wednesday, february 13, 2013
It's finally here!
Early last year, Bandai and Sync Beatz Entertainment has launched a campaign in North America called Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. (Love is fun everywhere) which is a set of lifestyle products inspired by the famous toy line, mainly targeted to women. While this has sent many Tamagotchi fans' eyebrows through the roof (myself included), they have promised to launch an app for Tamagotchi.
In partnership with Namco-Bandai, Tamagotchi is now officially available to smartphones. Many virtual pet apps are already available, however this is the very first virtual pet released by Bandai, which is the official one. The Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. app is now available at the Google Play store for Android users. iOS users need not pout as an iOS version will be released shortly.
The Nostalgia Factor
Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. is currently dedicated to bringing the original vintage Tamagotchis back into the mainstream after its popularity ended in the late 90's, and the app doesn't fail to deliver.
The app is basically a fully-ported version of the first-generation Tamagotchis (P1) to the smartphone platform. Everything stays the same - the pixelled character, care icons and the three-button interface.
Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. has thrown in an extra feature - the "App Mode". This is similar to the old P1 simulation, but this time with a touch-screen interface, larger screen, interchangeable background images, new minigame and our beloved vintage Tamagotchi characters in full colour! The animations are still identical to the classic mode but they appear to be smoother. It is also possible to switch between the classic Toy Mode and App mode anytime.
Tamagotchi Returnees Welcome
Just got back into Tamagotchi after all these years and feeling rusty? Don't worry - the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. app provides a very comprehensive and detailed tutorials. As a bonus, the original Tamagotchi P1's instruction manual is also available! The instructions are backed with properly-labelled screen captures as well.
Personalize your Tamagotchi!
Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. is fully customizable! The simple settings interface allows users to change the sound, notification and Facebook link settings. Yes, the app generates phone notifications if the Tamagotchi needs attention! It will let the phone vibrate in case it gets sick, falls asleep or feeling hungry. Users can also take a picture of their Tamagotchi and share it with their Facebook friends.
The app also keeps track of all the characters raised so far, and for each new character raised, new background images can be unlocked (applies only to App Mode).
Other than the background images, the design of the Tamagotchi shell can also be changed (Toy Mode). The default one is the clear-blue shell, and more designs can be unlocked as well.
This new app by Bandai-Namco is their first attempt to bring back the Tamagotchi fever by porting the entire P1 experience to the smartphones for the first time in years. It was an excellent conversion - the look and feel experience is the same as taking care of the actual device, with the exemption of the touchscreen interface and the coloured screen. The interface is also simple enough to understand, otherwise it is equipped with a very helpful tutorial. The customizable backgrounds and design shells are a big plus, however these have to be unlocked.
Despite the almost-complete conversion, it appears that it has been tweaked a bit, as the Tamagotchi appears to be less needy compared to the actual Tamagotchi, which can be either helpful for someone maintaining a busy lifestyle or a deal-breaker, for Tamagotchi fans who are after the challenge of taking care of a virtual pet.
- Two interfaces - Toy Mode to simulate the classic Tamagotchi toy and the App mode for enhanced gameplay
- Authentic Tamagotchi look and feel
- Customizable backgrounds/design shells
- Complete vintage Tamagotchi experience
- Takes advantage of the phone features such as vibration alerts/social networking
- Comprehensive and in-depth user guides
- Less needy character (depending on the user preference)
- Contains only 11 raisable characters
- Most customizations have to be unlocked
- The button that is used to switch between App/Toy mode is using a "magnifying glass" icon (can be easily confused with Search/Find)
- The interchangeable background images can only be used when in App Mode only
- The gameplay features are completely limited to the original 1996 Tamagotchi version
- The App Mode graphics could have been better
- Less needy character (depending on the user preference)
The Bottom Line
Overall, the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. app has been able to bring the vintage Tamagotchi experience to the mobile world. Albeit completely sticking to the limitations of the P1 version, they have managed to pump in a few cool additions such as the enchanced mode and customizations. It's a good thing that the app has been able to take advantage of the smartphone capabilities to enhance the gameplay.
If you're a Tamagotchi fan back in the 90's who had the original toy but fell out of the fad when its popularity died out a few years later - this app will completely bring you the nostalgic feeling of taking care of a Tamagotchi again, but this time without its overly needy nature in the convenience of your very own mobile device.
However, if you're a Tamagotchi enthusiast who's always updated and is aware of the latest releases in Japan, expect the app to be nothing more than just a vintage Tamagotchi emulator with a few extras pumped in.
In the end, I still feel that the app is a welcome addition to any Tamagotchi fan's mobile device. Currently, I personally find Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. being odd because while it strives to bring back the popularity of Tamagotchi back to North America, it is currently targetting women by releasing lifestyle products. As a male Tamagotchi fan, I have my own share of criticisms for the weird marketing concept but with the release of this app, it has given us a glimmer of hope that L.i.f.e. won't completely be that "odd" after all. If this app finally takes off, this might give them an idea that the fans want actual Tamagotchi toys and *not* lifestyle products.
The Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. app is available for a free ad-supported version and a paid version at 99 cents at the Google Play Store.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars