The ’90s are calling, and they want you to know how fun Digimon are!
Earlier this year, Bandai America released Digimon X, an updated version of the original Digimon virtual pet toy that launched back in the late ’90s and inspired an entire entertainment franchise, including manga, TV shows, and movies.
Designed for kids ages 8 and up, this Digital Monster comes as a keychain with a screen and three buttons. Similar to Bandai’s Tamagotchi, Digimon X is a digital, pixelized creature that kids can care for. However, more important than caring for the virtual pet is training and preparing it for battle.
When kids first turn on their Digimon — after setting the date and time — they will be greeted by an egg which, after one minute, will hatch into their Digimon. Once that Digimon hatches, kids are tasked with keeping the Digimon fed, clean, and healthy. They can access the food, clear the screen of waste, get medicine, and perform other tasks by toggling through a series of 10 small icons that line the top and bottom of the screen.
Figuring out exactly what each of these icons does and learning all of the Digimon X’s potential activities may seem a bit tricky at first, especially when kids see the fairly wordy instruction sheet. But they shouldn’t stress — This guide is very helpful and packed with tips about keeping the Digimon happy, information about how it will grow and evolve over time, and more. However, the toy is fairly intuitive, and kids can pick up a lot by just trying each of the functions to see what happens. The guide is also laid out strategically, with a section detailing each of the 1o menu options. That way, kids can easily reference a specific section if they aren’t sure what to do.
As mentioned above, in addition to meeting its basic needs, kids can train and battle the Digimon. The mechanics of battling are very straightforward, but do require a small bit of skill — An arrow will move across the top of the screen, and players press a button to pause the arrow at just the right time. The closer the arrow is to its target, the better the Digimon will perform in battle.
As with previous Digimon toys, kids can physically connect their Digimon to a friend’s via a port at the top of the toy to battle each other. A feature that is new to this version, however, is “Quest” battles against AI (computer) opponents. This, in my opinion, is a great feature — It means that kids can enjoy the battling component of this toy even if they don’t have close friends who are also raising Digimon.
Overall, there is a lot to discover and so many ways to play with the Digimon X that it will keep kids entertained for good periods of time. They will also find new ways to engage with the toy, as the Digimon evolves and unlocks new skills as it grows.
There are also a lot of features of this toy that parents will appreciate. To start, the attached keychain makes Digimon X great for on-the-go play and makes it much harder to lose. Also, it is possible to turn off the sound effects if you need playtime to be a bit quieter. However, I will warn that turning the sound off makes it easier to forget about tending to the Digimon, due to the absence of audio alerts. Finally — and perhaps most importantly — you can pause the Digimon. If kids can’t focus on their Digimon’s needs, they can put their Digimon in a “freeze.” When in this mode, the Digimon’s hunger and strength won’t decrease, which will keep the virtual pet from perishing while kids spend the day in school. Be sure kids remember to put the Digimon in this mode before putting down the toy for too long — a Digimon left unattended for too long will die. (In the case of an untimely Digimon demise, kids can easily start over with a new Digimon egg!)
Overall, the Digimon X offers some fun upgrades to a classic toy that will offer nostalgia to long-time fans and provide a great introduction to Digimon for a new generation.