In the late 1990s, Tamagotchis were all the rage. Their colorful plastic eggs swung from Lisa Frank and plastic see-through backpacks, and well before smart phones, they were the electronic you hid under your desk during class. The originals featured little blobby monsters that would dance in non-player mode and that you had to feed, clean up after, and take care of during the day. They were often the last thing you’d do before going to bed and the first thing you’d do upon waking up. As soon as your alarm went off, you’d fly to your Tamagotchi, worried that it had died during the night. Fortunately, they were just surrounded in their own poop.
Since the initial rollout in 1996, there have been many similar toys. Tamagotchi eventually came out with different iterations such as dinosaurs, dogs, and cats. We had Pokémon and Digimon. There were the Sims and Neopets. None of them were quite the same. There were so many different varieties to choose from, and the purpose wasn’t so much to help something grow but to establish an entire life. You might also have to battle other people or search for lost items or design a house. There was nothing quite like Tamagotchis.
Almost two years ago, Hit-Point released Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, an Android game whose sole point is to entice kitties into your yard. Using gold and silver fish that they leave you, you purchase all the portmanteau a kitty might need: marble cooling pads, hamburger cushions, art deco cat trees, sashimi, you name it. Throughout the day, you check back on your yard to see who’s visited you and what they’ve used. The in-game camera allows you to take pictures of your guests playing with red balls or scratching on scratch pads or snoozing in their cat cubes. You can rename them, changing the derivative, “Fluffy” to the more apt “Lil Fucker,” and choosing which adorable picture should be their profile. The whole point is to entice as many cats to your yard as you can and bask in the warm glow of their company.
Neko Atsume reminds me of Tamagotchis not because the game play is that similar (There is no poop in the former.), but because they inspire the same sort of anxious excitement. You want to check in constantly to see who’s visited, and you’re always thinking of new ways to entice cats. Will they like the cat metropolis or the space heater? What is the point of the glass vase? Is it more worthwhile to get fancy food or cool toys? It’s just really satisfying to see the gifts and mementos rack up – it’s like being blessed by the Cat Gods.
Best of all, Neko Atsume is not an expensive game. Too often, the only way to play games is to drop real money – sometimes a lot. Neko Atsume is perfectly playable if you can be patient. Even if you can’t, the exchange rate means you can get hundreds of golden fishes (and thousands of silver ones) for only a few dollars. Basically, if you’re okay dropping $3 a month on an app, you can afford everything in Neko Atsume. This is a far cry from other games that want you to drop $50 a month on them just to open up the second character you absolutely need to advance.
So if you want an adorable little game that feeds your cat mania, I recommend Neko Atsume. And, if you don’t want to go through all the trial and error of figuring out how to entice the rare cats, click here. Tobbpitt has graciously written several articles on what the rare cats like, what mementos each cat gives, all of the different varieties, and much, much more. Now go forth and enjoy!
* Image taken from http://www.polygon.com/2016/1/22/10800378/neko-atsume-review-life-changing