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A while back, we reported on the news that two of the world's most famous 'virtual pet' brands – Pokémon and Tamagotchi – were joining forces in the form of Eevee x Tamagotchi, a keyring-sized gadget which contains (you guessed it) your very own monochrome Eevee to look after. Now, several months after the Japanese launch, we finally have one of these beeping trinkets in our possession, so we thought you might like a quick impressions piece.

Let's get the basics out of the way first. Eevee x Tamagotchi is, as you might expect, very much like a standard Tamagotchi. It's slightly smaller than the original design (and is a little thicker, too) but is a similar size to the updated model Bandai released to mark the 20th birthday of its virtual pet phenomenon.

The front of the device features the monochrome LCD display, which hasn't really changed a great deal since 1997. It is accompanied by three buttons which are used to change settings and generally interact with the Eevee character. Once you start it up, it's very much a typical Tamagotchi; you need to feed it (either on large meals or smaller snacks), play with it (there are two mini-games available, which we'll come to shortly), clean up the hairballs that it sheds (no poop here!) and even turn off the lights when it falls asleep. If you've ever owned a Tamagotchi in the past 20 years, all of this will be instantly familiar (apart from the lack of poop).

The two mini-games are how you entertain Eevee and keep it happy, beyond simply feeding it and cleaning up its discarded hair. The first involves using the A and B buttons to collect five items of falling fruit, while the second has you repeating a musical sequence played by Eevee. These are relatively basic games and it's hard to lose at them, but they're a mild diversion from the basic 'guess the direction' game that shipped with the original Tamagotchi back in the '90s.

Eevee x Tamagotchi adds value by giving you the chance to evolve Eevee into one of its many forms. Depending on which form you want – Flareon, Jolteon, Vaporeon, Leafeon, Glaceon, Espeon, Umbreon or Sylveon – you have to perform certain actions. For example, if you want to evolve into Flareon then you need to collect the corresponding icon during the fruit-drop mini-game instead of collecting your fifth and final piece of fruit. The 'mon will then evolve in a few days, provided you continue to look after it.

There are three bonus evolutions to unlock, too: Pop Star Eevee, Team Rocket Eevee and Ditto Eevee. These all require certain conditions to be met, and getting all of them is quite a challenge.

Given that Eevee x Tamagotchi has only been released in Japan so far – and we've no word on a western launch – it should come as no great shock to learn that the unit only offers Japanese text. Thankfully, with only a handful of options available ('Feed' and 'Play', with two options for either of those) it doesn't take long for you to memorise exactly what does what. We also noticed that it's surprisingly hard to actually kill Eevee; you have to leave the unit unattended for well over a day to cause it to return to its egg form. While we're probably not the most seasoned Tamagotchi players here at Nintendo Life, we seem to remember that death came a lot more swiftly (and regularly) on the original units, but that could just be us.

If you're a fan of either series, then the chances are you've already moved heaven and earth to secure one of these units – a task that appears to be becoming harder by the day, as several big online exporters have completely sold out. While recommending Eevee x Tamagotchi is perhaps a stretch for casual players, it's interesting to see how The Pokémon Company and Bandai – two firms that were sworn enemies during the Pokémon and Digimon war of the '90s and '00s – have fused their beloved properties together in a form that makes sense.

By removing the 'good' and 'bad' mutations of a traditional Tamagotchi and replacing them with a wide range of evolutions that require different tactics, the longevity of this device is arguably extended way beyond your typical virtual pet; the only downside to this is that by giving the player the chance to directly control each evolution, that unpredictable sense of discovery which made the original Tamagotchi so addictive is sacrificed.

Still, this pocket-sized throwback is unique in that it can tap into not one but two sources of nostalgia for millions of people all over the globe, so here's hoping the powers that be see sense and release it globally at some point.

Thanks to GameBoy Shack for kindly providing the Eevee x Tamagotchi used in this feature.