Virtual pets on high-end mobile phones
For those one or two of you unfamiliar with Bandai's Tamagotchi, it was a playground sensation for months. Each Tamagotchi was a little digital pet stored on a small, flattened-egg shaped plastic gadget with a tiny little mobile phone-esque screen. You had to feed and nurture the little blighter by pressing various buttons, and at the peak of his abilities you could have him battle with rival pets via infrared.
And as mobile gaming still tries to tempt phone users away from competing pursuits - examining adverts and mini-skirts at the bus stop for example - a Scottish company called The Games Kitchen has teamed up with US-based Sega Mobile to try and rekindle our affections for lively little digital friends, by keeping their own brand on the most personal of personal data devices - your mobile phone.
Users of the service (called Sega Pet TV) will be able to download hamsters, dogs, cats, bears, lions, snakes and even an alien to look after, each of which is progressively more difficult to raise. The usual gimmicks will be included; a necessity to feed and water (shouldn't be too difficult in this weather) and the ability to teach the little critters a few tricks - a juggling snake would be a good start.
However, as is so often the case, Sega Pet TV will work on only the very latest media-rich mobile phone handsets with full colour screens and polyphonic sounds, and it's difficult to work out exactly which phones because the only Sega Pet TV site we could find it American. As far as we know, Hitachi SHP-300, LG 5350, Samsung NFU II (N400), Rainbow (A500) and Sanyo 4900 phones are foreigners to this land. We're also conscious that the service is in development for the latest Java-enabled phones rather than launching now.
It'll be interesting to see how long it takes this transatlantic collaboration to get off the ground, but if you're bored in the meantime, The Games Kitchen has run a previous 'wireless pets' initiative which O2 customers in the UK can take advantage of by texting the keyword 'PLAY' to 2614. Full instructions here. Vizzavi should offer the service elsewhere in Europe.