Tamagotchi Connection
Design Review

This Tamagotchi product review is part of the Tamagotchi Connection Information Center
Bandai and Kabushiki Kaisha Wiz Company faced many decisions in bringing back Tamagotchi. Marketing, Financial, Distribution and Design decisions to name a few. This paper discusses some of the choices made by them, options left by the wayside, and what might yet come from them and others.

Let's start with the name. They elected to call it Tamagotchi Plus in Japan, Tamagotchi Connexion in Europe and Tamagotchi Connection in the United States. On the surface, the name may not seem like a design issue, but each version is different from the others. They each have their own set of games and some other minor changes, plus the case is available in different colors and patterns in each region. Each region and in some cases, each country, has its own set of printed instructions and online support.

The rollout began in Japan in May 2004, moved to Australia and Europe, then to the United States in August 2004.

Tamagotchi Connection can be broken down into nine design elements. The "program/game", controls (three buttons), display, infrared connection, case, instructions, packaging, power (battery), extra features, color variations / special models, online support. Each design element is briefly discussed below.


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Program / Game

Tamagotchi Connection is "hatched" the first time by pulling out a small plastic strip covering a battery connection similar to the method used to start the original Tamagotchi.

The "game" is very similar to the original Tamagotchi game, introduced here in Fall of 1997. So similar in fact, many may view it more as a "retro" product than a new toy. The major change is the ability to communicate via and infrared link to other Tamagotchi. Once "linked" they can play games, exchange presents, even become lovers and create baby Tamagotchi. Once a baby is created (baby is created on both screens), the parents will "go away" in 24 hours and all attention is now focused on raising the next generation.

The additional complexity of infrared links and raising children is made possible by incorporating five times the computing power of earlier units.

Back in 1997, Tamagotchi exploded in the United States selling millions of units, then left the scene. In Japan, several more complex Tamagotchi followed the original design, including Mesutchi (female) & Osutchi (male), released in December 1997. This pair of virtual pets physically linked together by removing a "cap" on each pet and connecting them together, allowing them to mate and produce baby Tamagotchi, sound familiar? Tamagotchi Connection links via an infrared vs. a physical link.

My Osutchi Mesutchi Page nice photo of Bandai's earlier "linking" pets.

In terms of the "game" many characters are possible depending on the parents and level of care paid the pet. In August 2003, Banadai was assigned U.S. Patent 6,609,968 for its Rearing Simulation Apparatus. The patent discusses how Banadai calculates degree of "care" to determine a "metamorphosis" character.

The actual characters, at least for the Japanese version, have been described and depicted in "growth charts" in some Japanese Bandai publications. American growth charts are now starting to appear online.

Althought the original Tamagotchi evolved into a number of characters depending on the level of care. Tamagotchi Connection adds another level of character complexity as some pets only appear in "even" or "odd" generations and some can only come from certain parents. Many (perhaps most) Americans may never understand the various Tamagtochi Connection characters and how to obtain them. However, the design remains playable even by young children (Age 4 and up as recommended by Bandai). This is somewhat similar to Microsoft Word having complex intricate commands used by those pushing it to the limits, while the rest of us can comfortable use it to create a letter.

Japanese pop culture has taken a strong foothold in the United States in recent years with thousands of followers of Japanese pop music, Anime and other cultural expressions. Those "caught up" in Japanese culture may find the characters interesting, however everyday American children and women (a target Audience in Japan) might prefer more Amercian characters (raise a plumber, lawyer, engineer, doctor, U.S. president, etc).

As always, there is talk of secret characters and secret codes. More may be revealed in the future or in future pets, but it appears to be an area that is not being significantly exploited at this time.

All in all, the game is little changed from its predicessors, except for the infrared link. Since 1997, children have been mastering much more complex games. Many feel the "game" should have been significantly enhanced, more levels of difficulty added.


Bandai chose the same three button control system used on the original Tamagotchi. Many users will recall this system, and others can rapidly learn it. The control system required is a function of the "program/game". By choosing to remain with the basic "game" of the original Tamagotchi, the original controls are a nice match for it, but more complex controls could signal a more complex, more interesting, more captivating game.


The new larger, higher resolution display is a welcome addition to Tamagotchi Connection. The screen is slightly larger and has double the resolution of earlier units. Backgrounds are obtained by printing them on paper and positioning them behind the screen.

The long awaited color screen is just that, still being long awaited. Perhaps future generations will finally bring this feature to Tamagotchi. With kids used to playing complex color games on "boxes", computers and cell phones, it remains to be seen how many American children are ready for "retro" black and white.

Infrared Connection

Tamagotchi Connection's infrared connection, called TamaCon, allows communication with other Tamagotchi. You must place the pets very close together and align the keychain (top) ends to point at each other. Once the pets begin to communicate, the can play games, exchange presents, become friends, even marry and create children depending on their sex and age. Many are reporting the three editions (Tamagotchi Plus, Tamagotchi Connexion, and Tamagotchi Connection) can successfully link to one another. For isolated Tamagotchi (no other Tamagotchi to mate with), a "match maker" appears and begins to offer suitable candidates for marriage.

Some Previous "Virtual Pet like" Interactive Technologies:

We are no longer impressed by infrared links, especially not ones that have to be within a few inches of each other. The infrared connection is "nice", but seems a bit tame in todays standards of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies. It would be nice if Tamagotchi could "reach out" and find nearby Tamagotchi and interact with them.

On the other side of the coin, decisions have to be made based on costs and power requirements. These are economical portable devices, not high dollar, plug into the wall units. Hopefully we will see either extension of infrared features or other linking technologies in the future.


The new case, similar in appearance to the old one, is considerably larger (perhaps to house the infrared link). It almost fills the palm, where the earlier case was more egg shaped. It is not as "pocketable" as the previous units, especially not in the very small pockets of young children.


Tamagotchi Connection Instructions are available on our Tamagotchi Instructions page. Many of them come from Bandai's site. If you print them off the print is very small and may be difficult for many to read.

The instructions appear pretty logical and include the normal cautions and hazards. They do NOT provide any information about the various characters and how you might get one vs. the other. The pet does perform one minor privacy invasion of asking you for your birthday (it helps you celebrate it when it comes around).


Original Tamagotchi was packaged in a box resembling a VCR tape box. The outside turned open like a book, revealing a clear plastic window with the Tamagotchi behind it. They had a "hang tag" hole at the top and stacked nicely into cases. The new version is encapsulated between two layers of clear plastic with a "hang tag" hole in the top of the assembly. They can be tossed loose into a case (not stacked like the previous version). The original version often showed some wear on the box corners from handling (even before it was sold), while the new packaging is much more forgiving, as well as the toy is in plain sight, not behind a cover.

One drawback to the new packaging, is once the pet is removed the packaging is discarded (not reusable), while many kept the earlier box to store their Tamagotchi in.

Power / Battery

Tamagotchi Connection uses only one battery a three volt lithium CR2032 included with the pet. They have a shelf life of 10 years.

  Capacity 210 mAh
  Voltage 3 volts
  Height 3.2 mm
  Diameter 20 mm
  Weight 3.3 grams
The earlier unit used two small button cells, LR44 batteries. The Alkaline version is about:
  Capacity 105mAh
  Voltage 1.5 volts
  Height 5.4 mm
  Diameter 11.6 mm
  Weight 2.0 grams
You can see the new unit uses one flatter, larger diameter three volt battery, vs. the two smaller deeper 1.5 volt batteries used in the past. The new, single battery model is actually about .7 grams lighter and only requires one set of connection hardware.

Extra Features

Lotteria big one

Color Variations / Special Models

As with previous Tamagotchi, we anticipate seeing a never ending stream of color variations, special models, and updated versions.

Looking Ahead

First, we would like congratulate Bandai and Kabushiki Kaisha Wiz for bringing back Tamagotchi. In the same breath, we would like to encourage them to keep incorporating new technologies in new Tamagotchi releases.

Other technologies that might be adapted to virtual pets include Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, bar code readers, bluetooth, USB ports, photocells, VEIL (communicate with television), bend sensors and interacting with some of the handheld gaming devices, like GameBoy.

While some may think this is a re-introduction of virtual pets in general, they never went very far away. There were several other virtual pets (VP) in the middle some did not even recognize as VP. Furby, Pokemon, Digemon, Neopets, all sorts of robotic pets (dogs, parakeets, dinosaurs, AIBO, etc) to name a few. Many other VP were released in Japan. The craze just keeps regenerating itself. Its as if Virtual Pets themselves have a virtual life, each format comes back as the next generation VP. Hopefully Tamagotchi Connection will be wildly sucessful and Bandai and the imitators will rapidly adapt these and other new technologies resulting in a flurry of virtual pet innovations. Its not hard to imagine many advanced designs sitting on the sidelines right now to see how. Hopefully we will see them soon!

Reference Materials

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