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Penguin-keeper

Cyber Pets (168-in-1) Review/First Impressions

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As part of an ongoing search for penguin virtual pets, I picked up a 168-in-1 pet that contains the notorious "Bunny ROM" that's so prevalent in cheap direct-from-China multi-pets from recent times. I had done my research beforehand, both here and on YouTube, and had observed that these multi-pets didn't seem to be well-received, and that some variants of them had reliability problems as well, leading to them doing such things as spontaneously resetting when set down on a table, or even during use. However, with my expectations suitably tempered, I still really wanted to get one, because part of me couldn't resist the sheer stupidity of raising a virtual penguin who's born from a violent explosion, who slides around the screen in a static pose doing nothing most of the time, and who randomly turns into a rotund chicken for certain animations. ;)

And then, just as I was considering purchasing one from a Hong Kong-based seller online, the big UK chain The Works (which is primarily a discount/overstock book-store and gift-shop) started stocking boxed versions of them for the Christmas season! They're available in penguin, heart, and apple shapes, and are sold under the simple name of "Cyber Pet", with the slogans "YOUR VERY OWN INTERACTIVE PET" and "LOVE YOUR CYBER PET" placed at the top and bottom of the packaging, respectively.

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Here's how they look in the packaging. The Works sells them for £4 each, which is a bit higher than the prices that online sellers shipping directly from China are offering, but not by very much. When I was informed of this, I decided that I would get one as soon as I could, because I realised that a big-enough UK distributor importing them en-masse might mean a chance of better quality-control than I had seen reported about some variations of these 168-in-1 pets.

Ultimately, my local branch of The Works sold out within a couple of days of getting them in stock, before I could get there, leading to me ordering the same boxed version from a UK-based online seller instead, for just £3.25. I love penguins, so I opted for the penguin-shaped casing (based on one of the mascots of China's QQ messaging service) in black, because I most liked how that one looked.

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It arrived today, and I noticed from the back of the packaging that these boxed versions are being imported by PMS International - a large UK toy and gift distributor and manufacturer, who hold some pretty famous licenses in other parts of their business. This gave me some more hope about my previous theory that the quality-control might be higher for a large order from a big distributor.

I also noticed something else about the packaging - the front shows grayscale images of the following, implying that they're pets who are available on this device;

Slush the Husky from the Ty Beanie Boos line
A stripy fox
Some sort of bandit chihuahua
A traditional koi carp
Abu from Disney's Aladdin (specifically, his sprite from the SNES game based on the film)

They aren't. ;)

From this, I figured that this would be a laugh however it turned out, and I then unboxed the virtual pet and read the instructions. With my expectations set low as a result of my previous research, I went in judging this only on the basis of its merits as a basic, very low-cost virtual pet, rather than comparing it to other classic and current products that cost more. What follows are my first impressions...

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First off, here's an up-close look at the virtual pet in action, to show the general quality of it. This was taken a few minutes after it came out of the box, scratches and all (if you compare this to the packaged photograph above, you can see the same marks there, too). This penguin-design casing can stand upright on its feet, but I wouldn't trust it to remain stable like this, as there isn't much surface-area for it to put its weight on.

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And here it is with my other virtual pets - a 1997 Tamagotchi, a 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Mini, Tamagotchi Connexion V2 and V4, and Dinkie Penguin. As you can see, the size isn't really any different to that of any other virtual pet.

The plastic feels kind of cheap, and the paint makes it look a bit worse, but it actually isn't horrible or brittle. It's not quite what I'd call solid, but it's also not in the category of cheap-and-nasty, either - it does the job. Mine does not spontaneously reset itself when I put it down or if something knocks the casing, as I've seen reported about some other iterations of these 168-in-1 pets. I don't know whether or not this is down to higher quality-control because of a big company ordering a large number of these to be packaged for import, but I'm glad that it works properly.

The five semi-translucent buttons, which are arranged in a "W" formation, respond very nicely, and aren't too dissimilar to the rubber buttons used on the Dinkie Penguin that I have. The material used for the 168-in-1 pet's buttons is a little bit firmer, but the response is about the same. The fact that the buttons are rubber means that I'll be able to cut the top off of the awkwardly-located Reset button, so that it can't accidentally be pressed (it already has a lower profile than the other four buttons, but I can see that it wouldn't be enough to prevent this). Speaking of the buttons, the first two have exactly the same function as each other (they advance through menus), so it seems pretty pointless for there to even be five of them. They're all labelled - Status, Select, Reset, Decide, and Cancel - and the label on the first button, combined with some text in the instructions, would appear to suggest that this setup might originally have been designed for different virtual pet software than what's actually used on the device.

I was really surprised by how nice the screen is, though it has a plastic film on it which causes bubbles on the surface of the display. It's the sort of film that's used to protect displays in transit, but it's been sealed within the casing, and therefore cannot be removed - it's obviously not supposed to be there. Thankfully, on mine, the bubbles aren't too noticeable during use. The display is crisp and clear, and is quite high-resolution for one of these tiny monochrome dot-matrix displays However, a lot of the graphics don't take advantage of it, and seem to have been designed for a display that has less pixels. For example, four pixels on this display tends to make up one "virtual pixel" for the graphics for the pets.

The pets are largely pretty clear and nicely-drawn, though there certainly are some weird choices available, as I'm sure everyone here is already aware of from other postings about these 168-in-1 pets. For anyone who might not be, though, they range from normal animals, to knock-off Tamagotchi characters, to Yami Yugi and SpongeBob SquarePants - they're very strange. I picked a penguin, and, from the tiny list of names that the unit presented me with, I named him Bob. Bob was born from an explosion, and he's been sliding around the screen quite happily ever since, occasionally transforming into a fat chicken when he wishes to express happiness or disdain.

The beeps that this virtual pet makes are quite tuneful, and cover quite a range of sounds; I was expecting something shrill and awful (especially after hearing some examples of this virtual pet hardware in counterfeit Tamagotchi Connection casings), but I found that it's not unpleasant to listen to at all. The eating noise being a much lower-pitched sound than the other beeps surprised me, and seems like a nice touch - I can't remember ever encountering a virtual pet with a noise for each bite it takes, before, let alone one that has an appropriate sound-effect for it.

It seems that the instructions don't actually pertain to this virtual pet at all. They talk about functions that don't even exist, and make it sound far more complicated than it really is. It also mentions there being 23 pets when it's really the now-typical 168-in-1 ROM, and claims that the creatures hatch from an egg and "Happy Birthday" is played when they're born. In reality, they bizarrely "hatch" from an explosion (which has a neat, but subdued, sound-effect that doesn't match the visual), and no tune is played.

One thing that the instructions don't mention is that, after a while, the display will go to sleep, and pressing the first two buttons does nothing, making it appear as though the virtual pet has stopped working. However, pressing the Cancel button will bring it back again, revealing that it's actually fine. Whilst this is obviously intended to save the batteries to some degree, it kind of defeats the point of a virtual pet, since part of the idea is for the display to always be on so that you can easily check on it.

The games that the instruction sheet describes aren't what's on here - it mentions things like high/low, dancing, and "scissor/fist/rag" (yes, really), but the games are actually one involving a dog having to catch a frisbee as it flies overhead, and another where you control a spaceship and avoid oncoming aliens. You can earn Gold to (allegedly) spend in the in-game shop by playing these games, but the shop doesn't display its prices, and it never seems to let me buy anything, no matter how much Gold I've earned. However, this doesn't bother me, as I feel that this is a feature that would be better off not being there (though at least it's presented as being more like a pet shop, given what's on offer - it's not being run by another animal, as is the case on the Tamagotchi Connexion, and, I presume, other later Tamagotchi iterations). The spaceship game is really fun, but very easy to win at, as long as you can spend a few minutes on it. I like both of these games more than the games on the Tamagotchi Connexion V2 and V4 that I have (especially the V2), as I found that the games on this low-budget virtual pet are both more intuitive!

It actually feels like some effort has been put into the programming of this virtual pet, although the presentation is often rather lacking. For example, your chosen pet is effectively a static image that slides around the screen, but for certain animations it will turn into a round blob (resembling Tamagotchi's Marutchi), a smaller round blob (resembling Babytchi), or, most often, a pudgy chicken (I have no idea if this has been pulled from another brand of virtual pet or not, but it has the general style of bird virtual pets made for the Japanese market in the 1990s).

The inconsistency simply doesn't look very good, though the sounds accompanying it are quite nice. Moreover, the pet doesn't seem to have any limits on how much you can feed it - it won't refuse after it's had its fill, and you can't tell how hungry or happy it is, because the meters for this (which are described in great detail on the instruction sheet) simply don't exist. There are also options in some menus that don't appear to do anything (for example, there's one to input some sort of three-digit code, but whatever you do you get the pudgy chicken shaking his head at you, and there's a letter option that tries to ape that of the Tamagotchi Connexion V4, which explodes and then gives you Gold or poop), and it feels like it would be better if they weren't there to cause confusion, because they really don't add anything useful or engaging to this pet. It also looks like it's missing the depth of having evolutionary paths that depend on how you treat or feed the animal, as well.

Oddly, the virtual pet asks you to set the time when you get started, but before too long it stops showing the time when you press the button to bring up the clock (instead, it shows an animation of a pair of spinning clocks where the numbers should be), so I have no idea if it's actually doing things based on the time of day or not! I suspect that it isn't.

Overall, it feels like there's something missing some of the time, and this virtual pet would've benefitted from having a few less pets so as to make space for more animations for the unique, non-ripped-off ones. It also would've helped to drop menu features that seem to be there to pretend that there are more things to do than there really are.

These issues do detract from the experience a bit, but not too much, because the core of it is solid enough - it's kind of like a cross between the original Tamagotchi and a lower-budget latter-day multi-pet, with a tiny bit of influence from the Tamagotchi Connexion thrown in. However, if you're a virtual pet enthusiast who just wants a weird and possibly slightly stupid novelty for a change, to supplement a collection of "proper" virtual pets, it's certainly not a bad choice for the tiny amount of money that they're sold for.

The whole thing feels a bit like what would be described in the video game world as a "pirate original", where a small team comes up with their own unlicensed game that's been heavily inspired by something else, but which shows genuine effort in spite of its flaws.

During the time that I've written this, after having hatched, fed, and played with Bob the penguin, the virtual pet has only beeped at me three times (one of them being immediately after tending to the previous beep), all of which were because there was a clean-up to be done, because this pet alerts you when it poops. It doesn't seem to be very demanding, at least so far - the main thing that it seems to do is poop a lot, and it also seems to sometimes lose weight when it does so.

After having braced myself for the worst after having seen some very negative comments about this type of virtual pet (at least some of which seem to spring from ire about the ROM concerned being used in counterfeits of the Tamagotchi Connection, rather than on the software's merits when correctly sold as the generic virtual pet that it actually is), I've actually been left very surprised by how happy I am with it, considering the price that I paid for it.

Is it as good as a Tamagotchi, or any of the other virtual pets that were created to compete with it? Of course not. But for an ultra-cheap toy that you can buy with some loose change, it's surprisingly fun! It's also probably not a bad, super-low-cost introduction to traditional, tangible, non-app virtual pets for those unfamiliar with them, before they commit to investing in something more expensive - the concept and workings are simple, the graphics are nice and clear, and with an explanation of which buttons do what it's fairly intuitive.

As I mentioned earlier, these are currently being sold in The Works in the UK, and I'd imagine that other shops might've picked them up as well, since the company who released these boxed versions is actually a pretty big distributor of toys and gifts. The ones at my local branch had all sold out within a day or two of being stocked, which I actually think is pretty encouraging - it shows that there's still a market for traditional virtual pets, as long as they're visible in the marketplace!

Edited by Penguin-keeper
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yeah I got the same thing I think. there is bread and cake as food and I got up to like twelve thousand gold and went to the store and I apparently 'bought' something from the store. I went down in gold, and I after a while was able to give It a shot, and I clicked the yin yang thing, and my frog turned into a tank. so, yeah, great.

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yeah I got the same thing I think. there is bread and cake as food and I got up to like twelve thousand gold and went to the store and I apparently 'bought' something from the store. I went down in gold, and I after a while was able to give It a shot, and I clicked the yin yang thing, and my frog turned into a tank. so, yeah, great.

Yeah, that's the one! I like to look at it as less of a virtual pet simulation, and more of a simulation of a virtual pet. :lol:

 

I'm amazed that you have to get that much Gold in order to buy anything! :o I've got a long way to go!

 

I think I like the idea of my penguin mysteriously transmogrifying into a tank - it fits right in with being born from an explosion and then randomly turning into a chicken or into various types of blobs in response to different events. I'll work towards that! At least it means that he'd be doing more than pooping up to five times in a row, with each new one immediately following the previous cleanup, which is all that Bob the penguin does otherwise. ;)

 

Thanks for shedding some light on the function of the enigmatic Yin-Yang option, by the way!

Edited by Penguin-keeper

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Thanks for shedding some light on the function of the enigmatic Yin-Yang option, by the way!

 

You probably already know this but the "Yin-Yang option" is the "attention icon" on all Tamagotchi models and is supposed to be non-selectable. It does make sense that such a knock-off like this wouldn't bother to obey that rule. Seeing your review made me a bit more excited to eventually purchase one of these generic knockoffs. Incidentally, I was considering the penguin version because it appeared to stand but chance are I'll be treating it rather delicately. I'm still wondering if maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to disassemble the device in order to completely remove the reset button, in case it doesn't go back together tightly (although I might still tape the batteries down, so that might solve all my problems).

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You probably already know this but the "Yin-Yang option" is the "attention icon" on all Tamagotchi models and is supposed to be non-selectable. It does make sense that such a knock-off like this wouldn't bother to obey that rule. Seeing your review made me a bit more excited to eventually purchase one of these generic knockoffs. Incidentally, I was considering the penguin version because it appeared to stand but chance are I'll be treating it rather delicately. I'm still wondering if maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to disassemble the device in order to completely remove the reset button, in case it doesn't go back together tightly (although I might still tape the batteries down, so that might solve all my problems).

Yeah, I know about the attention-icon on the Tamagotchi line - it looks more like two connected faces to me, though. These 168-in-1 pets use it, too, and it also isn't selectable. Here's an example of that;

 

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It's even in the same place as it is on any Tamagotchi.

 

The Yin-Yang icon that koolaidman and myself are referring to is this one;

 

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It appears as one of the options in what would be the Connect menu on a Tamagotchi Connexion. As you can see, they've also directly copied the icon for that, too! It usually does nothing, but koolaidman found that it can transform your chosen pet into something ridiculous. :lol:

 

Anyway, I honestly wouldn't trust one of these to stand up very stably, even if it was a unit that doesn't reset itself when you put it down - the feet on it just aren't quite big enough for that. However, there are other casings that would stand up;

 

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This house version can be found on eBay under the name of "Popular Virtual Cyber Digital Electronic Pet Random Toy Handheld Game Villa Toy".

 

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And this square version is listed on eBay under the title of "Virtual Digital Pet LCD Electronic Game Machine With Keychain Square Shape Cute".

 

There are bound to be a lot of sellers using slight variations on these titles for their listings. They're also sold in a number of other casings, including, but not limited to, a bear, a small flip-lid circle, and even a ball-point pen - but none of those stand up.

 

I mentioned your suggestion about the battery-door in my virtual pet log yesterday, funnily enough. I reckon that you might be right on the money with that.

 

If you pick one up, please let me know how it goes, and what you make of it. I'd be interested to hear your take on it, as well as the outcome of the battery-door experiment!

 

Even though these 168-in-1 virtual pets rightly get a lot of ire when they're sold as counterfeit Tamagotchi Connection units, I do genuinely think that the generic versions can be a fun and bizarre little novelty for those who are already virtual pet enthusiasts - it's kind of like seeing an odd outside view of what virtual pets are, and what they do. I'm enjoying the stupidity of running this one alongside a couple of other fully-fledged virtual pets, purely because some of what it does is so weird and random. :lol:

 

EDIT: I'm so sorry, I almost forgot! Thankyou for the kind words about my review, too! I really appreciate it. :D

Edited by Penguin-keeper
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I have one of those 168-in-1 tamas! It's red though. It's actually my first tamagotchi as my mum wouldn't buy me a Tamagotchi Friends for Christmas. XP I still really like it though. The only thing is: the volume. I can't turn it down or anything! My mum hates the beeping noises it makes so it's hardly ever on. -_- I think I might try and open it sometime to see if I can mute it, but I don't have a screwdriver. :P So I'm kinda stuck. I might also make it a case. Anyway, it's not a bad fake tamagotchi. :) Also, do you know when it sleeps? I've never had it on overnight in case it suddenly beeps because it wants me to clean up it's mess or something. :D

Edited by Berryitchi

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Also, do you know when it sleeps? I've never had it on overnight in case it suddenly beeps because it wants me to clean up it's mess or something. :D

They don't sleep. :P

 

As I noted in my review, if you leave it for a while, the display will go blank, and the virtual pet won't do anything at all until you press a particular button to bring it back on again.

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They don't sleep. :P

 

As I noted in my review, if you leave it for a while, the display will go blank, and the virtual pet won't do anything at all until you press a particular button to bring it back on again.

 

OK, thanks! :P So even if it gets ill or something the screen'll stay blank? (I'm just scared to leave it on overnight, lol :D )

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OK, thanks! :P So even if it gets ill or something the screen'll stay blank? (I'm just scared to leave it on overnight, lol :D )

When the screen is blank, nothing will happen at all unless you press the particular button that wakes it up again.

 

I don't think that they even get sick.

 

They don't even die - it's just a matter of how long the batteries will last.

Edited by Penguin-keeper

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When the screen is blank, nothing will happen at all unless you press the particular button that wakes it up again.

 

I don't think that they even get sick.

 

They don't even die - it's just a matter of how long the batteries will last.

 

OK, thanks! ^_^ Maybe I can finally turn mine on permanently... :D Thank you!

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OK, thanks! ^_^ Maybe I can finally turn mine on permanently... :D Thank you!

No problem - you're welcome! :)

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No problem - you're welcome! :)

 

Maybe I'll turn it on tomorrow as it's the weekend and I could write a log for it! ^_^ Thanks again! (BTW I see you have a tamagotchi Mini 20th Anniversary..... I may buy one of them. What's it like? :D )

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(BTW I see you have a tamagotchi Mini 20th Anniversary..... I may buy one of them. What's it like? :D )

I think that the 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Mini is a good starter Tamagotchi for someone who's never experienced a real one before (after all, other virtual pets aren't the same thing as the original Bandai creation, and they don't play the same; "Tamagotchi" isn't a generic term, after all - it's a brand-name). I also think that it's a good choice for a Tamagotchi or general virtual pets enthusiast who wants a less-demanding virtual pet to run alongside others. They're not too needy. (Also, you can turn the sound off on them if you need to. ;))

 

That said, those strengths can also be a weakness - they aren't very interactive and they don't do a whole lot compared to either the original 1996/1997 Tamagotchis, or any of the later models, or most competing virtual pets. This can lead to them getting a bit boring, especially if you already have experience with a variety of other virtual pets.

 

If you'd like to know more of my thoughts, I used to keep a virtual pet log here, and I logged my 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Mini for a substantial chunk of it. Basically, I had a disappointing initial impression of the 20th Anniversary Mini, but it grew on me over time. It's a nice little thing for what it is.

 

It's worth pointing out that, even though there are now three different series of shells for the 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Mini, the software on all of them is identical, so there's no need to get more than one, if you decide to pick one up.

Edited by Penguin-keeper

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It's worth pointing out that, even though there are now three different series of shells for the 20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Mini, the software on all of them is identical, so there's no need to get more than one, if you decide to pick one up.

 

OK, I'll check that out! Thank you so much, maybe I will get one of the Mini's.... ^_^

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Weird, most people say 'I have painfully raised this piece of plastic' or 'I hate owning this' but last night I went on the (Fake) Tamagotchi Club and I found people giving these away ONLINE for FREE.

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Weird, most people say 'I have painfully raised this piece of plastic' or 'I hate owning this' but last night I went on the (Fake) Tamagotchi Club and I found people giving these away ONLINE for FREE.

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Weird, most people say 'I have painfully raised this piece of plastic' or 'I hate owning this' but last night I went on the (Fake) Tamagotchi Club and I found people giving these away ONLINE for FREE.

I'm going to guess that that's some sort of promotion from a manufacturer, as opposed to real individuals giving them away.

 

Reason being, sellers on Wish.com (a site for buying cheap goods direct from China, which can be good for generic items, but which also houses more counterfeits than you can imagine - there's no such thing as genuine, there) often do this, with the customer only having to pay for the postage costs.

Edited by Penguin-keeper

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