Bandai Namco's upcoming My Tamagotchi Forever game for Android currently exists as a soft-launch title on the Google Play Store that is only available to those that live in Canada. The marketing behind this game seems to point towards a 20-year revival of the famous handheld digital pet game for modern times. But has Bandai Namco succeeded in making a proper reimagining of the franchise, or is this more of the same free-to-play junk we are all used to seeing?
After spending some time with the soft-launch version of My Tamagotchi Forever, I can't say that I am that impressed. The first thing to note is that I am probably not the target demographic for this game. Sure I may have dabbled in the digital pet arena in my youth, but I can't say that much my time nowadays is expended on raising digital pets on my phone or tablet. Well, that is until today of course.
My first takeaway is that My Tamagotchi Forever is a pleasant looking game with cute kid-friendly graphics and a smooth framerate. The developers have done a great job with the overall presentation and performance. It is still reminiscent of the original handheld games, but with enough polish to bring it to the modern age. I honestly have nothing to complain about here.
But that is where my enjoyment pretty much ended. Once you dive into the mechanics of My Tamagotchi Forever, you will quickly see how it is balanced against your better efforts in order to annoy you into purchasing Diamonds, the game's secondary currency that is on its own pretty difficult to earn unless you purchase it through in-app purchases. IAPs that just so happen to range all the way up to $99.99 per item.
The first significant irritation I ran into is that your Tamagotchi must sleep. Now I know what you are thinking, this was already a primary mechanic in the original game. But the thing is, the sleep meter in My Tamagotchi Forever will wind down quickly, a little too quickly in my opinion. This means that more than anything you will constantly have to juggle how much your digital pet has slept, which is of course directly tied to a wait timer. The next problem with this scenario is that the amount you must wait is never once revealed to you. On top of that, you can't perform any other actions in the game while your pet is sleeping. But hey, there is, of course, an easy way to get around this sleep timer issue, simply pay for some of those optional Diamonds I mentioned in order to fill up that sleep meter, and then you can jump back into the gameplay posthaste.
Besides the sleep meter, there is also a hunger meter, an entertainment meter, and a bathroom meter. The hunger meter is refilled by feeding your Tamagotchi food purchased with the game's primary currency of Coins. Each Tamagotchi has a couple of favorite types of food, so you must pay attention to what you feed it or else it will get mad. The entertainment meter is filled by playing through a few of the included mini-games, or by simply petting your digital pet. And last but not least there is the bathroom meter. This is where things get weird. As you place your Tamagotchi on the toilet, you must poke it in order to get it to go to the bathroom. For a child, this may seem innocuous, but for me, it just seemed like an odd way to go about gamifying a bathroom trip. This bathroom also pulls double duty as an area to wash up, which you will have to use from time to time to clean your pet, as they do get dirty rather quickly. In order to wash the Tamagotchi, you just drop them in the tub, soap them up, and then rinse them off.
When you are not dealing with the minutia of your pets sleep, hunger, cleanliness, or bathroom breaks you have the ability to snap photos while your Tamagotchi is playing with a myriad of toys and playground equipment. This equipment is directly tied to the better rewards in the game. That means you have to purchase the needed equipment with some of your Coins.
These Coins are earned mainly through completing objectives or playing through the 3 minigames available in the entertainment section of the menu. Each mini-game has a different theme. The first is a match 3 puzzler. The next plays much like a simple platformer that asks you to guide an astronaut from planet to planet. And the third is a musical game that tasks you with tapping on notes as they descend down your screen. These are all overly simplistic games, but I suppose they are still a sight better than the mini-games included in the original Tamagotchi handheld toy. The thing is, you don't earn a lot of Coins in these games. This means you have to play them quite a bit if you want to earn enough scratch to purchase that next piece of playground equipment that is holding you back from completing your next objective.
And that's really all there is to see here. The experience isn't deep by any stretch of the term. I suppose if you plan on playing passively, a little each day, then you may not run into the sleep and currency issues as often as I do. My Tamagotchi Forever surely isn't the worst free-to-play offender on the Play Store, so I can see why some people may find its gameplay enjoyable. But for me, the pacing is ultimately too slow thanks to how it pushes you to spend money on IAPs to speed it up to a standard level. Luckily, there is still a classic Tamagotchi game available on the Play Store that offers everything that made the original toy so great. So there is no real need to denigrate My Tamagotchi Forever endlessly when better options already exist.