Tuesday, April 26, 2011

OM21: Tamatown Tama-Go Review

I've finally managed to grab the new Tamatown Tama-Go toy! The Wave 2 collection has begun to appear at Target, oddly only $10, compared to the Wave 1 set that was $20. To go along with this, I also bought a Sebiretchi Gotchi Figure.

Please note: I'm reviewing the toy on its own, without the inclusion of the PC compatibility.

This Tamagotchi manages to be bigger than the others of the previous line and yet somehow feel lighter. It's made to an identical shape of the Tamagotchi iD from Japan, with the exception of the top portion having a section to insert the figures. There's an FCC warning label on the side of the shell, which is unusual; there's never been a warning that large on a Tamagotchi toy before. Usually there's just a warning symbol of a garbage can with an X over it.

One thing I do enjoy is that the top, clear plastic portion of the screen can be removed, and the decal on the inside can be removed or replaced at will. You can even flip it over to the white side and decorate it if you'd like. Decals are sold alongside the Gotchi figures, and each one is different. Collect them all, I guess? Another thing I absolutely love is the new buttons. Like the Tamagotchi Plus Color, the buttons are now made of hard plastic, which is a huge step up from the older, rubber buttons included in the older toys.

The biggest disappointment so far is that the toy runs on two AAA batteries, but they're not included. The Japanese Color, iD, and iD L all come with those same batteries, so why not the English variation? Disappointing, Bandai.

Growth Cycle
This is one of my biggest complaints about the toy: the growth cycle is far too short. It takes one hour for the baby to become a toddler, and a day for it become a teen. But then, it takes only one day for the teen to become an adult. Negating the 24 hours spent sleeping, that means only 24 hours are used to determine what adult character you get. Even the Music Star gave the teen stage an extended period, so why is the growth so quick this time around?

The growth chart:

It's nice to see some old favorites returning alongside new ones - plus an American toy FINALLY gets to see Necktietchi - but I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't like the inclusion of ChaMametchi and Kikitchi as adult characters. It's really creepy, especially since the Tama-Go can connect to the Music Star and V5 series, which include those characters as teens. It's even worse this time around with including Ringotchi and Nonopotchi as adults. Please, Bandai; just because a character is popular doesn't mean you should push their age up so kids can see them more often. They should stick to being teens.

Games, Food, Items, House Redecorating
I'm putting these three under one category since Bandai has as well. You'll see what I mean in a moment.

The Tama-Go includes a new type of screen that allows different shades of the pixels, which means there can now be backgrounds for your Tamagotchi. The background is different every time you reset the toy, and you can remodel your home by clicking the "Play" icon and selecting "Remodel". It's a nice feature, but it's limited, as you'll soon see...

Meanwhile, the shop feature is very disappointing. As in previous toys, you can only view up to four different items at a time, but this time around, you can only buy food. Food and home renovations. That's all you're allowed to buy. But the Tama-Go does have items...

Meanwhile, there are two games that your Tama-Go can access from the Game Center. One is "Shoot the Bug" and the other is "Long Jumper". One involves riding a little space ship and shooting little bugs that crawl toward you, and the other entails your Tamagotchi running down a line and trying to jump across gaps. Both games are bland and boring.

So how are all three of these problems resolved? The Gotchi figures.

Top: Variations that come with the toy. Bottom: the ones sold separately.

Once you connect a Gotchi figure to your toy and access it from the menu, special features are given to you. For the ones provided with the toy, it's just one extra game. For the one sold separately in stores, they provide one or more games and different foods (and, for some, items). It's a cute and innocent feature at best and a money-making scheme at worst. No Tamagotchi before this one needed to have in-game items available as a separate purchase. Why this one? I purchased the Sebiretchi figure and it only game with two new games. The Mexican food items it included couldn't be added to the Tamagotchi's inventory; they could only be bought and eaten right that second.

Also, the Tama-Go keeps track of how many figures you connect to it. I'm not sure what happens after you connect them all. Is there some sort of reward? If you tried, let me know in the comments!

"Friendship" and Death
This Tamagotchi takes a radical new look on the concept of how to kill your virtual pet. Your Tamagotchi pretty much no longer has to worry about food. If his or her hearts are empty for too long, they will literally feed them themselves. In all previous versions, not feeding your Tamagotchi or making it happy would give you a "care mistake", a hidden counter inside your Tamagotchi that determines how soon your Tamagotchi will die, and accumulating too many will make your pet pass away.

On this toy, however, your primary concern is your Tamagotchi's level of "Friendship". If THAT gets to zero hearts for too long, your Tamagotchi will get fed up, pack its bags, and leave. It doesn't die anymore. It just leaves. So essentially, the only way to end your Tamagotchi's life cycle is to be a huge jerk.

I don't mind this feature; I think it's pretty creative. But why completely rule out death? That was the Tamagotchi's main grab back in the 90s: if you were a poor caretaker, it would die. People literally cried over digital, plastic eggs, and online graveyards were erected so people can memorialize their lost Mametchis and Kuchipatchis.

You think losing a Tamagotchi is bad today? Try hearing their last heartbeats.

It's really upsetting that with every generation, Bandai keeps trying to sugarcoat the concept of death for Tamagotchi, when the entire point of the toy is to prolong the pet's life until the inevitable. Bandai, if you're listening, please reconsider how you approach this subject in future toys.

Final Views

This toy is just...okay.

Don't get me wrong. I've loved Tamagotchi ever since they first made landfall in the United States far back in 1997. I've enjoyed Tamagotchi toys old and new. But this one doesn't feel like a proper Tamagotchi to me. Caring for this toy is far too simplistic, and the features that should naturally be included are instead exported into $4 mini-figures.

Despite that, they're very basic and fun, and the new house remodeling feature is a very nice touch. We might never get a color-screen toy, but this comes pretty close. The character choice is surprising and pleasing, and the animations are adorable to boot.

If you can afford the toy and the additional figures, go ahead and pick them up. But if you want a toy on its own, I'm not sure this is the right Tamagotchi for you.

~ OsuMesu21


Anonymous said...

I have a question.
Are there two different Tama-Go? One where you can do more or other things, even compared to the other?

Wolf Nanaki said...

Anonymous: Nope.

MeowMeowMeow said...

Everyone says that the tama-go has 2 games that come with the toy, but it has 3 because it comes with a additional figure. -__-

Tyke5399 said...

Thats AWESOME i love tama-go but i broke mine to a glitch O_O

Anonymous said...

]They call housekeeping and tell them to put their bags on the spaceship and housekeeping yells at you for being an ass.

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kei said...

i have a question.

my tama-go sells me the 4 same wallpapers everyday everytime!

i'm disappointed...

would you tell me how to get a new remodelling wallpapers like "beach" or "prison" that i saw on other fan site.

Anonymous said...

wait: where did jesmond go!?

Anonymous said...

where is jesmond? when are you going to make more posts?

NCL said...

Nice blog! I really think that the reason that death gets more sugar-coated each time is because the targeted age for Tamagotchi marketing keeps getting lowered. When Tamagotchi first came out it was going to be marketed to high school girls but it became popular with all ages. With each new release the target age has been lowered which is very sad but it is happening with ALL toys now because the age which children stop playing with them is earlier and earlier each year. :( For example when I was a kid and My Little Ponies first came out they were for ages 5-12 and now several years ago they changed the age from 2-3. (they were in the baby aisle for a while but thankfully now the age was raised some since the new cartoon is very popular)

Hopefully someday Tamagotchi will have a popularity revival!

GotchiGirl said...

Oooh, poor Jesmond... If you live in the US, in NYC, Bandai were literally GIVING AWAY Tama-Gos! 20 bucks....Splat.

Tamagoctchi said...

Beautiful work, I love your post regarding Tamagotchi virtual pet. I just ordered this at PIJ & I hope I will get this one in a week. Its really charming.