Summer of ’97 squealed open like the garage door storefronts on the hundreds of kitschy shops on the Wildwood Boardwalk, ushering in the era of the Tamagotchi and its many knockoffs (my favorite was Dinkie Dino). They were our pre-smartphone digital addiction. I spent hours keeping mine alive and subsequently mourning its angelic avatar when it inevitably died. My middle school swiftly banned the keychain-toys. I haven’t thought about them much since then. Apparently, My Tamagotchi Forever launched in March, but I saw it featured on the app store on Tuesday and gave it a download. It was not to last forever.
The tutorial was all the dose of nostalgia I needed. I got to care for the best character right off the bat. I learned how to force him to poop, feed him chocolate, and play the simple mini-games to keep him happy (and tire him out). Then he went outside to play soccer alone eternally and live out his days as an NPC. Around this time, I lost interest in the game.
There are 4 mini-games were you can earn coins, but they don’t add up quickly enough to both feed your demanding tamagotchi and upgrade the amenities in his little world. As you upgrade amenities, you unlock “Memorable Moments” which are basically photo ops for your pets. They don’t even seem all that memorable or even enjoyable.
Completing photo pages unlocks outfits. Of course you can purchase coins and gems to progress faster, but the reward isn’t worth it (unless you REALLY want to dress your tamagotchi like a weird magician).
Food is expensive for the earn rate. Pets are picky on what they want to eat. You can feed them anything, but it looks like you get a bonus if you give them what they want. One demanded nothing but french fries and it cost 45 coins to fill him up. Another demanded nothing but broccoli and then turned into an unsettling Nyan Starmie with chronic constipation.
Another weird thing – once your tamagotchi evolves, its former iteration sticks around. Your previous pets populate the town, forever trapped in a memorable moment. Occasionally they gift you coins so they feel like their lives still have some purpose.
It’s not the tamagotchi experience I wanted it to be. The mobile update featuring too-bright colors and chunky buttons feels insultingly childish, as do the mini-games. If you’re looking for modern relic of your digital pet days, install Pix on your widget screen and transform your iPhone into the little plastic egg you secretly miss.