Classic Tamagotchi Is Reincarnated In Modern Hardware

A modern Tamagotchi PCB design and built-up prototype

If you thought that Tamagotchis were a late ’90s fad that has faded from most people’s memory by now, you’d be wrong: the franchise is still alive and well today, with new models being released regularly. But even the original model from 1996, known as Tamagotchi P1, is being kept alive by a small group of enthusiasts. When ROM dumps of the original hardware began floating around the internet a couple of years ago, even those without the real thing could run these virtual pets in an emulator.

But the whole idea of the Tamagotchi hardware was that it was portable enough to carry around anywhere. If you’re among those who missed that part of the Tamagotchi experience, you’ll be pleased to know that [JC] designed OpenTama: a portable hardware platform that runs an emulated version of the original Tamagotchi P1 software. It’s about as close as it gets to those first-generation virtual pets, but with several additions that make your life easier.

The software platform is [JC]’s TamaLib which we featured last year; in effect it’s an open-source emulator that allows the Tamagotchi ROM to run on a variety of modern hardware platforms. It also contains several additional options like the ability to save and restore your progress or to select customized ROMs. The OpenTama hardware, meanwhile, is a proper 21st-century reimplementation of the original: a small, egg-sized PCB sporting an STM32 microcontroller driving an LCD or OLED display, powered by a 100 mAh battery that can be recharged through a USB-C port.

OpenTama is not limited to the TamaLib software, either: as an open-source general-purpose platform, it can also be used as a learning tool for embedded programming, so if you’ve always wanted to program your own virtual pet, or are simply looking to build a fancy egg timer, OpenTama’s GitHub page is the way to go. We’ve seen quite a few neat Tamagotchi-like projects recently: this 3D-printed one comes with a nice retro LCD screen, while this one’s giant size ensures you don’t forget to feed it.

25 thoughts on “Classic Tamagotchi Is Reincarnated In Modern Hardware

        1. Seriously, go get offended somewhere else. If the only thing you search for is that exact chip, then that’s what you are going to find. I’m not going to build this thing so i’m not going to look you an exact compatible chip, but i did take a look what is available.

        2. If you can’t take pretty much minimal snark for a clear fanboi suggestion that someone else should port it to his prefered chip (from a company that has built their empire with closed spec chips) then it’s “game over man, game over”. The questions were still valid even if not the nicest way to put it, but you slapping the “toxicity” card on the table even though you were not even involved, cheese man, talk about venomous cancel culture.

      1. @Jii said: “So is that the only STM32 chip type in existence? There’s no pin compatible chips around? Just easier to change the whole platform?”

        The STM32L072CBT chip used in the Tamagotchi clone is based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 core and so is the RP2030 chip.[1] So hardware-wise jumping to the RP2040 should be pretty easy. That plus the fact that the RP2040 is cheap and readily available (unlike the STM32L0 parts), and it has a free well documented open C/C++ toolchain are more reasons to use it.

        There are plenty of other manufacturers (fabs) that make microcontrollers based on the ARM Cortex IP who have, unlike ST Microelectronics (STM), plenty of stock available today. But the chip configurations will be slightly different (likely not directly pin-for-pin STM32L072CBT compatible) and even the C/C++ toolchain will be different and may not be free and well documented like with the RP2040.

        Take nuvoTon in Taiwan for example [2], many of their NuMicro series chips are ARM Cortex-M0/M4/M7/M23 based and parts are readily available.[3] BTW nuvoTon operates a six-inch wafer fab and in September 2020 nuvoTon bought Panasonic’s chip unit for $250 million in an all-cash transaction.[4] In the U. S. there is Nuvoton Technology Corporation America.

        1. ARM Cortex-M0 Based Chips

        2. nuvoTon Home

        3. nuvoTon @ Digi-Key

        4. nuvoTon – Wikipedia

  1. i honestly got one of these types of toys, because at the time, i thought the tech was interesting. i had one that could connect to others. however, as a form of entertainment, it was dumb as hell. who wants a tiny device in their pocket that requires constant attention and maintenance? 😋

  2. I see a future when this tamagotchi thing is put in your wristwatch, and then the tamagotchi gets angry if you do not exercise enough, or you (parents?) can program a todo list in it and it rewards you if you’ve done some chores.

  3. Would be interested in two things, does the board fit into an old case? And wondering if anyone knows how to update the ROM on a real one?

    My daughter got one several years ago but it is in Japanese so very difficult to play. I found one piece of software that relied on a specific version of NFC to connect and change to English. Unfortunately, my phone was too new and it failed.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated 😀😀

  4. When these were a thing, I wanted to make a gigaboss, didn’t have time.

    Only thing I had mapped out was the ‘work hard’ button would have NO use. It would only get you more work.
    The ‘bullshit’ button would be the 99% response to the boss.
    Until he threw a tantrum. Then you hit ‘pretend to work’ once. Then ‘Confuse/Explain’ once. Then back to ‘bullshit’

    Should do it as an app. Nobody would see it. Needs more anyhow.

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