| Tamagotchi

The Tamagotchi could be classed as the perfect baby for the digital age: they're cheap, easy to look after, and you can just press 'reset' when you're bored of them and want to start again. On the other hand, imagine what would happen if this virtual form of childcare slipped through into the real world?

We could be breeding a generation of children who think that when they eventually have kids of their own, their babies will come with an 'off' button for when the parents tire of the endless sleepless nights, screaming and foul-smelling expulsions. Hey, it could happen. After all, many of us spent most of our teenage years thinking that all miners were manic…

Anyway. What you have here, then, is a Tamagotchi on your mobile phone. You should know the drill by now: start the game and it hatches as a funny-looking creature, and you've then got the amount of time it takes for your patience to run out to look after it by making sure that it's healthy, well fed, played with and clean.

On-screen indicators let you know when it's hungry, dirty or time to administer some virtual medicine. There's little skill involved – a press of a button brings up a food icon at the top of the screen and you scroll through the other options.

Arguably the important one here is the scales, as not only does this give you the weight and age of your Tamagotchi, but also a breakdown of its general wellbeing. Marked as a series of hearts and graded from one to four, it assists you in meeting the objective of keeping your pet in peak condition.

Unfortunately, as millions of children the world over have already found thanks to the original toy, keeping a Tamagotchi alive soon becomes insanely dull. And that's because, as life simulations go, Tamagotchi is impressively realistic – once the monotony and repetitiveness of ordinary life becomes too much and the novelty wears off, the virtual pet is consigned to the bottom of the toy box, along with the Buzz Lightyear doll and Pokémon cards.

Which is why we can't help but think that Bandai has missed an opportunity with this mobile edition by not finally upgrading the graphics. Sure, there's the odd splash of colour here and there, but the user interface and iconography is identical to the most basic Tamagotchi keyrings littering car boot sales across the globe.

Would it have been sacrilegious to include proper icons, along with detailed pets and even better mini-games? These are to be expected these days so it's obviously disappointing to find they haven't been implemented. In fact, other than the option to change the background colour and the ability to check your Tamagotchi's development via a journal, there's actually very little new stuff on offer here.

Also, why no wireless connectivity? The latest toy Tamagotchis enable your virtual pet to interact with other people's – and even buy gifts that can be sent wirelessly – which would clearly have made perfect sense to include in a mobile version.

Alas, it's yet another wasted chance in what emerges as a lazy conversion of an outdated toy. Having a virtual pet on your phone is not without a small amount of charm, granted, but you can't help but feel it's a dynamic that should have evolved further than it has by now.


It's Tamagotchi on your mobile, granted, but that's a concept gaming and the world of virtual petting has left behind
Dean Mortlock
Dean Mortlock
Dean's been writing about games for 15 years now and has played more than he's had hot dinners. Mind you, he does eat a lot of salad…