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File this under “things that will make you feel old:” It’s been 16 years since Bandai first came out with its uber-popular (and uber-annoying) Tamagotchi virtual pet. Now, in honor of the virtual creature’s sweet sixteen, the company (now Namco Bandai) has released an even more virtual version of the virtual pet.
Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. for iOS lets you relive the joy of constantly having to feed, play with, and bathe a tiny pixelated alien who will eventually grow up into a whiny adult with a bad attitude (because, let’s face it, you didn’t take very good care of it).
To Namco Bandai’s credit, Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. is a pretty perfect re-creation of the original Tamagotchi experience, but with a couple of iOS app upgrades. The main screen features an exact replica of the original Tamagotchi: A plastic egg-shaped shell with a small square screen and three navigation buttons. The first button advances you through the menu options, the middle button lets you select an option, and the last button is a cancel button. If you press the middle button when you’re not in a menu, you’ll see the clock. The screen is blue and pink, with eight small icons—seven of which are menu options, and the last is an indicator button to tell you that the Tamagotchi wants something.
The Tamagotchi itself is a small pixelated creature that hatches out of an egg. It goes through several stages—from baby, to child, to teenager, to adult. Errr…that is, it goes through these stages if you take care of it properly and it doesn’t die first. To take care of the Tamagotchi, just listen for its obnoxious beeping (which you’ll “hear” in the form of a push notification) and try to keep it fed, happy, well disciplined, and clean.
Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. does have a couple of nice iOS upgrades to bring it into the 21stcentury. If you’re not too keen on the eggshell casing, or you don’t like to press a (virtual) button to cycle through the menu options, there’s an “app mode” option. App mode zooms into the screen part of the Tamagotchi, so all you see is the creature and the surrounding menu options—no shell or buttons. Here, you can press the icons to select them, which is a lot easier than cycling through them using the buttons. The Tamagotchi also has a small amount of color in this mode, since it’s bigger. There’s also a “rock, paper, scissors” game instead of the traditional game, which involves guessing which way your Tamagotchi will turn.
As you raise more and more Tamagotchis, you’ll unlock new cases and wallpapers. The cases will show when you’re in traditional mode (they’ll be the different egg cases around the screen), while the wallpapers will show when you’re in app mode. Other in-app goodies include a picture-taking button, a help menu, and access to Tamagotchi’s original instruction booklet.
If you ever owned a Tamagotchi, this app is a must-have. It’s a great re-creation of the original virtual pet, and it will definitely take you back to a time in your life when you actually had enough time and interest to respond to the whines of a virtual creature. However, if you’re currently asking yourself “Tamagotchi… what?” Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. probably isn’t going to woo you with its constant push notifications and needy gameplay.—Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
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