Digimon virtual pets in battle

Digital Monster, the Original Digimon Virtual Pet

October 23, 2021


Find out everything you need to know about the first Digimon virtual pet. Revisit the craze, gameplay and some Digimon facts.

Bandai rocketed Digimon to fame in the late 1990s, after toy tycoons identified a gap in the market for a battle ready, player-vs-player digital pet. Unlike the Tamogotchi, Digimon captivated 90s kids’ imaginations by enabling them to train and battle against others to evolve.

The Digimon virtual pet spawned a franchise including an anime, toyline, comic and trading card game

The “Digital Monster” or Digimon was released in 1997 by Bandai – the same Japanese toy company behind the Tamagotchi-craze. Much like its predecessors, Digimon was a massive hit (over 14 million units sold worldwide to date). From caring for these tiny digital monsters to preparing them for battle, 90s Digimon players were immersed in the franchise that would lead to an anime, toyline, comic, and trading card game.

The Digimon lifecycle of hatching, training, battling and evolving

The Digimon lifecycle

Original devices all begin with a Baby Digimon. Once hatched, it was time to train, care for and evolve the fantasy creature to prepare it for battle with other players to see who was better. 

Throughout Digimon’s life, the pets will develop into more powerful, more vital creatures as they age. When a Digimon dies, it respawns as a Digi-Egg; once the egg hatches, the Digimon goes through its life cycle again.

The concept was marketing gold in the late 90s. Players were hooked on the gameplay loop of seeing their Digimon evolve into stronger, more powerful creatures they could battle their friends with.

Buy Digimon Digivice on Amazon

90s Digimon commercial

The most sought after Digimon characters include the Teddymon, Darkmon and Devimon

Best Digimon starting characters

It was all about getting special characters like Teddymon, the famous puppeteer, Darkmon the Evil Digimon, Devimon clad in the jet-black cloth, Meramon the Flame Digimon, and Monzaemon – which is an Ultimate Level Digimon. The higher up in the ranking, the more vital the Digimon will be. You can get these unique Digimon entities by growing or evolving. The more often you play, the better your chances to become a more sought-after Digimon.

How to play Digimon virtual pet guide

Gameplay basics

If you can’t remember how to tend to your virtual pets, here’s a mini-guide on keeping your Digimon happy and healthy. The original product has three buttons: the A button scrolls, the B button activates the selected function, and the C button cancels out whatever is on the screen. Similar to Tamagotchi, the reset button can be reached with a pen or other sharp object.

Check out the gameplay categories below. Any good virtual companion owner will know it’s about avoiding an early grave with these tiny creatures. Before battles, you have to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.

  • Status Checks – The game always begins by checking the pet’s age, weight, strength, hunger, and energy on the status screen. That’s how you determine what the pet needs to prepare for battle.
  • Feeding  – Of course, you have to feed the pet devices; otherwise, they wouldn’t survive.
  • Training – The training function is used to lose weight and increase strength.
  • Cleaning Up – Yes, this is another one of those toys you have to clean up after. When a Digimon poops, you have to clean the droppings, so they don’t become ill.
  • Healing – If a Digimon gets injured during battle, you have to nurse them back to health before they fight again.
  • Battle Mode – This is where you can link to another owner’s Digimon and begin a battle.
  • Toggling – When a Digimon sleeps and the lights remain on, the virtual monster can’t get enough energy for a high-power evolution. It turns out this pet needs a dark space to get some rest.

There are many versions of the Digimon virtual pet

Digimon device versions

Not surprisingly, Bandai released upgrades, updates and new devices throughout the late 90s to the early 2000s to keep fans interested.

The company came out with various versions like the Pendulum, which is the second in the series.

The Pendulum series generated other Digimon series, including the Pendulum 3.0, Nightmare Soldiers Pendulum, Wind Guardians Pendulum, and more. Bandai also created the Pendulum X series, Digimon iC, Digimon Mini, and WonderSwan (WonderSwan is a handheld entertainment console by Bandai). We also had the Digimon Digivice, which was an interactive device that looked like an egg. It was a smaller version based on the Digimon Adventure anime.

The Digimon 20th anniversary edition

Digimon 20th anniversary edition

Bandai came out with a 20th-anniversary edition in 2017. This special edition toy was only released in Japan and allows players to choose an egg type from the first five versions of the original toy, plus a few new ones you can unlock. The rest of the world got their hands on the gadget when Bandai released the Digimon 20th anniversary virtual pet worldwide in 2019.

If you’re in the market to buy, you’ll be glad to hear they’re relatively easy to come by.

90s Toys is an Amazon Associate and may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. All contributions help support the site.

90s Toys mascot lying on the floor reading some facts for peeps asked!

Peeps Asked!

Who created Digimon?

Digimon creator Akiyoshi Hongo is actually an alias composed of three separate people. Bandai created the pseudonym to recognize three of the minds behind the franchise.

Check it out!