Digital Monster, or Digimon, is a virtual pet device. Initially, it was a spin off of Tomagotchi aimed at boys. the underlying game engine is extremely similar, with a few small changes. The biggest being that two devices could link up to fight each other. Tomagotchi, and by extension, Digimom, were both pretty popular on the late 1990.

The game mechanics are simple as they are baffling. You set a clock, and then You hatch an egg you raise the creature that hatches like it's a kind of pet. You feed it, you clean it's poop, you train it to fight, and even put it to sleep. Every few days, depending on how you well you raise it, it'll evolve into something else. These forms can differ drastically both in appearance and power. It doesn't sound fun on paper, but I think it's one of the best games ever made. All of this is done on a tiny, low resolution, black and white screen the size of a postage stamp. I think the limited screen is charming, honestly. Look at some of these sprites. They look great.

The 1997 Original

I got one of these in the summer of 1998. I was so fascinated by the idea of a virtual pet that I just had to have one. My parents didn't understand the concept, and initially refused to buy me one. Some kid gave me a Tomagotchi, which I promptly destroyed by having it in my pocket while playing in the hose. My parents saw how upset this made me, so they bought me a Yellow Digimon.

Now, I haven't used one of these in over 20 years, and I don't intend to any time soon. Everything I talk about here is going off of memory. I loved this thing, despite how ridiculously basic it was. I loved the idea of having a tiny battle monster in my pocket. I was always ready to whip this thing and fight other kids. Keep in mind, this was before pokémon hit America, so the idea was unique and fresh. I loved feeding it, I loved training it, I loved watching it run around the screen, or sleep. it was really, really cool.I would almost always end up with either Numamon or Greymon. I knew there were other Digimon on the device, but I had no idea how to unlock them. Looking up the unlock methods now, I'm not surprised I didn't. These things took a lot longer to grow than modern devices. Which, in hindsight, made it more satisfying. You'd have to wait around 3 days after hatching an egg to get to a point where you could fight other people. The entire experience was hit or miss. A couple of kids in my school had these, and we'd fight infrequently. Fight's were extremely lopsided. if we both were on the same evolutionary level, it was fun. Whomever was on a lesser evolutionary level was almost guaranteed to lose. I didn't mind, and I was just happy to get to battle. Digimon on these devices tend to die after about 2 weeks, and it usually that happened over night. Though, occassionally, my Digimon would be killed in battle. I'd always want revenge, but by the time I'd get to a point where my new Digimon could avenge the old one, the murderer would be dead of old age.

Even though I only used this thing for a few months, it left a life long impression on me. Not long after I got my Digimon, the Pokémon cartoon debuted on UPN. Watching that cartoon lead me to getting my hands on the Gameboy game, which I imagined would be a lot like the Digimon pet for some reason. To this day, I'm disappointed that the Pokémon games don't have any kind of "Virtual pet" mechanics. They've kind of tried, but never successfully. It's extremely satisfying to raise a creature from birth, feed it, clean it's shit, train it, and watch it demolish your enemies. Pokémon not having this put me off of the games more than anything else. Even today. They're good game, at least, the 8-bit ones are, but pokemon don't feel like creatures that require care so much as a means to an end. To me, it's a missed opportunity.

For years, every so often, I'd look for something that gave me the same feeling this toy gave me. Nothing compared to it. Prices on these devices went insane over the years, emulated versions sucked, and I figured that I'd never play with one again. Until...

Digimon Version 20th

They re-released my childhood toy. Not only that, but they tried to improve it. When I got this, it was my 29th birthday. I randomly found it at gamestop and bought it instantly. I don't even remember why I went into the Gamestop. I don't usually shop there. I was genuinely excited. I think more than anything I just wanted to see the sprite art again. I got what I wanted, but this device is not even close to the one I had as a child. The same basic mechanics exist, but everything is different. Some things are better, some things are much worse. I'm glad it exists even if I'm not a huge fan of it.


The original device from 1997 had 5 different versions. Each were essentially the same game with different sets of digimon. This device consolidates all 5 versions into one device. You can choose what set of Digimon you want by selecting a specific egg to hatch. Not only that, but there are special eggs you can unlock that give access to even more Digimon. I don't know the exact number of monsters on this device, but it's gotta be over 100. It's completely insane. The original device only had like 15 or so. You'll never be able to raise them all, and so every hatch is unique. The device keeps track of which ones you've raised in a what is essentially the Digimon equivelent of a Pokédex. It's fun to watch it fill up. There's now a single player battle mode, which is a very welcome improvement. There are 100 stages, each harder than the last. It makes getting specific evolution requirements far more accessable to people who dont have anyone to battle, and it's fun. The battle system is improved over the original, and is far less of a crapshoot. There's also "TAG BATTLE" which is a 2 vs 2 thing. Oh thats right, you can now raise two digimon on the same device simultaniously. Finally, for those that chose to raise a single monster, there is the "COPYMON" function. basically, someone can send you a copy of any digimon on their Digidex to fight along side with. You can now look up the names of the Monsters. This was actually a problem with the original device. None of us kids knew what to call these guys.

What I think sucks

This is tough. I want to love this thing, but I can't. first off, the sheer amount of Digimon is overwhelming. I find myself raising all these different eggs, and I'm more concerned about getting through to the next egg than enjoying the egg I'm currently running. Evolution times are greatly reduced. What used to take two weeks now takes one. It takes away from the excitement of evolution because it happens on a daily basis now. Raising two digimon sounds great on paper, but it's simply not fun. it's a chore. The Digimon on this device poop way more frequently than the original or later devices, leading to both digimon constantly getting sick if you ignore the device for longer than 90 minutes or so. it's better to just raise one at a time and use COPYMON for tag battles. it feels like these devices were designed with the idea that adults would be using them, and yet they made it difficult to look away from it for long periods of time. It's my least favorite device for this reason alone, and it gave me the impression that my enjoyment of the original could be chocked up to me being a child as opposed to it genuinely being good. Finally, certain eggs are only unlocked if you fufill absurd requirements or have a specific device. It's my understanding that if you were insane enough to try to completely fill up the digidex, you'd never be able to because of these version exclusives. Yeah, I agree that the original was extremely basic, but most of this extra stuff does nothing to improve the experience. It detracts from it.


This thing isn't terrible, it's just half baked. It's cheap, so get one if you want it. Expect it to piss you off.

Digimon X Ver. 1

Digimon X is what happens when you make a series about Godzillas that shoot nuclear missiles even edgier. The device has a "X" painted on it that looks suspiciously similar to The Weeknd's stupid looking XO logo. Because the letter X written like shit is considered edgy for some reason. Furthermore, the LCD background of both V1 devices have what looks to be destroyed scenery as opposed to the peaceful rolling hills of the original and the Version 20th. V2 just has a vortex as the background. Finally, many of the Digimon have "X" tacked onto the end of their names. So cool.

About that "Ver. 1" in the name, this pet is the first in a trilogy of "versions". I'm not sure if it's officially noted, but the fanbase goes by this and so will I. Version 2 has been released in the US. Version 3 has not. to make things even more confusing, each "Version" consists of two devices. Version 1 has a RED & BLUE, Version 2 has GOLD & SILVER.... hmmm.... I don't know anything about version 3. I only have experience with the Version 1 devices right now, but I do own the Version 2 devices so eventually they'll be added here. From what I understand, gameplay mechanics across versions are identical save for Digimon roster and Quest Mode contents.

Black & Red

The black and Red v1 is the best looking virtual pet on the market. It's roster is "Augumon focused" for lack of a better term. I really enjoy this roster. It has 29 Digimon in it, and 30 quest missions. Connecting it with White and Blue v1 Unlocks a 31st quest mission. Beating that mission unlocks a 30th Digimon.

White & Blue

The White and Blue V1 is pretty slick. I don't like the roster as much. it's got a lot of wierd looking Digimon and they don't do anything for me. There are 29 monsters on this device. Connect it with Black & Red to unlock a 31st quest and a 30th Digimon.


This is what the Version 20th wanted to be, but couldn't due to it being a psudo remake. This is exactly what I was looking for. Returning from the Version 20th are the single player battles, now called "Quest Mode". This time, it's a lot more structured. Every time you complete a quest, you earn a special item or unlock a Digimon that you can raise later. Special items can be used to temporarily increase stats, or assist in raising of the digimon. an Experience Point system is introduced. It's no longer enough to simply evolve, you must gain experience and level up to unlock your monsters full potential. What level the Digimon is at when it's time to evolve can affect what digimon it evolves into next. The battle system is more complex than it's ever been. It relies on both RNG and your own timing. Leveling up makes a pre battle timing based mini game easier to play. During battle, special attacks can activate that'll show a close up portrait of your loyal pet prior to blowing it's enemy to Hell. Special items are extremely useful for getting past difficult Quest Mode stages and are useful for level grinding. I don't know if these items have any effect on pvp.Digimon now have attributes, similar to "type" in Pokémon, but far less convoluted. You're able to check the Attribute of any Digimon in the new and improved Digidex, now called "LIBRARY". Any Digimon you raise is added. You can also use it to check whatever evolution stage the Digimon you're looking up is at.

Gone are tag battles, COPYMON, multiple eggs, and raising 2 Digimon simultaniously. Unlocked Digimon are added to the evolution chart. You can still raise multiple Digimon if you really want to. The "BACKUP" feature allows you to store 2 digimon in stasis for as long as you want while you raise your main pet. This could be useful if you want to keep Digimon of a specific Attribute available for battles. You can also permanently save a specific Digimon for permanent use if you want. A much needed pause function has been added for those days I just want to relax.

What I don't like

Digimon evolve even faster than the Version 20th. it's kinda insane, but it's more understandable here. The battle system and quest mode kinda demand it. Digimon Attributes are worthless for Quest Mode, since a high level Stage VI Digimon can easily take down the Final Boss regardless of Attribute. The fact that you have to link each device together to unlock features is always bad. I don't know anyone else that carries one of these around, let alone, the one I'd need to connect to. The saving grace is that the RED and BLUE versions are different enough to justify buying both. Just don't try to raise both simultaniously. I ended up burning myself out doing that.