Have you ever been annoyed with yourself for rushing out to buy something, knowing there’s an inevitable update around the corner? You might have done it with a smartphone or gadget before; get the older model before the new one comes, only to find that the new version is faster and doesn’t eat up battery in a matter of hours.
I’m having that experience with the Tamagotchi Pix Party. It’s the second generation of the Tamagotchi Pix I reviewed last summer—and it’s so much better. Bandai has improved the programming on this particular model so that the touch buttons are more responsive and the game isn’t such a drain on the two AAA batteries powering it. The addition of the “party” element also adds to the replayability versus its predecessor, which has been sitting in a box since I reviewed it. If you’re looking for a color Tamagotchi now, this is the one to get.
If you’re reading this unaware of the Tamagotchi coverage we’ve done before at Gizmodo, let me point you to some of the stories we’ve written over the past year: Tamagotchi is still a thriving toy, with a passionate community dedicated to collecting and caring for these virtual pets. There are still traditional Tamagotchi based on the original version of the software available in various colors and patterns. If you ascribe to a particular fandom—Star Wars, Hello Kitty, BTS—you can buy a branded Tamagotchi that’s nano-sized and features an abridged version of the game.
I’d also like to disclose that this is the first Tamagotchi variant I did not purchase myself. Bandai sent me this one for review and gave me permission to post about it on social media, which I did to gauge interest from the public.
The color versions of Tamagotchi remain a niche variety, despite the many models released in the U.S. and overseas. But what’s interesting to note is that the Tamagotchi Pix series, which includes the Pix and Pix Party, is not available in Japan.
The Tamagotchi Pix and Pix Party’s main allure are that they’re currently the only models with a camera—albeit a meager one, reminiscent of the camera phone you might’ve had back in 2005. You can squeeze the device’s top button to activate it, and then again to take a photo or screenshot. The idea is to take snapshots, effectively shoring up a photo album of mementos of your time with a particular Tama. You can also use the camera to scan QR codes for food, items, and playdates with other Tamagotchi.
The gameplay between the Tamagotchi Pix and Pix Party is essentially the same: you start with an egg, it hatches, and then it’s time to raise your new digital pet. You take care of their basic needs, feed and bathe them, and perform other tasks to figure out what they love. Then when they become adults, you help train them with skills for the real (virtual) world.
At the end of your game—when you’ve successfully trained your Tama and cared for it through adulthood—they’ll ask you to pick out three photos exemplifying their stay in the digital egg. Then, they’ll make the scrapbook, get in the spaceship, and fly back to their home planet.
That’s the story arc of each new Tama you care for in the Tamagotchi Pix and Pix Party. But the slight difference in software and hardware tweaks, plus the “party” feature of the Pix Party, make the latter one feel complete compared to the original release.
The Tamagotchi Pix Party includes three new games, a variety of new items, plus a new location where you can host your Tamagotchi party. To plan a party, navigate to the option in the menu. The Pix Party will ask if you want to invite people over or attend a gathering on another device. If you choose the latter, the Tamagotchi Pix Party will convert your Tama into a QR code for the other device to scan them in. If not, then you can invite other Tamagotchi over, which allows for but doesn’t require interaction with anyone else.
Once you choose to host, the Pix Party will ask you if you want to scan in a QR code from another Tamagotchi. It’s optional, but even if you decline, you’ll have to invite “guests” from your favorites list. The list features characters you’ve met at the park and elsewhere in the game. It also includes any Tamas with whom you have had playdates in the past.
After you’ve decided on the guest list, the invites will go out, and the Tama will immediately ring your doorbell. One by one, they’ll come strolling in without bringing anything to share with the rest of the crowd. It’s up to you to provide the libations, the snacks, and the entertainment.
To help your Tamagotchi party, press the A button to bring up a menu. You’ll be able to cook for the characters in attendance, snap a photo together, and play one of three games. The games include Bingo and a Dance Dance Revolution-like DJ game where you can swipe left and right on the touch buttons to spin tunes. There’s also a gift exchange game for each party that lets you get rid of an item in your inventory, with the possibility of swapping it out for something new you can interact with or place in the background of your Tamagotchi’s room.
I’m bummed the DJ option doesn’t seem to come up with every party I set up. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had playing a Tamagotchi mini-game—a close second to the Japanese Tamagotchi iD L’s sidescrolling adventure, which I’ve ranked as my number one favorite of all the releases I’ve owned. The games within the Tamagotchi game can feel repetitive, as if they merely exist to farm Gotchi points.
Suppose you don’t have in-person friends and want to set up a party with characters outside the initial programming. In that case, you can usually find other Tamagotchi players sharing QR codes through places like Discord and Reddit to keep the roster feeling fresh. The other nice thing about the Tamagotchi Pix Party is that it’s backward compatible with the original Pix, so you can invite a friend to dance along from the last generation egg.
When I initially reviewed the Tamagotchi Pix last summer, I liked the gameplay and the built-in camera capabilities. But soon after the review was published, I realized there was no way I would buy a batch of batteries for each month I wanted to run this Tama. The original Tamagotchi Pix eats through two AAA batteries a week. I revived it for a short time to test it alongside the Pix Party, and it petered out after five days on a fresh pack of Duracells.
The Tamagotchi Pix Party fares much better with its energy use, though it’s still a battery muncher. I managed a full two weeks before the Pix Party needed a new set of alkaline batteries, and that was with continual use of the camera to scan QR codes I found online.
I wish that Bandai included a battery meter on the Tamagotchi Pix Party, as it did on the Japanese release of the Tamagotchi Smart (which is rechargeable by MicroUSB). At the very least, when the battery is low, the game will pause until you can swap in a new pair.
The touch buttons on the Tamagotchi Pix Party buttons aren’t as fussy to use as on the last generation Pix. I tried to go back to that one while testing the Pix Party so that I could compare the two in real-time. I still have to hold the Pix in a certain way, ensuring my fingers aren’t lingering too hard on one side to make the system think it’s receiving input. It makes it hard to play any of the built-in games on the Pix, which makes me less inclined to grind.
The Pix Party isn’t without its faults. It suffers from some touch sensitivity like its predecessor, though I only ran into it once in a while rather than every time I used it. It’s clear Bandai did some tweaking to the software and hardware. That alone is why I would encourage you not to buy the first-generation Pix, even if you find it on sale.
I’m starting week five with the Tamagotchi Pix Party as I finish this review. The gameplay feels much more dynamic than in the last release, not to mention there are more fan-made guides this time to help me figure out each Tamagotchi’s favorite item and type of clothing.
However, Bandai’s follow-up release of the Tamagotchi Pix Party lands slightly differently than some of its previous releases. The point of this virtual pet is to collect as many versions as you can and have them integrate and swap with one another. As a collector, I’m happy to have the Tamagotchi Pix in my repertoire. But as a player, I’m not sure that it’s the one I’ll go to when I’m feeling nostalgic for this series of Tamagotchi with cameras. I prefer the Pix Party instead.