Disney and Vodafone have teamed up to launch Neo, a smartwatch for kids that features some iconic Disney characters, like Minnie Mouse, Elsa, and Buzz Lightyear. But the watch’s biggest headliner is none other than Grogu. You know, The Child? Baby Yoda! Grogu’s appearance on the watch basically makes it a fancier version of a ‘90s-era Tamagotchi or Giga Pet, SlashGear suggested—the pocket-sized virtual pets that were so much trouble to keep alive for more than a week.
Watching Grogu spring to life throughout the day would be cute and adorable, but kids today will have no idea the soul-crushing experience it was to take care of Yoda back in my day.
In the ‘90s, I owned a Yoda Giga Pet. My friends and I would change the time on our virtual pets so they’d sleep during the day. If I didn’t, I’d have to take care of Yoda and attend his Jedi training lessons while trying to learn long division and risk the Giga Pet being confiscated to my teacher’s dreaded drawer of kid contraband. Ignoring Yoda was a bad choice. I’m a full-grown adult now, and I’m still scarred from the first time Yoda abandoned me for ignoring him.
That’s right. If you didn’t feed Yoda or clean his hut enough, if you failed too many of his Jedi tests or didn’t do enough of them, he would straight up leave you because you disappointed him to the point of disgust. You’d check in on him one day and discover he was gone. No more Jedi lessons. No more quirky, anastrophe dialogue. Just GAME OVER flashing across the screen after Yoda says, “You have no patience!” Oh, sure, you could restart the game and try again, seeing how long you could make Yoda stay around (for the thousandth time), but no matter what you did, it was never enough. He’d always abandon you. Even the instructions said Yoda would “dismiss you as his apprentice” if your score dropped to zero.
Maybe I was doing something wrong—after all, the Jedi tests were kind of hard for a small child. During one of them, Yoda would show you a shape, usually a circle, square, or triangle, and there would be a covered shape next to it. Based on what shape he showed you, you’d have to guess what other shape was under the covered square. You were supposed to “use the force” to see through the cover. I’m sure there was a pattern to it, but I was a kid. I didn’t understand. You’d think Yoda would help me, explain it to me. Nope. Yoda was meaner than my former science teacher, who told me I’d never be a CSI because I failed a chemistry test.
I had other Giga Pets and Nano Pets, but none as significant as Yoda. I would rather my virtual monkey or cat die over and over again rather than risk Yoda abandoning me because I wasn’t the Jedi he thought I was. You know what kind of lasting effect that has on a child? I’m clearly still traumatized.
Maybe it’s a good thing kids who use the Neo smartwatch will have a happy, sweet Grogu on their wrist rather than a mean, punishing Yoda. I gave my other virtual pets a good life. They were happy! They usually died of old age. What did I give Yoda? Sadness and frustration. Kids today have enough to deal with. They don’t need to experience the defeat that comes with letting Yoda down.