If you’ve read Gizmodo dot com in the past month, you know about Tamagotchi. You know that there are different variants available to collect worldwide, and you know that there’s a thriving community of fans that keep Tamagotchi alive even decades later. Tamagotchi is so popular that Bandai has sold more than 83 million units as of March 2021. It’s why the company keeps reinventing the virtual pet, with the next one arriving in wearable form.
Bandai Namco, the parent company behind the Tamagotchi of both past and present, just announced it’s launching the Tamagotchi Smart. It’s an incredibly cute smartwatch, covered in a pink or teal pastel-colored silicone with a matching band that I certainly hope will fit an adult wrist. The Tamagotchi Smart will have smartwatch-like functions, including a pedometer and voice controls. (We’re not talking Google Assistant here, though. More on that later.) It also has touch controls like the Tamagotchi Pix, another next-generation model currently rolling out in Spain and launching next month in the U.S. You’ll be able to tickle and pet your Tama and offer it a real sense of security.
We have a glimpse into how the Tamagotchi Smart will function thanks to the official FAQ. The Tamagotchi smartwatch won’t be backward-compatible with other Tamagotchi devices, which makes sense considering the Tamagotchi Meets/On uses Bluetooth, and the new Pix utilizes QR codes. The Tamagotchi Smart uses TamaSma Cards, which Bandai will sell separately. They’re tiny plastic keys with chips on them that will include exclusive items and characters that you can download onto the smartwatch. The TamaSma Cards are similar to the concept of the Tamagotchi P’s “pieces,” which you could swap to unlock new content. (I am still trying to track one of these down on eBay for a reasonable price.)
The voice command functionality on the Tamagotchi Smart is not at all sophisticated. It’s a way for you to call out to the Tamagotchi and respond when it chirps back. The FAQ page is careful to note that “there is no voice recognition function that recognizes the words themselves.” According to Vice, there will be a feature called “Power Up,” which lets users record conversations with their pets in hopes of fostering deep and meaningful connections.
As with most of the color Tamagotchi models, there is cooperative play available so you can play games and sync up with friends.
Tamagotchi’s pivot to smartwatch was an inevitability considering the success of the Digimon Vital Bracelet series, a similar type of pedometer watch set within a different franchise. It’s also the 25th anniversary of Tamagotchi’s release, making it a fitting time for Bandai to launch a maelstrom of toys for collectors and the curious alike.
The Tamagotchi Smart will be available in Japan to start, though that’s never stopped anyone from making an international retail account. Shipping is available from the Bandai Namco store. Each Tamagotchi Smart is about $68 when converted from yen, with the TamaSma Cards retailing for about $10 each. The official launch date is Nov. 23, though you’ll have to enter a lottery between June 17 and July 2 to buy the device.