you about the latest political catastrophe or environmental disaster befalling your locality. They hearken back to a more innocent time, if you were a nineties kid, or to a time whose aesthetic is pretty trendy now, if you weren’t. They take your attention off your Twitter feed for at least two seconds, and you can use the regular beep-boops as prompts to get up, stretch, water yourself, and feed your little alien some candy.

The best part is that even if your Tamagotchi dies, you still love the physical thing itself, the adorable tiny Tamagotchi shell with its big ol’ tactile physical buttons, and you can always get a new Tamagotchi egg to nurture. I love my little baby Tamagotchi and can’t wait for more ‘gotchi from Bandai. Fingers crossed for a Tamagotchi renaissance.

(Anybody remember the Tamagothi browser game or was that just me? So edgy!)

Anyway, Tamagotchi toys are available now in limited quantities at Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Amazon, along with various retailers across the country. The mini Tamagotchis are sold individually and come in six different designs at a very affordable $14.99 sticker price. (No, they don’t come in the old packaging, unfortunately. Wait, Padawan, til the time is right!)

What do you think? Is the time right for the return of the Tamagotchi? What’s your favorite design? Do you still have your OG Tamagotchi in the bottom of a box somewhere? Is it a Tamagotchi Angel and can I buy it off you? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.


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