Nano Baby Virtual Pets | My Favorite 90s Toy!
Born in 1987, one of the many crazes I partook in was the 'virtual pet' fad. And I have to admit it was my favorite of all the 90s fads (even better than Pogs!)
The Tamogotchi was the original and the most widespread of the toys, and was the first virtual pet I owned. However, my best friend had a more unusual type - the Nano Baby - and boy was I jealous. My mum took me from shop to shop to find the elusive Nano but to no avail, until one day we found them by accident in a random market and it certainly made my day. I was instantly in love.
You see the Nano Baby had better graphics than my Tamogotchi, plus the character was more detailed and had more pronounced stages of life. It also stayed at different ages for longer, rather than my Tamogotchi which I seem to remember aged a few years every day. Of course, the graphics were....well I'll be kind and call them 'retro', but I didn't even have a computer at home at the time so they were enough to fill a child with wonder. Things have advanced quite a bit since the nineties (for better or worse...you decide :))
One stand-out memory involving this toy was an unfortunate incident at primary school where me and my best friend were playing with the pets whilst hiding out in the girl's bathroom at break time, and someone decided to tell tales and my Tamogotchi was confiscated. I am ashamed to say I was reduced to tears due to the fact that my pet was 99 years old. One day (one day!) off reaching the maximum 100 years old. I was gutted. And I never did try to reach the 100 year mark again after the hours I spent making sure it was fed and cared for the first time around. Sad times.
What Do They Do?
There are several basic functions which you activate repeatedly to keep your baby healthy; you feed them (with a milk bottle or ice-cream), play with them (there is a choice of two games), discipline them, switch the light on/off (when the baby needs to sleep or wake up), give them medicine (when they become ill), and wash them (or clean up after them).
There is a 'scales' icon on the screen too which gives you a measure of the baby's stats. This allows you to check up on their progress, including age, weight, hunger, happiness and discipline levels. You can also choose to switch the sound off if you wish.
The game begins with a doctor delivering the baby, and you can then name the child (girl or boy - it's a surprise!) and start caring for him/her. The game continues for about 12 days, which is when the baby turns 3 years old. During that time, the baby has a couple of evolutions in image as they grow into a toddler. It's quite exciting to see the changes happen!
If you successfully looked after the baby until they reach the age of 3, a brother or sister will then be born. If you care for this baby for the whole cycle too, you will have completed the aim which is to have a happy family. Aw.
So What Is So Good About Them?
Kids love to look after their own pet creatures, and virtual pets are an ideal 'pet' for children since they often have limited attention spans and commitment! I personally found the Nano baby concept very exciting as a child, and very addictive.
The Nano is an ideal toy to carry around in your pocket all day, and it certainly became my most treasured possession. The graphics may be basic compared to today's standards, but they are extremely cute. I remember my Nano had a lime green translucent exterior which I loved - I thought it was very cool that I could see some of the circuitry inside!
I believe Nano pets would make a really fun gift for a kid even in today's high-tech world, or they would be an awesome piece of nostalgia for someone who loved them as much as I did as a child.
There are a few variations of the Nano virtual pet - a baby, a dog and a kitten - and there are also plenty of Tamogotchi toys available too. Here are a few examples:
This first video shows how the Nano baby works, and the second video shows the Nano kitty: