It only took 25 years, but Bandai this fall released a wearable, functional watch version of its beloved Tamagotchi virtual pet.
The device, Tamagotchi Smart, has touchscreen controls, a pedometer, and inexpensive DLC in the form of themed memory cards to keep things fresh. You can also “talk” to your pet thanks to the inclusion of a little microphone.
But all of that pales in comparison to one particular, huge upgrade it brings: a built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Yes, you heard me right. No more AAA batteries, just a tiny charging cable.
So far, Tamagotchi Smart is a Japan-only release — but that’s not stopping anyone elsewhere (hello, me!) from getting in on the fun.
And after a few weeks playing with it, I can honestly say...
There’s a lot about Tamagotchi Smart that will be familiar to fans, but the navigation interface is pretty different than that in Tamagotchi Pix/On/Meets. It has a touchscreen and a single tactile button instead of three, and bubbly menu icons. Still, it’s pretty intuitive (though I needed some help from Google Lens’s translate tool).
You can change your Tama’s room decorations, dress it up in accessories, visit the park or your backyard terrace, go shopping, and play games. And, of course, there’s a dating app.
There’s no genetics system like we saw with Tamagotchi Meets/On, which is kind of a bummer; when you marry off your Tama and hatch a new egg, it will always be one of the existing characters. But the included characters feature a number of fresh faces, so that's a plus.
Purchasing a TamaSma card ($10) will bring new characters to your device, too, as well as free (!!) new food choices, rooms, items, and accessories.
Games on Tamagotchi Smart are actually your character going to work, and there are four built-in options. Downloading the content of a TamaSma Card will add a game, too.
The games are a bit more involved than in past devices. There’s a matching game, a movement-based “dance” game, a food delivery game that’s actually pretty tricky, and a dog-grooming game that requires you to shake the device.
Tamagotchi Smart is a pretty solid device. I’ve consistently managed to get a few days out of a single charge, and since it uses a charging cable and not physical batteries, battery life is less of an issue. But boy is it needy.
It’s a pretty demanding virtual pet, or at least it feels that way in comparison to my other Tamas. It’s hard to keep it happy at first, though I did find that once you cross a certain threshold of fondness — you’ll be awarded a special icon for this — it seems to calm down.
The touch controls take some getting used to, too (which, to be fair, could be due to mistranslated instructions on my end). I’ve found swiping diagonally instead of straight up or down solved most of my issues, like switching to the clock face or to different pages of the menu.
Speaking of clock faces, I like that there are several to choose from, digital and analog. I have no idea how to properly use the microphone feature (again, probably a translation thing) and the pedometer is very, very generous, which is something to keep in mind.
As for the size...
Honestly, I can’t get enough of this thing. I’m shocked it took this long for it to come into being but, clearly, that time was spent making it into a fully realized product — unlike some others that felt incomplete when they hit the market. Hopefully, an English-language version will follow.
My only complaint? Shoulda called it Tamawatchi.