Tamagotchi (たまごっち) is the original franchise of Tamagotchi virtual pets. The first model was released in 1996 and the final model was released in 1999, making it the shortest-lived Tamagotchi franchise.
List of Vintage Tamagotchi releases
- The original Tamagotchi: Originally released on November 23, 1996 in Japan and in 1997 worldwide, it introduced the core functionality of Tamagotchi virtual pets.
- A second version, known as New Species Discovered!! Tamagotchi in Japan, was released in early 1997 in Japan and later that year worldwide. It has a different background print, new characters, and a new game, but is otherwise functionally the same.
- The two different models are differentiated internationally as "Generation 1" and "Generation 2".
- Both models were rereleased in 2017 in Japan and in 2018 internationally.
- Tamagotchi Angel: Released in August 1997 in Japan and February 1998 internationally, this model features caring for an Angel (the spirit of a deceased Tamagotchi), training them to perform their angelic duties.
- Tamagotchi Osutchi and Mesutchi: Released in December 1997 in Japan, this model comes in a male version (Osutchi) and female version (Mesutchi). Once they reach adulthood, they can connect and produce babies, allowing the units to run for many generations.
- Mori de Hakken! Tamagotch: Released in February 1998 in Japan, this model features caring for Mushitchi (bug-like Tamagotchi characters) while keeping them safe. It was scheduled for released in the USA in the summer of 1998 as Tamagotchi Garden, but was cancelled.
- Tamagotchi Ocean: Released in March 1998 in Japan and in August 1998 in the USA, this model features caring for Sakanatchi (fish-like Tamagotchi characters) while keeping them safe.
- The Tamagotchi Ocean was the final model to be released outside Japan prior to the 2004 reboot.
- Debirutch no Tamagotch: Released in September 1998 in Japan, this model features caring for a Deviltchi (the evil spirit of a deceased Tamagotchi), training it to behave and trying to befriend it.
- Yasashii Tamagotch: Released in September 1998 in Japan, the Yasashii is a larger model with simplified controls, with six light-up buttons representing core Tamagotchi functions.
- Santaclautch no Tamagotch: Released in November 1998 in Japan and the final virtual pet released, this model features caring for and training Santaclautchi in time for Christmas.
- Mezamatch: Released in 1997 in Japan, the Mezamatch is a digital clock and calendar device, featuring all of the characters of the original Tamagotchi.
- Mechagotch: Released in 1997 in Japan, the Mechagotch is a calculator with a Tamagotchi screen built-in. When certain calculations occur, the character on the device changes, while other calculations will trigger animations, such as feeding.
- Tamapitchi: Released in June 1997 in Japan, the Tamapitchi is a Tamagotchi-based PHS. The phone features Tamagotchi characters that can be cared for, with new characters being unlocked based on the locations called. Calling a phone that was also a Tamapitchi would allow the characters to visit each other.
- Deai Hakken!! Arukotch: Released in 1999 in Japan, this model is a pedometer toy featuring the character Arukotchi. Walking with Arukotchi helps her meet boys and find items that may help or hinder her on her journey to find a boyfriend.
- Genjintch Tamagotchi Released in November 1997 in Japan, this model is inspired by the film Peking Man, featuring caveman-themed characters.
- Mothra Tamagotchi: Released in December 1997 in Japan, this model features the Godzilla franchise character Mothra, raising and training it from grub to adulthood.
- TamaOtch: Released in April 1998 in Japan, this model is inspired by Japanese actress Tamao Nakamura, and features raising and training a Tamagotchi character to be an actress.
- Doraemontchi: Released in August 1998 in Japan, this model features caring for the anime and manga character Doraemon.
- An alternate version, Doramitchi, was also released, which was cosmetically different in design and sprites, but otherwise functionally identical.
- The Doraemontchi was rereleased in February 2006 to commemorate the new Doraemon film, Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur 2006.
The majority of vintage-era Tamagotchi pets are 5 centimeters tall, or about 2 inches tall, with a small LCD on the front and three buttons. The displayed LCD is typically 32 pixels wide by 16 inches tall, with two rows of icons above and below. Behind the screen is a printed cardboard sheet for the background, and around the screen is a "cracked eggshell" pattern. On top of the Tamagotchi is a hole for a keychain, which is typically a ball and chain, though for English releases may sometimes be a chain and ring.
The left button ("A") moves the icon selection on the screen, starting from the top left, moving right, and then to the bottom row. The middle button ("B") confirms the use of a selected icon, or switches to the clock screen if no icon is selected. The right button ("C") will clear any icon selection, and close whatever menu the screen is currently showing. The back of the unit has a fourth "Reset" button, smaller than the front buttons and recessed within the battery compartment, and can only be pressed by a small, thin object (such as a pen or pencil). Pressing this button at any time will clear the current Tamagotchi, bringing it back to the Egg stage, and reset the clock.
The right side of the unit has a thin slot, where an insulation tab is inserted, blocking the battery from the contacts. The tab must be pulled out before the Tamagotchi can be used. Most vintage-era virtual pets take two LR44 button cell batteries, with the exceptions of the Yasashii and the replica classic Tamagotchi models. With the exception of the classic Tamagotchi, every model features a "low battery" warning screen, indicating that the batteries need to be replaced.
Starting from the Tamagotchi Angel, all mainline units feature indents around the buttons. The Tamagotchi Angel and Debirutch no Tamagotch also feature wings, with the Angel featuring silver or gold angel wings, and the Debirutch no Tamagotch featuring silver devil wings.
The Osutchi and Mesutchi, Doraemontchi and Doramitchi, and Yasashii all feature significantly different builds from the standard Tamagotchi models. Four models (the Tamagotchi Angel, Morino Tamagotchi, Tamagotchi Ocean, and TamaOtch) also feature a sound sensor, which can pick up on noises and vibrations.
Bandai Japan developed and released plastic clamshell cases that can be used to store and protect Tamagotchi devices. These cases were never released outside of Japan. The front of the case is clear, and outdented in the areas of the buttons and screen. The inside of the case features a small, loose felt pad, which is used to keep the Tamagotchi from moving around inside, as well as to polish the screen. Included with each case was a sticker pack that can be used to decorate the case or the Tamagotchi itself, as well as a large, rectangular sticker that fits into an indent on the back of the case and includes a space to write the user's name.
The Tamagotchi is inserted into the case by opening the front half, inserting the Tamagotchi through with the keychain through a narrow gap at the top. For North American and Hong Kong models that feature the key ring instead, the key ring must be removed first, as it is too wide to fit through the gap.
A variant of the case was released for the Tamagotchi Angel, which have a glitter effect on the front have as well at outdents of angel wings. A second production of the standard mold cases were released for the Tamagotchi Ocean and Morino Tamagotchi. Larger cases were specially developed for the Osutchi and Mesutchi models.
A special plush case, called the "Tamagotchi Mini Keeper", was released in North America. They are shaped like plush Tamagotchi characters, and inside their body is a pocket to store a Tamagotchi. The hole is accessed from the back, and opened and closed with Velcro. Mini Keepers were made based on Tamagotchi Generation 1 and Tamagotchi Angel characters.
Growth and Lifespan
On almost every model, the Tamagotchi will go through several stages of life once it has been born. The Tamagotchi will progress through each stage of life through Evolution, transforming into a different character over time. How well the user cares for the Tamagotchi will determine which character it will evolve into, and how long the pet can or will live in turn. Many models also feature special characters that can only be obtained under certain conditions.
The user must set the time before the Tamagotchi can hatch. Pressing the B button when no icon is highlighted will bring up the clock screen and holding A and C will allow them to adjust the time - doing the latter is not necessary from a fresh start. A adds hours, B adds minutes and C confirmed the new time, and pressing B again will return to the normal screen. The Tamagotchi will not age, lose hearts, poop etc. as long as the clock is in adjustment mode, thereby allowing it to be used as a "Pause" mode.
Every model features a Check meter screen that shows the Tamagotchi's overall stats. This icon is the sixth on the classic model, and is the first icon on every release since. Checking the stats will allow the user to know how hungry or happy the Tamagotchi currently is, as well as its age and other stats, which may vary between devices.
The feeding icon is the first icon on the classic Tamagotchi, and the second icon on every release afterward. There are always at least two food options. Typically, there is a "Meal" option that increases the Hungry meter, and a "Snack" option that increases the Happy meter. Both options increase the weight.
Every model features a game that can be played to both lower weight and increase the Happy meter. The games are simple in functionality, requiring the use of the A and B button, and typically last up to five "rounds" before they are complete. Pressing the C button closes the game.
On almost all Tamagotchi models, they will leave poo on the screen throughout their life. The user must select the appropriate icon to clear it away. Leaving poo on the screen for too long may result in illness, while multiple poop on the screen drastically increase the likelihood of illness.
Each version features a form Training, which is used to either scold the pet for misbehavior, or praise the pet for good behavior. Each time Training is successfully implemented, the respective meter in the Check Menu will increase. The meter may decrease between evolutions, depending on which characters the user raises, and Training typically has a strong impact on which evolutions occur.
Most models feature some form of Sickness, an ailment that prevents the user from caring for their pet. Selecting the appropriate icon will cure the pet of the ailment. Allowing the sickness to persist for a long time may cause the pet to die early. On many versions, the pet will naturally get sick throughout its life, even with perfect care.
On all releases, the Tamagotchi will go to sleep at night, necessitating that the user turn the pet's lights off. When the pet wakes up in the morning, they will turn the lights back on themselves.
Almost every Tamagotchi releases features an "Attention" icon, which lights up when the Tamagotchi needs something, accompanied by a beep. Typically, the pet will call if either its Hungry or Happy meter empties, if its making a Training call, or when it goes to sleep at night.
Death and Departure
A Tamagotchi will eventually die or leave, due to either neglect or old age. Each model features its own ending screens, with some having separate "good" and "bad" ending sequences leading up to the ending screen. The English models all feature different ending screens from their Japanese counterparts. Once the pet has departed, pressing the A and C buttons together will make the life cycle start over again.
Pressing the A and C buttons simultaneously will disable or enable the sound, indicated by a unique beep. This can only be done on the main screen, and won't work if the Tamagotchi is in the middle of a specific animation, such as pooping or dying.