Hi. Kei here. I want to tell you a story.
Let’s go back in time. To 1997, or maybe 1998. I was a 90s kid, that’s for sure.
I was playing outside with my friends – real ones, and digital ones. Back then, I was toting 2 Tamagotchis around. I tell a lie – only one of them was a proper branded Tamagotchi. The other was a different brand of virtual pet, but I really wanted it. (Kids are shallow.)
We were playing some kind of ball game. The ball went flying. I stretched my hands out to try and catch it…
…and my fake ‘gotchi fell onto the ground. With a crack that sounded like my heart breaking.
The screen went blank. The weird pixel thing I’d spent weeks trying to ‘evolve’ was gone. And I couldn’t get it back. I was screaming “IT’S DEAD IT’S DEAD I KILLED IT.” I wonder if the neighbours thought about calling the police.
The not-quite-Tamagotchi virtual pets didn’t stand the test of time. They weren’t made to survive a long fall onto tarmac. They weren’t made to survive, period. The original, authentic Tamagotchi still lives. And you can buy one online right now, if you want.
‘Tamagotchi’ is a weird word. The ‘tamago’ bit is definitely the Japanese word for ‘egg’. The ‘tchi’ probably comes from ‘tomodachi’, which means ‘friends’. Egg friends. Sounds legit. BUT Bandai’s also said that the ‘tchi’ is from ‘watch’. ‘Egg watch’.
It’s not as catchy as Youkai Watch, gotta be honest.
The first-generation Tamagotchi came out in 1996, and it was a massive hit. Think that’s an exaggeration? By 2010, the official global sales figure hit 76 million. The very first release in Japan sold out in 2 days. By the time the hype peaked in America and Canada, 15 Tamagotchis were bought every minute.
Well, that was unexpected. Bandai underestimated the Tamagotchi’s overnight popularity by millions. As a result, some of them are very rare.
It’s like virtual edutainment!
Keeping a ‘gotchi happy is important. The amount of love and care they get affects what they evolve into.
With early versions, ‘care mistakes’ meant you weren’t such a great owner. You had to keep those happiness meters high, and those hunger levels low. Forgetting to turn the lights off when your Tamagotchi fell asleep was unforgivable.
Tamagotchis can get sick, run away from home, or even die. In some versions, they can be attacked (and fatally wounded) by predators. If you’re not paying attention at the time, they can’t be saved.
What a way to teach kids about pet ownership! English-language editions toned the death scenes down, but we knew what was going on.
Generations of ‘gotchis for new generations
In Europe, America, and elsewhere, once the initial excitement of virtual pets wore off we moved on to the next new fad. Kids these days have no idea what a Tamagotchi is. We left it behind.
Japan did no such thing. Japan’s been happily making new Tamagotchi generations this whole time.
Including all of these:
- Tamagotchi 4U (and 4U+)
- Tamagotchi P’s
- Tamagotchi m!x
- Tamagotchi Connection (with Deco-ratchi sticker/case kits)
- Tamagotchi iD
- Tamagotchi Mini
- Tamagotchi Angel
There are so many more we didn’t name. Gotta be somewhere close to 60 different types by now.
The Tamagotchi universe also includes a smartphone app, videogames, and a board game. None of them can ever totally recreate the feeling of pushing buttons on a small plastic egg. Fans clearly agreed, because the L.I.F.E. app was removed from app stores in 2014.
Long time, no see, old friend
Bandai ‘relaunched’ the Tamagotchi and Tamagotchi Mini in 2004 – then did it again earlier this year for anniversary celebrations. The ‘Kaettekita!’ (it came back!) versions have the same designs as the original 1996 Tamagotchis. And the Mini ones are 20% smaller.
Some ‘gotchi models were Japan-exclusive and only produced in limited numbers. Such as… the Christmas-themed Santaclautch (Santagotchi). It was made in 3 festive designs: green, red, and white. Ho ho ho.
One of the newest types is the Tamagotchi m!x, in colourful versions like Spacy and Melody. Every new ‘gotchi baby has a mix of features from both parents. And there are a lot of possible evolutions to blend together.
Every different m!x device has 27 potential Tamagotchi characters. Some are shared, some are only on Melody or Spacy versions. After a couple of generations, they start to look a bit weird.
Get your hands on a ‘gotchi
Mix new with nostalgia – catch up on the latest Tamagotchi generations.