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A Nostalgia-Driven Trip To The 90s: Hands-On With Bandai’s Tamagotchi Friends

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It’s 1996 and a team of visionaries working for Bandai have come up with an interesting idea: To make a device that allows children the opportunity to raise their own pets, without the real-life responsibility that comes with actual pet ownership. This idea gave birth to the very first of it’s kind; the Tamagotchi, who’s name comes from the amalgamation of the Japanese word for egg, tamago, with the English word watch. The Tamagotchi, thanks to it’s incredible rise in popularity, then gave birth to the well-known Digimon, which, in and of itself, spawned a countless number of handheld video games that took the world by storm.

For the West, this virtual pet craze was short-lived, piquing in popularity during the late 90s, leading up to the early 2000s. Over in Japan, as is usually the case, the love for Tamagotchi never saw as steep a decline, with a new model being released periodically since the original made it’s mark on the world. The funny thing about us as human beings is that, while we should be constantly looking ahead into the future, we long for what made us happy in the past, this is something we all know as “nostalgia”; a powerful sentimentality that keeps us young as our lives move ever forward.

This is something that has recently changed, though. The Tamagotchi, something once forgotten in the West, has made it’s way back in the form of Tamagotchi Friends; a new take on the original device that plays host to many of the same features as it’s predecessors, albeit updated for a more modern time. With nostalgia compelling us, we at SnapThirty wrangled ourselves a pair of these new models in not only an attempt to quell our uncontrollable need for what made us so happy in the past, but also to determine whether or not the Tamagotchi should have stayed in the 90s; a time ruled by it’s overwhelming popularity.

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The very first thing you notice about the new Tamagotchi Friends model is that it is far thicker than any other model released in the West. Almost three times chunkier that that of the original, there’s a reason as to why this is so: One of the new features of this model is that it connects to others via a “bump” feature that has owners of the device tap the back plates of their individual handhelds which then instigates the connectivity stage of gameplay. Owners can choose whether or not to send their pet to that of another device for something akin to a “play date”, they can send one another presents or text messages, and, after a certain amount of time, two Tamagotchi Friends of opposing genders can get married, have a child, and continue their journey as the next generation.

Connecting with another Tamagotchi Friend does, in the long run, unlock a great deal of extra features within one’s individual device. Interaction with another Tamagotchi builds what is referred to as a “BFF Meter”. Once this meter has been entirely populated, it unlocks a set of additional games that, much like the stock standard trio, gift players with in-game cash that can be used to purchase food and presents. As mentioned above; if connected with the same Tamagotchi over and over again, eventually said duo will fall in love, get married, and have a child each, which will then serve as your next pet. The more this occurs, the better the turnout; awarding you different evolution paths and even a change in the aesthetic of your pet’s environment. Marriage and child birth can also be achieved when NOT connecting with another Tamagotchi, but the removal of someone to experience a virtual pet alongside does indeed take away from it as a whole.

As far as it’s raising mechanics go; it’s not that much different from the original Tamagotchi: You can feed it different meals, you can play different games, at times you will need to remove it’s droppings, and on occasion you will have to treat it’s sickness. These features, among many others, make up for your standard Tamagotchi experience. If you have, in the past, had your very own Tamagotchi, the Tamagotchi Friends model will not be that much of a departure. Something that has been removed from this model, though, is that of the play item feature that once allowed your pet to interact with specific toys which would raise happiness and, depending on what the item was specifically, lower it’s weight. Though it doesn’t take too much away from the Tamagotchi Friends experience, it doesn’t seem as though it needed not be in this iteration of the virtual pet.

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For all intents and purposes; the Tamagotchi Friends model is very much reminiscent of the original. The display is much more detailed, this time featuring animated environments rather than static wallpapers, but apart from that it is much the same. As I mentioned earlier; the Tamagotchi Friends experience is much the same as it has always been. Despite the fact that, yes, this version is updated to suit a more contemporary time, it still retains the same heart that the long line of handheld pets has always featured. Purchasing one of these alongside friends is something that I personally would urge because it does add so much more to the overall experience simply because you have someone to share the fun with. Regardless, I think that the Tamagotchi still stands strong as the mother of all virtual pets. It’s the older sister of the Digimon, and I strongly believe that we should all respect our elders, so why not give the Tamagotchi another chance?

Tamagotchi Friends is now available to purchase in United Kingdom, and Australia through the Toys ‘R’ Us online store which you can get to via the following links:

United Kingdom – Click Here

Australia – Click Here

For those of you out there who want to see more of Bandai’s Tamagotchi Friends, how about checking out our unboxing and introduction video? The video has been provided for you just below:

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