Like many people pushing their third consecutive decade, mine is a soul full of nostalgia. Thankfully, big marketing knows this, and the past couple years have been full of great pandering to my childhood, as they come for my wallet a second time all these decades later.
Leading this charge is the Digimon V Pet Color. A re-imagining of the original Digimon V Pets that first taught us responsibility and, subsequently, loss in the Clinton years, this project really sets the bar for how good your nostalgia bait needs to be.
For us, we specifically got the V Pet Color Version 1 and Version 2– the ones best known for sporting Agumon and Gabumon. While mostly similar, there’s a lot of neat flourishes between them- stuff like slightly different effect art. It should be noted that even with the original V Pets, different versions were more about the Digimon inside them- so those should be the primary force between any kind of buying decision.
What A Pretty Screen
By and far the star of the Digimon V Pet Color is its LCD screen. Unlike the dot matrix of the original pet, this updated screen instead paints a picture of how you probably remembered the experience. It’s really stunning seeing these Digimon brought to life this way- Digimon like Gabumon look so much more alive when you manage to include details like the stripes and its weird fur coat.
You even see it in the battle effects too- MetalGreymon’s giga destroyers look great on the screen, instead of just being generic Bullet Bills to fire at your enemies.
While that’s all great, what really impresses me is the amount of restraint they had in adding features with the screen. Despite having technology decades ahead of the original V pet, the V Pet Color acts like it’s running the same kind of tech. Sprite animations are incredibly limited, and it even keep the same menu style at the top and bottom of the screen.
The best mimicry, however, comes in the form of the backgrounds- these are made to look like the same static backgrounds of its predecessor, but can actually change depending on the time of day. Your Digimon will now frantically pace against a beautiful sunset or night sky, and depending on your actions you can even bag additional backgrounds for your Digimon.
Like I can’t stress how much the restraint helps with the nostalgia factor. As much as I loved the Vital Bracelet, having to do things like check an app takes you out of that original fantasy- that you’re playing with a V Pet again. With the V Pet Color these ideas are preserved nicely, since you’re still just navigating menus to clean up poop and tucking your little buddy in.
The Joys Of Parenting
Of course, there’s plenty to say about the actual act of raising your mega-bite-buddies. This is where the genius of the V Pet Color really shines. All the core tenets are there- you need to feed your Digimon, train them and the like. But considering we are no longer 7 years old with all the time in the world, a lot of changes have since been made to actually make it feasible in the modern age. Evolution times have been drastically shortened- you can get to the new Mega stage in about a week.
This sounds great at first glance, but it does make a bit of a mess when it comes to the evolution process. For those unaware, the Digimon V Pets are all about building the pre requisite stats to access the next stage. One tree of Evolution is always aimed at poorly raised Digimon, using the Care Mistakes stat. This includes letting your Digimon soak in its own filth, or waking it up in the middle of the night. Since these are all tied to the Digimon’s internal clock, you need to be actively targeting these Digimon or you run the risk of just not having enough time to meet the requirements to guarantee them.
I should point out it’s refreshing how unlike anything else raising a V Pet is. Even in the office we’ll suddenly get caught off-guard by a Digimon suddenly screaming for attention, either because it’s hungry or just crapped itself. Thankfully, if you’ve got enough screaming, needy things in your life, the V Pet does sport volume controls, but at times they can feel like they don’t do enough to actually keep the damn thing down.
That being said, there’s a lot of great new features too. I’m especially a fan of the Quest Battles- this adds a kind of multi-Digimon gauntlet, which helps you build up their win rate for evolutions, a key component for anything past the Champion stage. If you’re not in the habit of raising two Digimon at the same time then pitting them against each other, you’re going to want to use this mode to get your Digimon to their full potential. That’s no excuse for neglecting the regular training minigame though, since you’ll need it to boost your strength for those arena fights.
Genuine Quality Of Life
Of course, the joy of re-imagining a product like this is the amount of quality of life features you can sneak in. There’s a lot of modern Digimon features that made it in, like Jogress/DNA Digivolution or the Mega stage altogether. There’s also the absolute godsend of a USB-C charging cable. Your Digimon can finally die from your neglect, not the limits of its batteries.
That battery lasts a while, too. At no point in my own play time did I ever actually find myself worrying about the battery. Due to the more limited featureset, its got a surprising amount of life to it. I’d still recommend charging it regularly just so you don’t actually find out what happens when it’s low on battery, but it’s good to know that a day of doting on your Vedemon isn’t going to put you into panic mode by dinner time.
The other really good feature is the storage mode. If you yearn for a pre-partum life you can just ethically chuck your Digimon into the freezer- meaning no more screaming, poop or child neglect lawsuits while you enjoy a night out without 8-bit screaming. There’s also an alternate folder storage, which is more for if you think you’ve already attained Digital Perfection via Whamon but want another Digimon to fuss over in the mean time.
It’s not even about helping adults play with the V Pet- the fantasy of people spending all day doting on a single toy just isn’t feasible for anyone regardless of age, so having these kind of tools make it possible to have certain days where you just wanna hang out with your Whamon all day and other days where it’s just quite literally chilling out next to the fish and chicken.
For as great as the Digimon V Pet Color is, there’s naturally some gripes to go with it. Like I said earlier, trying to do a completionist run is going to be hard without some military precision on neglecting your Digimon just enough. There’s also the rosters itself- just like the original V Pet, stages past Champion are a little to the blase side, since you go from an impressive spread to really three routes, all largely defined by your Digimon’s win rate.
Seriously, I get that you wanted to stay true to the original V Pet’s roster but having Mamemon and his kin show up in both the V1 and V2 is extremely frustrating since I don’t think anyone willingly wants to gun for that for any reason outside of the hardcore completionists and the five Mamemon fans.
Still, that kind of nitty-gritty works for the Vpet Color as well. There’s lots of other new features as well, such as Traited Eggs to encourage you to try again after your beloved Betamon bites it. Basically this means that every next life cycle of your Digimon might give it a slight power boost, but you won’t know unless you try again. Poetic, right?
All in all though, the Digimon V Pet color is a truly unique experience that’s worth the RM319 price tag just on novelty alone. It’s an all-in-one toy that doesn’t require you to change screens or the like- and thanks to the Quest Battle mode, the ability to battle other V Pets feels more like an add-on rather than an essential part of play. Malaysian fans can get it via Impulse Gaming, and there’s even more versions coming in future- so you’ll definitely want to scratch your parenting itch with these Digital Monsters.
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