As consumers were forced to spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the video game industry has seen explosive growth. The pandemic-driven gaming boom saw a 37% increase in gaming sales in the US. Although this growth may not be sustainable as vaccination efforts continue and more people are able to venture out, the baseline is higher than ever before.
It’s the perfect time for Japanese toy and game manufacturer Bandai to release a smartwatch version of their beloved, handheld digital pet, Tamagotchi. Although Bandai has released new Tamagotchis in Japan and other markets over the years, the latest Tamagotchi Smart model taps into the retro gaming trend that has seen goods from the 80s and the 90s gain cult status and big sales in the process.
25 Years of Tamagotchi
When it was released in 1996, the Tamagotchi became one of the biggest toy fads of all time, inspiring video games, brand collaborations with other famous Japanese characters, and even its own animated film. From its monochrome 8-bit beginning to the camera-equipped Tamagotchi Pix from earlier this year, Tamagotchi Smart promises to be more responsive, with advanced graphics and colors.
Tamagotchi Smart keeps its core concept of feeding, cleaning, and petting electronic pet characters until they grow up and pass away, allowing a new pet to be born. Now, it will have a full-color display, with full touch support and other smartwatch features like a pedometer and a music player. The device will go on digital sale on November 23, 2021, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Tamagotchi.
Tamagotchi Smartwatch: What’s New?
With your virtual pet strapped onto your wrist, you’re less likely to lose the device or forget your pet. The Tamagotchi Smart comes in two colors: Coral Pink and Mint Blue, although a limited edition white variant can be purchased via lottery. The device itself has an egg-like shape with an ABS/PC/TPU body, three buttons, and a rectangular display shape. Sadly, the Tamagotchi Smart isn’t waterproof, as it includes dual micro-USB slots on the side. Here are three new features you can expect:
Technical design upgrades
The Tamagotchi Smart looks like a highly digitized version of the previously pixelated screen, and even powering the Tamagotchi is very modern. Instead of having to replace batteries regularly, it’s now rechargeable via USB Type-C. There are new design demands with the USB Type-C port, of course, and the creators seem to have addressed them. On top of power delivery, this specific type of port also super speeds USB data transmission and display outputs – both essential to a digital and connected device. The Tamagotchi can run up to 30 hours on a full charge, so you can hang out with your digital pet for hours at a time.
Unlike earlier iterations which, at best, came with a chain or lanyard, the new Tamagotchi has been designed to be worn on the wrist. This upgrade into wearable tech means that this new version is far less bulky and lighter. Considering these changes, it’s safe to assume that the Tamagotchi Smart uses a rigid-flex PCB which is often the case for smaller and more flexible devices. This ensures that the circuit boards are protected and capable of working without risk of interference, malfunctioning due to bending, vibrations, or changes in external temperature. This means that avid Tamagotchi fans can confidently bring and wear their pets virtually anywhere.
You have 10 different Tamagotchi pets to choose from. In order to add more characters, unlock additional mini-games, and give extra stuff to your Tamagotchi, you would need to get physical keys called TamaSma cards — which are sold separately.
Touch and voice controls
Players can now “talk” to their Tamagotchis through a built-in mic and speaker. However, don’t expect high-level speech recognition, as the device was invented with children in mind. The Tamagotchi pet can respond to noises, rather than words, so you can “wake” your Tamagotchi up and build a stronger bond.
The touchscreen LCD also allows you to stroke your virtual pet’s head, something that was missing in the earlier devices. With LCD, the display is thinner and consumes less power, but still shows high-quality graphics.
Classic smartwatch technology
Although the pace of 5G network growth has sped up over the past few years, the Tamagotchi Smart devices aren’t at that level of sophistication yet. However, the Connection feature makes it possible to transfer pets wirelessly between units, so you can send your pet to your friend’s watch and vice versa.
Aside from that, you can expect traditional wearable device features like a pedometer to track your steps, a music player, and a digital clock that displays the date and a watch face.
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