Humanity perfected the digital pet in the 1990s. Everything since then has been a pale clone of the original Tamagotchi.
Sure, there are 21st-century virtual pets. All those video game dogs you can fuss. Neko Atsume. A range of fingertip-sized critters you can nurture on your MacBook Touch Bar.
There’s even a ‘pet mountain.’ That is, a mountain that is a pet, not a mountain populated by pets. You can’t feed or wipe your mountain, but you can play the xylophone to it.
But in the 1990s, we still liked to have ‘things.’ Mostly plastic things that looked a bit retro and a bit futuristic. Sure, it could be digital – as long as it came in a collectible shell.
The ’90s were also the birth of screen dependency, from The Simpsons and Spongebob to the SNES and Geocities. So, as much as TheToyZone loves the re-launched Tamagotchi On, the only way to recapture the affection we had for the original playground pet was to mash the new, all-color Tamagotchi with some of our favourite screen pets from over the years.
1. Santa’s Little Helper (The Simpsons)
Could you be sure that your Santa’s Little Helper Tamagotchi doesn’t contain the soul of the real Santa’s Little Helper? Over the years, the Simpsons’ family dog has proven to be adaptable to future trends – maybe even indestructible.
We’ve seen him evolve into a ‘man-dog’ in Holidays of Future Passed and immortalized Frankenstein-style with spare parts from other pets in Days of Future Future. So, here he is with his consciousness uploaded to a Bandai toy. Perhaps the first unkillable Tamagotchi?
2. Hedwig (Harry Potter)
Oh, heroic Hedwig! Harry Potter’s pet snowy owl leads a thankless existence, delivering mail, being locked away by the Dursleys, and finally making the ultimate sacrifice. Finally, though, you can imprison Hedwig in your pocket and give her the love she deserves.
Hedwig already has a digital presence as a playable character (with a heart-wrenching theme tune) in The Prisoner of Azkaban video game, which is very cool. But that sort of spoils the fun of Hedwig-as-pet: to feed, fuss, and potty-train her. And perhaps, in Tamagotchi form, have her send your emails for you. Be sure also to check out what we think is the best lego harry potter set, as we found some great sets you might have missed.
3. Luna (Sailor Moon)
The cats of Sailor Moon are smart, talkative mentor figures with occasional lapses into human form. Luna is sent to Earth to connect with the reincarnated Princess Serenity, revealing herself to young Usagi by the moon-shaped birthmark on her head.
Luna is no stranger to magical pocket trinkets. She happily supplies the Sailor Senshi with gadgets such as Transformation Pens, Ami’s supercomputer, or the Moon Stick, summoning them with a feline somersault. The wise Luna Tamagotchi will be an asset to any sailor soldier’s satchel.
4. Yoshi (Super Mario)
Nintendo had their own stab at virtual pet-keeping with Nintendogs (+ Cats), although these were more of a game sprite than a companion. Nintendo’s not-so-pixelated pups also stray too deep into the uncanny valley to be a real candidate for living and dying together on a damaged Earth, cyborg or not.
Enter Yoshi. First blurring the line between pet and sidekick, Yoshi later became the star of his own series of Super Mario spinoff games. But his destiny is in your pocket. ‘Tamagotchi’ translates to ‘Egg Watch,’ which chimes with Yoshi’s ability to swallow enemies, transform them into eggs, and then pelt them at other enemies. Plus, his classically Japanese 16-bitness makes him look right at home as a digital pocket pet.
5. Gary (Spongebob Squarepants)
Garold “Gary” Wilson, Jr. crawled to superstardom on the tail of Spongebob Squarepants’ phenomenal rise at the turn of the millennium. While he’s a snail of the 21st-century, Gary’s cultural roots are firmly planted in the 20th century imagery of The Magic Roundabout and The Flaming Lips.
A snail might seem like a low-maintenance pet, but Gary eats a lot and is also known to have a temper. However, like our Luna Tamagotchi, Gary might just be on hand with some animated advice when you need it.
6. Nibbler (Futurama)
Lord Nibbler is a pre-ancient Nibblonian space-alien, but to Earth-dwellers, he’ll always have something of the Staffie dog about him. And Nibbler may be an advanced being concerned with protecting the universe from harm, but he also seems to cry out “great pet material.”
This triple-eyed, diaper-wearing former Vergon 6 inhabitant has the most epic backstory in all of Futurama and the most mercurial of character arcs in the show. Wouldn’t you love to pet and care for him in your pocket during long, dull days at your office job? After all, it’s not his fault he’s an unstoppable killing machine.
7. Brainslug (Among Us)
Sat through the Covid-19 lockdown, and all you got was this lousy slug? Among Us was one of the break-out games of the pandemic. It was released two years before coronavirus but suddenly reached $86 million in sales when we all had to stay at home twiddling our thumbs for a year and a half. (Pretty sus, right?)
Innersloth released the Brainslug Pet Bundle to offer companionship across those lonely months. The little sidekick taps immediately into Lord Nibbleresque cuteness (to which he is something of a tribute). But Brainslug is more than a pretty face: such kawaii good looks in a pet can variously “improve our performance and make us happier” or, uh, “hijack our brains and drive behavior” (depending on your state of paranoia).
The Among Us Brainslug proves a modern truism: no matter how hyper-realistic digital characters look these days, we’ll always form a stronger bond with the blobby, pixelated ones.
TheToyZone hopes our fictional pets reimagined as Tamagotchis can light an 8-bit looping fire gif in your heart.
So just imagine if you could keep one digitized in your pocket and love it and feed it forever, or until you forget and it dies?
Fair Use Statement
We would be thrilled to see our fictional Tamagotchis on your site. The only thing we would ask is that you please credit TheToyZone as the original source of the designs including a link to this page. Also, feel free to get in touch with us so we can send you the high resolution designs, as well as behind the scenes designs we couldn’t fit on here.