Hatchi – iOS
Developer: Portable Pixels
Publisher: Portable Pixels
Release Date: January 12, 2012
Genre: Pet Simulator
Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10
Reviewed by The Cubist
Remember in the mid to late 90’s when everyone had a Tamagotchi? Or maybe one of the knock-offs, Gigapet or Nanopet? Don’t be fooled into thinking this was a “girl’s only” thing…more guys than you realize had one of these things, we were just a little less conspicuous about when our virtual pet shit all over itself during 3rd period science.
For those of you who can’t quite recall Tamagotchis, I’ll do my best to paint a picture. Tamagotchis (and the various other iterations and updates that would follow) were a small device, about the size of a pocket watch, with a small LCD screen that displayed images using very large pixels. These devices functioned as “virtual pets;” they needed to be cleaned, played with, and trained. Depending on how good of a caretaker the user was, the small amorphous blob would “grow up” into various creatures as time went on. These tiny machines were notoriously disruptive for an entire 3 year’s worth of tween parents and teachers, beeping loudly at the most inopportune times. The main draw was that these little digital creatures grew and changed in real time and their eventual changes were difficult to predict.
Well, I never did get very far with mine. A combination of growing tired with taking care of it daily and the impractical duty of fiddling with it at school brought my tenure as a Tamagotchi parent to an abrupt end. One day as I was idly searching for games on my iPod Touch, I wondered “is there a Tamagotchi app for this?” Lo and behold, I ran across Hatchi. Admittedly the app at the time was severely lacking in features to keep one engaged for very long, but as the months and eventually a year rolled by, more updates were made and as of now it stands as a proud extension of the virtual pet experience.
The first thing I love about Hatchi is Portable Pixels’ impeccable job of replicating the old experience on cutting edge touch screen technology. It’s not too gussied up or high tech and remains a faithful adaptation of the original. The pets are rendered using large pixels and represented by simple designs, and the process to take care of them is straightforward. Everything about the app (pertaining to the virtual pet) is a perfect recapturing of the limited 3 button set up of the original.
There are 3 main functions of Hatchi and 6 status bars for each pet. First, there’s food. Food will replenish both “hunger” and “energy.” Hatchi contains 6 different foods as well as a number of specialty foods that can be bought within the app. Each pet, upon trying all foods, will have a “favorite” and “least favorite.” Both foods will equally fill portions of the hunger and energy bars, but favorite foods will also increase the “happiness” stat and hated foods will deplete it. The second function is cleaning the pet, removing any excrement and refilling the “cleanliness” stat. Finally the pet can be played with, either by reading to it or playing ball. Reading fills the “smartness” bar and playing ball will fill up “physical.” Both contribute to overall happiness, and both deplete the energy bar. Turning out the lights will put the pet to sleep and after some time refill its energy. If a pet is left dirty for too long, it will get sick (and eventually die) requiring the use of a shot to make it healthy again. The pet’s weight is also tracked; a more active pet will weight less than one more focused on “smartness.” Besides reading and playing ball, a number of mini-games are also available and act similarly on the status bars.
How full these bars are and at what stages of the 4 evolutions they occur determines the possible outcome of the creature. Hatchi keeps the concept fresh by adding a few new features, albeit mostly in the form of in-app purchases which have been added in successive updates. Both a pet’s eye and body color can be changed, and certain “pills” can be given to them to change physical aspects. A few months ago the ability to take care of 3 pets was added, with more free spaces available for purchase (I currently have 6). This is a wonderful way to beef up one’s “forest sanctuary” where all “released” pets live. Perhaps my favorite feature is the opportunity to purchase different eggs than the default ones. These result in completely new creatures and go a long way as far as keeping the game fresh. In addition to the “normal” eggs that can produce 8 unique adults, Mystery Eggs, Mountain Eggs, and Botanical Eggs have been added, each with the ability to form 4 different adults.
Once a pet is 7 days old, it is considered “fully grown” and will have been in its adult stage since the 5th day. Fully grown pets can be released into the forest sanctuary where the user can go visit them at any time. One of my favorite in-app purchases is the “release fake ID,” allowing me to release pets of any evolutionary state or age in the sanctuary, resulting in a situation where I can truly display every possible evolution, from baby to child to teen to adult.
Rather than purchasing these extra items directly, there is an in-game currency used. It’s possible to build up coins from playing mini-games, but honestly it’s much easier to buy 150,000 coins for $3.99. These coins will allow for a lot of freedom, but it is necessary to put a little money into Hatchi every now and then to fully enjoy all the neat bells and whistles. Not optimal, but the $3.99 here and there isn’t that bad and will probably last longer than you’d expect.
Is this the kind of game that you’ll be able to sit and play for hours? No. A few minutes 4 to 6 times a day will suffice. Portable Pixels has added a lot of enhancements to the original concept of a virtual pet while retaining the simplistic feel that made them a hit to begin with. This may not be the app for everybody, but it’s the best version of a Tamgotchi re-creation I can imagine. Hatchi probably won’t hold your attention for years on end although it is worth well-deserved spurts of play after major updates.
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