Review: Namco Tamagotchi ‘Round the World
While it would be unfair to tar Tamagotchi: 'Round the World ($5) for the sins of its many ancestors, Bandai's series of all but mindless "digital pets" were a mid-1990s fad that never seemed to regain steam after a promising start. Originally egg-shaped keychains with simplistic LCD screens, Tamagotchi toys needed to be treated like babies -- if you didn't care for them constantly, they would starve or die, making you lose the "game." Subsequent Tamagotchi games released for Nintendo's DS handhelds have gotten away from the theme of constant character maintenance, instead giving you control over different cartoony characters who have fun with simple controls in simple environments.
That’s what Tamagotchi: ‘Round the World is: a dead simple, mission-based game where you’re really doing little more than choosing menu options to interact with an on-screen character and its environments. You rotate the Click Wheel to choose a position for your Tamagotchi to stand on in a flat 2-D backdrop, then select from a number of context-sensitive options to make things happen in the world. Specifically, you’re supposed to interact with seeds, plants, clouds, geysers and the like to grow things in the game’s stages.
Stand in front of a plant and it may want to be watered, pooped on—seriously—or played with. Watch the plant grow and it’ll eventually dispense fruits and seeds to help you achieve the mission’s objective. Then there will be a new mission, with a new background and perhaps a new Tamagotchi character. Four total characters, Mametchi, Memetchi, Kuchipatchi, and Violetchi, are introduced throughout the stages, and with them, Tamagotchi stamps for a virtual in-game stampbook. These details will be more of interest to Tamagotchi fans than to everyone else, but they’re there to change up the artwork and keep things interesting.
As tempting as it is, given the theme, to fall back on the old “it’s as exciting as sitting around watching plants grow” criticism of dull gameplay experiences, we’re not going to say that this is a bad game. It’s not. Like the Pac-Man and Pole Position yawners Namco has previously released for the Click Wheel iPods, Tamagotchi is just another “casual” title, relying more on its name and simplistic gameplay to snare players than any great fun or depth. But unlike those games, this isn’t a one-trick pony, troubled by the iPod’s controls. It’s also bolstered by pleasant music and graphics that are colorful and cute, though not impressively drawn or animated.
From mission to mission, Tamagotchi changes up your interactions just enough to make its shallowness almost acceptable. One stage’s paper-rock-scissors game morphs in a subsequent stage into a “run around and pop bubbles” game, and “wave the feather around” action transforms into a pattern-matching exercise, both breaking up the tedium of moving from object to object, pooping, and calling out rain clouds. In each case, the Click Wheel controls—scrolling and button pressing—are simple to understand thanks to on-screne prompts, and both iPod nano and iPod classic users will have no issue reading the text or understanding what to do. The best part of all is that this version of Tamagotchi, like most of the others released in recent years, saves your progress and doesn’t demand that you service it all the time to keep your character alive. Truly, this is Tamagotchi in name, but not in classic spirit.
While we wouldn’t recommend Tamagotchi to all of our readers, this title’s simple gameplay, cheery music, and happy graphics make it a good pick for kids—as well as past fans of the Tamagotchi toys who aren’t looking for quite as complete a drain on their free time. Some may even see this as a bargain for the $5 asking price, at least by reference to the prices of the past toys and other Tamagotchi titles; in our view, it’s about right given the scope and depth of this experience.