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I started running my Pocket Biscuit for the first time and rather than wait long enough to collect enough information for a review and then forget to write it, I thought I'd just post what I found out about it.

I found three sources of information on it. Firstly, Tamenegerie has a write up of it which explains the menus, controls, games, and the time ranges for specific functions. Secondly, this video  presents mostly guesswork on how it runs but does provide a better explanation of how the singing game works. It’s also kinda unintentionally funny because of the guy’s English (on the cute side, not manifesting xenophobia XD) and underwhelming reactions. Finally, this Tamazone log by Tamatama(^o^)  provides general information but notably mentions randomly occurring discipline events where the band members act out and also death from neglect.

Just to make things less messy, I'm going to group my current and future findings and speculations under category headings. So lets begin.

Instructions
It's allot more helpful to think of the button arrangements as having two select buttons in the middle, a cancel button for the A button (far left), and a confirm button for the D button (far right). When in the menus with two options, the left select button selects the upper option while the right button selects the lower option. In the case of the character menus, selecting options is only initiated by pressing the confirm button/D.

The icon shaped like the Pocket Biscuit only initiates the rock, paper, scissors game if confirm/D is pressed when on the screen displaying the chart number. Letting the characters win counts as a successful round which must be done at least twice for all games. I believe that this chart number is analogous to a Giga Pet's overall score as it seems to go up when certain care factors are met, such as disciplining the band when they act out or decreasing the stress meters. The screen displaying the days remaining makes me curious if this ultimately influences the Pocket Biscuit's lifespan and thus the band only dies if it reaches zero.

The lighting bolt icon should only be used when the device beeps for anything other than empty hunger meters. Refer to Tamenagerie for the rest of the icons.

Similar to a Giga Pet, the sound can be turned off in the clock menu which is activated when the A/cancel button is pressed. The left select turns the sound off while the right button turns it back on.

Now for the singing game, which is the bottom option in the musical note menu. Based on the video I found, I believe Tamenagerie is incorrect and that this is a really a "mimic the tune" game meant to simulate singing practice, not dancing to music. When this game starts, about 5 rapid notes play and a small musical note in the upper corner changes based on the pitch. The left select button produces a low pitch while the right one produces a high pitch. There are three rounds where each band member sings a tune but the tune only changes if it is mimicked correctly. Thus, if the imitation is wrong the first time, the next round gives a second chance at it. Furthermore, the round ends when an incorrect note is played which helps pinpoint which notes are correct and which need to be changed.

For other people who (probably like me) are a little tone deaf, its somewhat easier to guess the notes by comparing the next distinct pitch to the first. Thus, if the next sound is lower, the previous sound was higher and made with the right select button. Likewise, if the next sound is higher, the previous sound was lower and used the left select button. Having multiple of two of the same note makes it harder to figure out what was played, but I find tapping out the rhythm helps (I should make a note to check if the round stop from inactivity, as that would definitely give some wiggle room to figure out the rhythm).

Programming/Design
As Eggiweg aptly put it, the Pocket Biscuit comes with a screen with a limited viewing angle, like most vintage oddpets virtual pets. My favourite penguin hoarder, Penguin-keeper, notes that “[t]he viewing-angle issue is probably due to how the device was stored over the years or due to lower-quality polarisers in the display than the ones used by Bandai, or sometimes a combination of both”. I have to tilt mines almost vertically downward to get a clear view. Although, it looks like it was designed to be looked at when the device is held horizontally and directly in front of the owner/player/band manager. I wonder if mine might have some pixel issues since most of the rapid animations have some faint pixels and some of the normal animations, such as the eyes of the first band guy sleeping.

I’ve discovered that the middle meter that measure arrogance is a bad meter since the time it got maxed out for the two guys, the virtual pet beeped. The arrogance meter is filled by drinking sake – which puts the members to bed for around 5-10 minutes – and going to the bar/night club (only for Teru). I think the meter depletes when playing any game (not sure about rock, paper, scissors). I don’t know what the point of the sake is aside from maybe it acts as a snack and gives the “band manager” some time off – although it’s pretty easy to feed them. I’m glad to know that sake isn’t a necessity for keeping them healthy as even though I hear sake is sweeter and less alcoholic than western alcohol, it still has alcohol in it. The day where I kept giving it to them thinking the arrogance meter was a good thing, I was keenly aware how that habit in the real world would just turn them into alcoholics – which is not uncommon among musicians (or at least among rock musicians who seem to have more problems).

The stress meter for the guys goes down when going either to karaoke or the bar/night club. Teru can only go to the club since Udo refuses, probably because he’s self-conscious. The girl, Chiaki, just flat-out falls asleep when both places open and I don’t know how to get her stress meters down – or even why they give her options she can’t use. Maybe it was for showing she was more proper? I wonder if realistically she might have tried going to a host club instead (ha ha). The characters do indeed have some programming differences as Udo gets hungrier faster and Chiaki starts crying if someone’s hungry.

When playing the music note games, all three band members will lose around quarter of their hungry meters for roughly each game and up their stress meter. Otherwise, hunger depletes naturally over time. Four meals fill up a meter and it seems that as long as the meter isn’t completely full, the characters can be fed again. If they’re full, they’ll refuse to eat. Returning back to the singing game, I think there might be predetermined patterns for the notes since I think I’ve heard some of the variations before. A major I have with this game is that the notes they used sound way too similar, and I know they definitely could have used more sounds. Next to that, they could’ve gone a little slower since it’s a memory game.

It seems the chart score refreshes to 50 each day but I haven’t been able to get over 50 because I’ve failed the singing game so much. Playing the games well seems to up the score as does using discipline when appropriate. So far, I’ve only seen the band acting out by Udo kissing Chiaki – either a kiss on the cheek or the weird, erasing-where-the-lips meet variation – and Udo and Teru fighting. They fought 3 times on Sunday and it wasn’t because they were high on the arrogance meter. Maybe it was a dramatic betrayal arc that ended so anticlimactically with me, the band manager, yellin’ at them. The “crying” sprite kinda makes them look like they’re smiling... which isn’t natural unless they’ve got some Canadian in them. Or maybe they’re trying to cool it because they think I have connections or they don’t want to go begging on their hands and knees for a job, like many in the entertainment industry (who might have to take some degradation as part of the industry). Anyway, using the discipline meter appropriately does indeed increase the chart score. I thought Udo and Chiaki getting all lovey-dovey was okay but disciplining them is still seen as healthy. I’m guessing its because singleness and the illusion of marriageability is thought of as a genuine marketing angle – except for K-pop guys where their gayness feeds the fangirls’ inner fujoshi-crazed hearts (nothing more blatantly terrify than a teenage girl’s hormonal brain). On the Japanese side, I heard of the popular band AKB48 being banned from dating and some member getting seriously penalized.

Tamenagerie notes that the singing game makes the band sing altogether but I have found that playing either of the music note games enough time actually causes a special animation likely intended to evoke the impression that the band is practicing. I’m speculating that the Pocket Biscuit actually has some inner meters or requirements that if the games are played enough times, the band will get a noticeably higher rating when they preform during 7-9 p.m.. They can actually perform many times during those hours but, as Tamenagerie implies, only playing once may actually be what they’re supposed to do. I remember making them play 3 times in the same hour and the ranking kept dropping. Maybe they sickened the audience like a repeating ad. I wonder if whether them playing every hour could get them more points.

Gameplay
I speculate that the Pocket Biscuit might be a little like a Giga Pet in regards to how doing the music note games more seems to up the chart ranking achieved before the first performance of the day. Thus, the music note games might be a little like how the tricks on a Giga Pet up the discipline meter which contributes to the overall score.

Overall, it appears the Pocket Biscuit was designed so that the group practices repeatedly in the morning and afternoon – with the appropriate slew of ramen breaks – for their performance in the evening. Of course, any fights or image-breaking kissing has to be broken up during this time. When 7-9 p.m. hits, they go on air and jam after whatever weirdo finishes performing – the bizarre cowboy/tassel guy with the obnoxious whistling was not appreciated. Then Chiaki goes to bed and Teru and Udo go out to karaoke to blow off some steam. Finally, Teru and Udo have to told to go to bed also and they sleep till 9-10 (can’t remember). Teru and Udo have to be woken up manually.

Not sure where the rock, paper, scissor games fit in or whether there is a way to reduce stress aside from karaoke – especially for Chiaki. Also, whether sake actually does something useful and – more importantly – if there is a particular point where staying at 50 on the charts isn’t good enough. One important element left to be discovered is what strategy is needed to help Pocket Biscuit rise in the charts. That, ultimately, could be the gameplay ending mechanic since if the Pocket Biscuit is more video game-like than virtual pet-esque, it would have significantly reduced replayability. That’s one of my complaints with the Giga Pets since the creatures don’t change and thus when you played it once – and had a monkey destined to live for eternity – you’ve seen it all.

:wacko::marumimitchi: :nyatchi: :chohimetchi::wacko::marumimitchi: :nyatchi: :chohimetchi:

Hope some of you found this humorous in addition to being informative. My interest in music has deepened over these last few years and that’s led to learning more about musicians in general.

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Time for a much smaller update (although anything's smaller compared to the first post).

Programming/Design

Turns out that the chart score does not refresh to 50 each day. Mine stayed at 48. One notable discovery I made today was that not performing at all doesn't decrease the chart score. In fact, my chart score jumped from around 53 to 60 while the popularity meter went down a few bars. This makes me wonder if chart score increases might be ultimately calculated based on the meters characters have when Chiaki goes to bed. I though I might as well test out what happens when no performing is done since I had only gotten 10 successful dance games and nothing else. This really alters what the gameplay should be, as I'll note below in that section.

The Vpet beeped at 10 a.m. and I found everybody sleeping. Chiaki is apparently supposed to be up before anyone else so I wonder if that's inconsistent. It happened again the next day and all of them were sleeping in at 10 and only got up when I made them get up. The arrogance meter filled a little bit so I guess that sleeping in general raised that meter, as it does for sake.

It seems to be whatever menu was left open stays like that and things don't revert back to the idle screen. I heard this really weird sound from it in the morning which was like the sound the band makes when they're singing after a couple of games. Because I had left it on the clock screen, I didn't see anything if there was anything to see at all - since the special animation is just cycling through the icons with no sprites on the screen.

It turns out the kissing animation has two variations. Udo is either kissing Chiaki... or Teru, complete with hearts surrounding them. It's probably played for laughs and could just be Udo thinks that's funny, but it could also be construed as both Udo and Teru are bisexual. (Reading too much into this could suggest that Udo's refusal to go to the bar - which just shows talking with a female character (as it is for Teru) - could imply he's demisexual, but that term never existed when the Pocket Biscuit was made). I guess Udo needs to be disciplined to be told to keep his lips to himself... and away from his way too willing bandmates - who truly might just be playing along with the joke at the bandmanager's/owner's expense. Bizarrely, this kind of dynamic and all of the implications that could be garnered from it may not be all that uncommon in the entertainment industry, as I heard the parties with The Lord of the Rings cast were rather "wild" and I doubt the cast were all societal deviants. Of course, there's no reason to discount that the Pocket Biscuit is just using the animation as a joke.

Gameplay

In light of how I got the chart score to go up by around 7 points (assuming that 53 was the original number) by not performing, I wonder if the band is only supposed to perform to fill up their popularity score. But, I think how well they practice before hand could significantly alter the chart score since when I did more music note games, the score only dropped to 46 instead of 43 like the previous day with little training. It makes me feel that maybe performances should only be done if the band has practiced an awful lot to get positive scores, however that will still lead to the stress meter maxing out as it does when allot of games are played. I still have to test whether playing enough games actually reduces stress and hopefully along the way I'll confirm whether game playing has a cumulative effect or just a short term effect. I'll also try to test if chart scores can be increased gradually by disciplining the band and lowering stress by karaoke; in other words, seeing if the popularity meter is of greater importance than anything else.

I'm having mixed feelings on the Pocket Biscuit since it has low replay value if the only thing that can be influenced is chart scores and there is no other payoff from treating it well - like a regular virtual pet that rewards good care with special characters. Personally, it doesn't fit with my virtual pet lifestyle if I have to constantly play games to get any improvement, since then it's just a video game and not a background device.

Edited by Knighttchi's Ballad
Another update
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I played the rock paper scissors game a few times and my band's chart ranking went from 97 back to 50 again. Wonder if it just has an effect chart rankings or if it affects overall health.

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Posted (edited)

Well, looks like my Pocket Biscuit run has come to a close.

5rjUKiR.png

That's the only thing the device will do besides display the clock. Any idea what it means, Eggiweg? You tend to find out those things (I'm guessing you know some Japanese).

There have been some startling developments with my Pocket Biscuit, besides the above of course.

Programming

As both Eggiweg and I have experienced, the rock, paper, scissors game reduces the chart score back to 50 and this effect occurred for me after 2 won games. It also increases stress and might have done something to the teamwork meter but it's incredibly slight.

Chiaki was up before the others at 10 so I guess her sleeping patterns are erratic. I also caught the sprite of Teru kissing Chiaki so it's not just Udo being wild/a joker. Also, I got Udo to go to the bar which might indicate that the characters' actions have a bit of variability.

From 2 days of no performances, the popularity meter completely emptied today and turned on the attention light. That led to the device beeping maybe every hour and I thought I was out of luck trying to get it up again till the group could perform. I'm not sure if that was completely the case because I never tested playing more games to see if that upped the meter. Bizarrely, every time the device beeped the chart score went up by 1, thus indicating improvement. Since the popularity meter was empty, I concluded that it meant the band had lost all of its fans and had faded into obscurity. Thus the chart score continuing to go up - and possibly down once or twice before resuming - might imply the band had attracted a niche audience or was gaining a cult following. Of course, that is assuming this isn't some sort of programming oversight since the developers may have never expected someone to be as lazy as me and not play the games that much. The last time I checked, the score was at 93 and I'm guessing that it may have reached 100 and caused the ending screen. This leads me to speculate that perhaps the device is programmed to end not at the end of the 15 day count down, but actually when 100 is reached. Thus, the rock, paper, scissors game might actually be intended to prolong the life of the Pocket Biscuit and maybe reaching 0 would actually cause the characters to continue till the end of the 15 day span.

I haven't messed with the clock of my Pocket Biscuit so it looks like the day counter actually updates when a full 24 hours have passed and not when the band wakes up.

Gameplay

This section is all about presenting how I think the Pocket Biscuit is supposed to be played and how the various functions interact. Now one important factor in my run of the device is that I played very little of the singing game and barely ever won it. That might have caused the resulting chart scores after every performance to never rise above 50 but instead drop. Based on today's events, I speculate that the chart feature may actually be a measurement of neglect and that continued neglect - manifested in one way by the empty popularity meter - may actually cause a game over by the chart score rapidly rising to 100. This would explain why the rock, paper, scissor game counter unintuitively causes a chart drop and no performances causes it to rise. I never tested leaving the band members hungry and thus I hypothesize that based on my theory, it would indeed cause the chart score to rise. This presumption then leads to two paths for the Pocket Biscuit: practicing and performing to continue the game to gradually reach a game over closer to the 15 day end, or neglecting the members to reach a game over prematurely. If this is true, then the Pocket Biscuit is designed to make the player win regardless of the effort they invest in the band.

Final Thoughts

I'm actually glad its over. The Pocket Biscuit is just not the kind of virtual pet I prefer as its more of a video game than a virtual companion. Part of me wonders if maybe there was some sort of payoff if I kept with it but then again, virtual pets from this era don't have dramatic surprises. I'm not sure what to say about its portrayal of a musician's life since part of me feels that all of the little details they presented may not have been intended to hold meaning because the audience are inexperienced children. I will say that it's dramatically different routine does make it stand out from a typical virtual pet and this does fit its concept fairly well. Whether it is worth adding to one's collection really depends on the users preference for playing minigames. Although, I know some people like collecting virtual pets for their cool shells and I can't deny the Pocket Biscuit has a very appealing design. At least this Vpet wont make me associate its shell with disappointment like the Nekotcha.  

 

 

Edited by Knighttchi's Ballad
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解散 (かいさん) - kai san means 'dissolving' - The band broke up

チャートケンがい - chaato ken gai - I think this means you fell off the charts

I also neglected my pocket biscuit and got the same game over screen :lol:

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Thank you! Based on your translations, my conclusion that it would always let you win isn't true. I don't remember when I saw that screen but I'm guessing that after the performance period was over - or maybe earlier - the score may have dropped down to 0 if not potentially rolled over from 100. I only ran the thing for 6 days and properly for maybe 3. Surviving 3 days with semi-neglect (I did feed them) is pretty hardy for a virtual pet.

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