What Exactly Are Tamagotchis—and Why Are People So Hyped About Them?

You've probably heard that Tamagotchis are making their big comeback this year, but unless you were born in the last millennium, you probably never actually played with one yourself.

So what's the hype all about? In the mid '90s, before there were mobile games, Tamagotchis ruled supreme as the ultimate virtual pet.

The game existed on the screen of a flat, egg-like plastic contraption with three buttons and keychain on top. Tamagotchis appeared as black lines on a grey screen without a backlight, so it wasn't possible to see the screen in the dark. The plastic came in all kinds of colors and styles (including coveted transparent models), but the game was really about the creatures themselves.

A Tamagotchi's life begins when it hatches from an egg. Once hatched they go through standard baby and child forms, but after that, their evolution depends on how the player treats them, branching into various looks and styles based on the level of care.

If you take poor care of your Tamagotchi, it ends up looking a lot different from one you cared for properly. Overall, there are 11 different Tamagotchi types in the original game.

Taking good care of a Tamagotchi is a lot like taking care of a pet. For one, you have to keep it fed and happy. Feeding it bread will make it healthy while feeding it candy will make it happy while making it gain weight and get sick faster.

To increase its happiness the healthy way, you have to play with it. In one game, you try to guess whether your creature would face left or right. In another, you guess whether a number your Tamagotchi picked is higher or lower than the number on the screen.

You can also scold Tamagotchis who fuss for no reason—or not. Deciding whether you're going to discipline them has a big impact on the form they take next.

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At night, it's also important to turn the lights off when it's time for your Tamagotchi to go to bed. They also use the bathroom, and flushing the poop away ASAP is critical because leaving it there will make them sick.

They can get sick in other ways, too, but in most cases, medicine will cure them right up. Too many snacks will make them ill, but they also get sick right before they evolve, when they're old or when they're about to die.

Did we mention that Tamagotchis can die? If you leave Tamagotchis sick for too long or make a lot of mistakes caring for them, they can pass away. If your Tamagotchi is a baby, you'll have to reset and start all over, but if it's grown up, it can lay a new egg, and once it hatches you can start the raising process all over again.

The tough thing about Tamagotchis is that there's no pause button, meaning you have to be on top of things from the time the Tamagotchi wakes up in the morning to the time it goes to sleep at night. That means it needs you during school hours—and you really shouldn't be playing with it instead of paying attention in class.

We think they'd make a great mobile game, but until they do, we're still excited to get our hands on a Tamagotchi once they're out and do our very best to keep it alive for more than a day.


If you're curious about Tamagotchis, we bet you'll also love Neko Atsume. Click HERE to find out about the VR version that's in the works.