If you're old enough to remember the hungry, pooping, simultaneously endearing and annoying Tamagotchi toys of the mid-1990s, you're in luck. Bandai plans to let you live those memories all over again when it relaunches its virtual pet line for an increasingly mobile world.
Bandai and Sync Beatz Entertainment announced on Thursday, Feb. 14 that a new app called "Tamagotchi L.i.f.e." (Love Is Fun Everywhere) is hitting Android and iOS devices. The app is available for free, although there will also be another, ad-free one that costs 99 cents.
"Tamagotchi L.i.f.e." is already available on Google Play, just in time to celebrate the game's "Sweet 16" anniversary. Those with Android phones or tablets can pick it up now, but iOS owners will have to wait a little longer. Bandai has confirmed the program will be up on the App Store soon.
"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, to the Associated Press. "As we move along, every two months, we'll refresh the app, and it will evolve."
The mobile app currently has two different modes. The first will be similar to anyone who's even seen a Tamagotchi, as it recreates the physical eggshell model on the touch screen, even down to the traditional button placement. The second mode, meanwhile, employs a new visual style and is focused on the smartphone's touch capabilities. In addition to feeding the critter, playing with it and cleaning up its poop, users will be able to engage their pets in a game of rock, paper, scissors.
Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of social media, Bandai will allow players to share their pets online through Facebook. Unlockable extras include new wallpapers, shell designs and stars as achievements for quality care.
"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."
According to the AP, plans are also afoot to expand the Tamagotchi brand beyond mobile apps and into clothing and accessories.