There tends to be a trend among Tamagotchi toys. Each one seems to have a different focus that shows the evolution of the product line. The original Tamagotchi was notable simply for existing. It was the first virtual pet. Tamagotchi Angel took place after a character had died, following them into the afterlife and reassuring younger players that it was okay if they “lost” the main game ten times in a row. Tamagotchi Connection allowed two users’ characters to interact and perhaps even breed. The newer models, after 4U, even have NFC technology for connections and additional content.
Which brings us to Tamagotchi Friends, the latest variation of the virtual pet. Available in 2014 as Tamagotchi Friends in Toys R Us and in 2015 as Tamagotchi Friends: Dream Town in Hot Topic, the newest installments highlight three very different shifts in the series’ focus.
The first relates to the target audience. Tamagotchis were originally gender neutral toys. The cases for the were released in an assortment of colors. The characters available ranged from cute, to cool, to could this be some sort of mutant. The Tamagotchi Friends line focuses on adorable avatars that would appeal primarily to women with casings in exceedingly feminine and poppy designs. Most of the teenage and mature versions have big eyes, fashionable hairdos and even pastel color schemes in official art. Icons like Kuchipatchi, Mametchi and Memechi remain, but they’re outnumbered by the likes of Kiraritchi, Yumemitchi, Pianitchi, Himespetchi, Coffretchi and Julietchi. (I swear to you, I am not making these names up. There would be a Pikapokapatchi in there if that were the case.)
Which brings us to the second change. Tamagotchi Friends is a personality-driven pet. The reason for this being many of the characters starred in the anime series Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream, Tamagotchi! Miracle Friends and Go-Go Tamagotchi!. To attract viewers, the characters were made as pretty as possible. People are going to have favorites, so naturally all merchandise would center around them and offering the opportunity to unlock the ones you love the most.
This means the Tamagotchi series has become a less personal experience. One of the joys of the Tamagotchi Connection series onward was the ability of responsible caretakers to found a dynasty of creatures. Each new one addition could be named. These were your pets. Sure, there were official names, but those didn’t matter. One might even consider them a species, rather than a specific character.
From Tamagotchi Friends on, each pet is referred to by their official name on the status screen. My current creature, Flower Monkey, will only be known as such in my heart. Her status screen only says Neotchi. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does mean players are better informed as to what exactly the thing on screen is. At the same time, it takes away the fun of imagining such a personality as uniquely yours.
It’s a natural progression and good business for Bandai. The company’s goal is to move as many virtual pets as possible. Making them appealing is critical. Focusing on iconic images that are pleasing to the eye sells. The result may change the simulation slightly, but a shift in focus doesn’t tarnish the experience. It just makes for something more saccharine and to keep in mind should someone get nostalgic and search for a new virtual timesink.
Image Source: Tamagotchi Wiki