Kids of the ‘90s, get ready to relive all those delicious pangs of guilt and self-loathing you felt for not trying harder to do right by your virtual pet. Bandai America just announced it’s bringing vintage versions of its zeitgeist-crashing Tamagotchi electronic pet back for a whole new generation (or perhaps just for those of us deadbeat 1990s pet owners who’ve been pining for a second chance).
Much in the same way that Tickle Me Elmo and Furby had their hot fad moments back in the day, the low-fi, hand-held Tamagotchi “pet” toys — battery-powered dongles with monochrome LCD screens that apprised their owners of their virtual pet’s health — took the toy world by storm in 1997, enthralling kids and adults alike with their need for attention and the very real threat that, deprived of it, they could die.
Bandai reintroduced the toys in an initial marketing push last year, and evidently so many people signed up for the first wave of virtual adoption (or maybe they just failed to keep their pets alive) that the company is doubling down, expanding its plastic pet menagerie in ambitious fashion.
In addition to eight all-new designs, the toys are gearing up to pull at our nostalgic heartstrings with a re-release of eight vintage colors. The new lines will roll out in two “generations” — Bandai’s term to remind us these are living, breathing, dependently fragile pieces of solid-state circuitry — and they’ll “feature the same original programming” as the originals, which means they’ll be just as finicky and delicate as you remember.
For the uninitiated, the toys are programmed to need all kinds of constant attention and care, which owners input via three buttons on their front panels. You’ve gotta feed ‘em, clean up their messes, scold them when they stray, and get them the medical attention they need and deserve whenever they fall ill.
The goal, of course, is to raise them into adulthood, where your reward is to watch them die of old age, instead of witnessing the premature fruits of your dereliction as they perish early, abandoned under a car seat or storm-tossed in the forgotten depths of a backpack.
The first generation of new Tamagotchi goes on pre-sale through the Bandai website and select stores beginning Sept. 30, with each device retailing for $19.99. It’s a small price to pay for the chance to redeem yourself to all those sad-faced ghosts of your 1990s Tamagotchi failures.