LOS ANGELES (AP) Tamagotchi is re-hatching as an app.
Bandai America Inc. and Sync Beatz Entertainment are hoping to revive
the electronic pet craze of the 1990s with a new mobile app launching
Thursday for Android devices. The app duplicates the egg-shaped plastic
toy that became a must-own sensation like Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo
and Furby after it was first released in 1996 in Japan.
Sync Beatz, which has licensed Tamagotchi from Bandai, is calling the
app “Tamagotchi L.i.f.e.” — with “L.i.f.e” standing for “love is fun
everywhere.” Much like the original doodad, the app tasks users with
taking care of a virtual pet by pressing buttons that simulate feeding,
disciplining and playing with the critter on screen. If a Tamagotchi is
neglected, it dies.
“The idea was to base the gameplay on the original Tamagotchi that
everyone knows and loves,” said Shin Ueno, chief marketing officer at
Sync Beatz. “As we move along, every two months, we'll refresh the app,
and it will evolve.”
The colorful app, which Ueno said will later be available for Apple
devices, features unlockable characters, backgrounds and shells. It's
split between two modes: an old-school one that works like the original —
right down to three buttons on the shell — and an app mode that
utilizes the touchscreen and allows users to play rock, paper, scissors
with their pets.
The “Tamagotchi L.i.f.e.” app is free, and a version without ads costs
99 cents. While there have been a few Tamagotchi clones available for
mobile devices, this marks the first official Tamagotchi app to come
from Bandai, which has released updated versions of the toy since the
first Tamagotchi hatched 16 years ago.
Sales of the toy have cracked the 78 million mark, and Tamagotchi paved
the way for such virtual obsessions as “The Sims,” ''FarmVille” and
“Skylanders.” The executives at Sync Beatz think Tamagotchi's “sweet 16”
is the prime time to relaunch Tamagotchi for nostalgic twenty- and
thirtysomethings, as well as a new generation.
“It's like comfort food,” said Barry Stagg, chief communications officer
at Sync Beatz. “I think Tamagotchi brings back good memories. When we
were at the Licensing Expo last year, the first thing that people who
came up to us and saw what we were doing tended to do was smile. I think
there's an openness to build on Tamagotchi's brand equity.”
That means Sync Beatz plans to leverage “Tamagotchi L.i.f.e.” as more
than simply a sentimental app. The company plans to launch a “Tamagotchi
L.i.f.e.” product line later this year with clothing, furnishings and
accessories slathered with Tamagotchi imagery.