Reviewed by Deb Banasko
I am a 1980’s girl and I distinctly recall PAC-MAN being my brothers obsession for a time during my childhood. According to Google, PAC-MAN was released two days before I was born (fun fact) so I feel a spooky destiny in my reviewing the PAC-MAN Tamagotchi as both PAC-MAN and I celebrate our 40th birthdays in the same month! Happy birthday to us!
Given the nostalgia that goes with a product like this, I have to review it from both the viewpoint of my children, as well as my husband (who assumed it was a gift for him anyway) and I.
My oldest two children are 8 and 5, and they don’t play a lot of video games. The lack of violence, shorter play time and the idea of dipping in and out with the Tamagotchi really appealed to me. I like the idea of them having something in their pocket that they can play with if we are in the car, for example, but can just as easily set aside again.
My husband on the other hand loves computer games… both modern and retro. He liked the idea of being asked to trial the Tamagotchi without my complaining about him playing video games.
The PAC-MAN Tamagotchi is essentially a PAC-MAN version of the Tamagotchi pet with added ghost and bug outbreaks; when these occur you must summon PAC-MAN for help. If you leave the bugs on screen for too long then your pet will die (perhaps a little sinister for the kids). You raise your Tamagotchi from an egg and can feed it, turn lights on/off, keep it happy and keep the ghosts away! The character grows and evolves into different characters based on how well you take care of it. You can also feed it PAC-MAN’s favourite food, cherries, to cheer it up. It does beep at you for attention every once in a while, which is pretty fun for the kids!
There are two basic games to play with your pet to make it happy (with a PAC-MAN twist), for example in the PAC game you must eat dots and avoid the ghosts!
The packaging has a retro feel, naturally, and is actually easy to get into which is always a bonus. The instructions initially appear a little overwhelming and aren’t the easiest read purely because the different languages are listed for each stage of the instructions. Whilst the detail was brief, I still managed to work out how to use the different settings with ease and was able to use the device within a few minutes. I was able to lose both games in less than that time as well!
The Tamagotchi is quite small and so are the buttons, but I found that I could still play the games with two hands quite easily. My husband did struggle with the size a little and would have preferred something a bit bigger. The black design with PAC-MAN and the coloured ghosts is appealing to both boys and girls, and all ages. It also comes in yellow if you prefer.
I somehow managed to kill the Tamagotchi a couple of times so thank goodness for the reset button at the back. It just takes a little time to figure it out for people like me who didn’t have a Tamagotchi the first time around.
Whilst the menu options are limited, it does make it easy to care for your pet which lends itself more to a child’s toy rather than something that my husband would enjoy. The suggested age is 8+, now this may be due to your Tamagotchi potentially running away from home if it is too sad, or the character possibly dying and so on. However the actual level of difficulty in using this device is lower than that required by an 8 year old in my opinion, and I do think that an older child could get bored rather quickly whereas my 5 year old found it really novel and exciting to raise his little pet. Personally, I think that 6+ would be a more reasonable estimate.
A drawback to the game was the lack of lighting on the screen, which could be an issue in certain darker environments. The graphics were very basic by today’s standard, which for some children may be a turn-off, but less so for an 80’s kid. I think there could have perhaps been a better balance between retro with a modern-day twist, although some PAC-MAN and Tamagotchi fans would no doubt argue with me on this point.
My husband felt that the games weren’t very interactive, as they are quite basic with up, down and side to side button options. However I quite liked the games from the point of view of my 5 and 8 year old; they could play them easily without assistance. Whilst this isn’t a game to occupy huge chunks of their time, it isn’t designed to be; it’s their little pet which they care for and play with a couple of times a day intermittently.
This is a thoughtful gift that will make any member of the family who was a child in the 80’s smile, and whilst my husband felt that the price-point was a little high, I personally feel that it is fairly reasonable. However I don’t believe that it will become much more than a key-ring and a “once in a while” gadget to play with for an adult. With that in mind I’m not sure how long the key chain would hold out as it doesn’t feel especially durable. For adults it’s really a £15 gimmick-gift for PAC-MAN and Tamagotchi lovers, but that is no bad thing.
For me though, it carries more value as a children’s toy.
My children loved the idea of growing a little creature and keeping it alive, and the games would keep them happy for intervals of a few minutes at a time. It’s something a bit different from the usual toys that they have, and they loved the alert beeps to remind them to check on their pet. My children also like to hear about toys from my childhood and in fact have a lot of my old toys in their rooms, so this device had an extra appeal as a toy from the “olden days” (their words sadly, not mine).
I would score this product 4 stars out of 5. A fun piece of nostalgia with a twist, and a handy pocket-toy to keep the kids amused.
This product can be purchased from Amazon here.