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The Digimon Virtual Pet was first released in 1997 by Bandai as the Spear Counterpart to the Tamagotchi. Indeed, early samples had the Tomogatchi name included on the package as a means of attracting potential buyers.

While Tamagotchi launched as an unexpected breakout must-have-toy in 1996, within a year its audience was shifting more decidedly towards girls while boys lost interest. Boys were instead moving to less "cute" alternatives such as Giga Pets, which even had a T. rex as an option. In response, Bandai decided to make a version of the Tamagotchi inspired more by western comic books and kaiju to appeal to boys. While popularity of Tamagotchi waned over the next few years, Digimon was well received enough to spin off into its own franchise and drop its Tamagotchi branding.

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Much like its original egg-shaped counterpart, the objective is to raise a digital creature, with its growth influenced by the amount and quality of care it receives. The unique spin this time is that two devices can be linked up to allow the creatures to fight one another, and in fact is necessary to get them to the strongest form possible. Five different versions were released, each having a different starting Digimon that would change into its own set of forms as it got stronger.

The original version was released in Japan in 1997. This was followed by a world-wide release in 1999. It would see various updates and improvements over the next decade, including a shift to appear more like the anime's Digivices while retaining compatibility with the original. There was a Digimon Mini that was also released to coincide with the Tamagotchi Mini that was released around the same time, but used a different type of connector to communicate. This continued up until around 2004 when the digital pet fad had truly been put to bed. A reattempt was made with the Digivice IC/Data Link in 2006-7.

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Subsequently, the goal of the later toys were changed to Gotta Collect Them All, first attempted with the D-Scanner that collected Digimon from scanning product barcodes. Then came the Xros Loader, which unlocked Digimon from scanning various sound patterns and is based around a territorial war minigame where you form parties of Digimon that can be combined, and lastly with the Appli Drive, a Yo-Kai Watch-esque trinket-based device that completely drops the virutal pet aspect in favour of gaining higher power levels from collecting as many trinkets as possible.

The virtual pet line was revived in June 26, 2017 with the Updated Re-release of the first v-pet, Digital Monster Ver.20th, which improved the original design by including all 5 original Digieggs to choose from, plus even more to unlock including an egg containing a whole evolutionary line of Digimon designed specifically for the anniversary. It was released worldwide in July 2019 for the international anniversary of the franchise's localization, under the name Digimon 20th Anniversary Edition in international markets. Availability became somewhat spotty, however, due to the great pandemic in 2020; some retailers never received their shipments and were unable to fulfill orders, while others like Target in the US had such an overstock that they were marked down for clearance. Yet others, like GameStop, received and shipped them on time as online-only products.

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In 2020, a new line of virtual pet devices was announced for release in early 2021, in conjunction with the series' 20th anniversary, known as the Vital Bracelet. Essentially a fitness tracker, the toy would allow users to raise Digimon via heart pulses and footsteps generated from performing physical activity, and engage in battles through interacting with wireless touch terminals or the smartphone app. While currently preorders are only available in Japan, the announcement claims the device is made with a "Global Standard", with instructions in English and no understanding of Japanese required to use the device, suggesting plans for a global export and release in the future.


Tropes related to the Digimon and Digivice virtual pets include examples of:

  • Advertising by Association: The original toys were branded as Tamagotchi toys. This was dropped once Digimon became its own media empire.
  • Badass Longcoat: Rasielmon has one trimmed with fur.
  • Body Horror: Some Digimon look rather messed up, with poorly-integrated cybernetics and exposed organs.
    • Andromon's original design had tendons and muscle explosed within his robotic parts.
    • Megadramon had tubes embedded into his arms
    • SkullGreymon and SkullMammothmon both have a fleshy organ in the middle of their rib cages, eyes in their eye sockets, and little to no flesh otherwise.
    • Vademon has an exposed brain.
  • Bowdlerization: The original international instruction manual removed references to Digimon dying, instead referring to them returning to a Megalithic Mainframe when they felt like they weren't being treated right. The cross grave marker images was also changed to a PC. However, the concept of the Megalithic Mainframe influenced the anime's depiction of the Digital World, including how Digimon don't die but instead return to the Digiegg state once their data is collected and recompiled.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Nanimon is Oyajitchi from sister series Tamagotchi, with a new name and a pair of sunglasses to try to make him look cooler. The anime redesigned him to look a bit more like a wrestler, but the v-pet uses a barely altered sprite. Unlike many examples, Bandai outright admitted it was done as an in-joke.
    • Several for Godzilla monsters:
      • Raremon's original design in the v-pet was a tall shambling sludge pile with vertical eyelids, a very obvious copy of Hedorah. It was later redesigned into a much more original idea of a failed cyborg suffering Body Horror.
      • In the v-pet, Devidramon has a design almost identical to Destoroyah, with the few missing details being a result of the tiny sprites used in the toy. He was redesigned to look more like Devimon with Greymon's head later.
      • Deltamon was changed in the anime to look like more like three existing Digimon that had fused together, giving it heads on its arms and two tails. The original v-pet design simply had a three-headed dragon with no arms and only two legs. While the anime was more subtle about it, both of these designs are derived from Godzilla's archnemesis, King Ghidorah.
      • Tuskmon's v-pet sprite looks a lot like Spacegodzilla.
  • Cyborg: MetalGreymon and Megadramon both have metal faces, mechanical parts embedded in their torsos, and weapons implanted on their arms. Andromon as well, having supposedly replaced all of its flesh with machine parts.
  • Dem Bones: SkullGreymon and SkullMammothmon. They're both mostly skeletons with a heart-like core in their chests and little else in the way of flesh.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Sprites for many of the Digimon included in the original v-pets were directly and sometimes blatantly based on popular Kaiju, including Godzilla monsters. When new artwork had to be made for the expanding franchise reference guides, many were changed to look less obviously like direct inspirations.
  • Evolutionary Levels: When a Digimon gets old enough, depending on how well it's been treated, it will Digivolve into a more powerful form. Unless it's especially poorly treated, in which it might become weaker but have the potential to get even stronger.
  • Expy:
    • Each of the original 5 toys had basically the same underlying code, but with different graphics for the Digimon and their attacks at each level. The strongest one required perfect care at all stages up until Champion, then fighting in at least 15 matches with a win percentage of at least 80%.
    • Each one also had a laughably weak Champion level Digimon that could then evolve into a much more powerful final form.
    • Hackmon and Zubamon both have a single, unbranching line that has minimal requirements for Digivolution and have weapon forms they change into to attack.
    • Monzaemon in particular got one in the form of Ex-Tyrannomon with the release of Version 5.
  • Kaiju: Rather than cute aliens in Tamagotchi, Digimon are monsters from the Internet in the form of this. Many of them, especially the more powerful ones, are said to be gigantic and are depicted as such in other media.
  • Fusion Dance: Several Digimon can DNA Digivolve/Jogress to into a fused Mega stage Digimon in the 20th Anniversary version.
    • BlitzGreymon and CresGarurumon can become Omegamon Alter S.
    • Aegisdramon and Machinedramon can fuse into Rust Tyrannomon.
    • Examon if formed from Breakdramon and Slayerdramon.
    • GraceNovamon is the combined form of Coronamon and Dianamon.
    • Tai's WarGreymon and Matt's MetalGarurumon can become Omnimon, though they must go through their Champion and Ultimate stages rather than Warp Digivolving from Rookie to Mega.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • How to get a Digimon to Digivolve in a particular way is not explained in the manual.
      • The In-Training form with Digivolve into its Rookie stage based on how many mistakes are made (going more than 10 minutes without addressing hunger, weakness, or sleep).
      • Rookies will in turn become a Champion form based on how many times they've been trained (as opposed to being fed vitamins), how many times they've been overfed (to the point they refuse to eat anymore), and how many mistakes have been made.
      • Ultimate forms can only be obtained by fighting enough times with a high enough win percentage (15 fights minimum with at least 80% wins)
      • For the Digimon 20th Anniversary Edition, Mega stage forms can only be obtained by making no more than 2 mistakes, except for the alternate methods to get Matt's MetalGarurumon and Tai's WarGreymon - 3 or 4 mistakes (no more or less) and 100 or more battles with Groundramon and Wingdramon respectively.
      • Jogress is the only method that's explained in the instructions, but which Digimon can Jogress and who they need to Tag Team with are not.
    • How to unlock new eggs isn't adequately explained in the 20th Anniversary Edition's manual. Some require unlocking enough entries in the Digi Dex (Slayerdramon and Breakdramon), connecting with enough uniquenote  v-pets (the five version exclusives), or connecting a Version 1 or 2 v-pet to a Version 3, 4, or 5 v-pet (Dorumon).
  • Killer Teddy Bear: Monzaemon is a stuffed bear and decently strong. He may or may not just be a costume full of Numemon. Ex-Tyrannomon fits except that he's a stuffed dinosaur rather than a bear.
  • Living Weapon:
    • The entire Digivolutionary line from Zubamon up to its Mega form Durandamon have weapon forms they can shift into at will.
    • Similarly, Hackmon and its Digivolutions up to Mega form Jesmon can become weapons.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters:
    • Each of the original Digimon virtual pets had branching Digivolution paths based on how you took care of your Digimon, with 14 unique Digimon each for a total of 70.
    • The 20th Anniversary version adds 2 more to each of the original 5 Digivolution trees, plus a handful of new eggs with a single path each and two that can become the Mega form of the two "anime" versions, which are themselves treated as different from the normal versions and have unique sprites. In total, there are 146 different Digimon to unlock.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Numemon, the poop-throwing slug, has the weakest attack rating of any Champion/Adult stage Digimon in Version 1. It's obtained by making several mistakes, overfeeding, and/or not training your Rookie/Child stage Digimon enough. However, if given the best care possible (no mistakes, no overfeeding, and lots of training), it can then Digivolve into the Ultimate/Perfect stage Monzaemon.
    • Vegimon in Version 2 is just as weak as Numemon, but changes into Vademon, who is just as strong as Monzaemon.
    • Version 3 did this with Scumon. His massive power jump came in the form of Etemon, who was a real threat to the Digi Destined in the anime. And the 20th Anniversary version takes it further, where Etemon can further Digivolve into KingEtemon.
    • Nanimon isn't just the weakest version of Version 4, but an in-joke. He's the Tamagotchi character Oyajichi, except with sunglasses to look cool. But then he can Digivolve into Digitamamon. This form is a Lethal Joke Character, looking like a Digiegg with feet but the same strength as others of its kind. He can then Digivolve into Titamon with perfect care, putting him on the level of known powerhouse like Hi-Andromon and Bancho Mamemon.
    • Version 5 has Raremon, an Captain Ersatz of Hedorah both in terms of being living sludge and a complete joke. He can Digivolve into Ex-Tyrannomon, an Expy of Monzaemon. He can then become Puppetmon, who in the anime was one of the Dark Masters.
  • Mechanical Monster: Several of them including Andromon, Machinedramon, Nanomon, and possibly Aegisdramon.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: Just like Tamagotchi, this is how Digimon grow.
  • Monster Compendium: The 20th Anniversary Edition includes one called the Digi Dex for all of the Digimon you've managed to Digivolve. Unlocking enough entries is needed to get the Slayerdramon and Breakdramon eggs (5 and 25, respecively).
  • Mythology Gag: Nanimon being a copy of Oyajitchi is this.
  • Never Say "Die": The original international manual mentions Digimon coming from a "Megalithic Mainframe", where they would return if they became sick or injured too often (of if you didn't feed them for too long). This was to remove references to death because it was seen as "too harsh" for a kid's toy.
  • '90s Anti-Hero: The main design aesthetic of Digimon at the time was meant to look more like mid-90's western comic books, with huge muscles, scars, cybernetics, and similar. More recent additions, including those added to the 20th Anniversary Edition v-pet, are noticeably less "edgy."
  • Nonindicative Name: Flymon is a wasp rather than a fly. Tuskmon doesn't have tusks, but rather large horns on his shoulders.
  • Non-Player Character: There are 20 Digimon that can only be fought against in Battle Mode. They are unobtainable as pets except through hacking. They include the Seven Great Demon Lords, the Holy Knights, and more.
  • Notzilla: The various Tyrannomon forms. There are even similar cases for other Godzilla monsters - see Captain Ersatz above.
  • Our Angels Are Different:
    • Angemon is uniquely the only angel-themed Digimon in the original v-pet. And unlike the rest of the franchise, he Digivolves from Gabumon rather than Patamon. In the v-pet, he has a mask with a cross covering his face and two pairs of wings.
    • 20th Anniversary Edition adds Rasielmon, the final form of Meicoomon. She has cat-like features, metallic golden wings, a fur-trimmed Badass Longcoat, and is named for an obscure angel from Jewish tradition said to be the keeper of secrets with its form varying from a cherub, Ophan, or chief of the Erelim. She seems to incorporate elements of all of these, being feline, having round wheel-like extentions on the joints of her wings, and was once a savior of the Digital World. Like her namesake, she's said to be able to see just about everywhere and knows many secrets.
  • Power-Up Letdown: In the Digivice series virtual pets, MetalGreymon Digivolving to WarGreymon actually caused him to become slightly weaker and have a shorter lifespan compared to other Mega stage Digimon available in the Digivices. It became known as the MetalGreymon Meltdown as a result. Fortunately, this wasn't repeated when he was added to the 20th Anniversary Edition, where WarGreymon instead has the shared highest attack of any Mega Digimon (with MetalGarurumon being tied).
  • Pretty in Mink: Rasielmon's Badass Long Coat is trimmed with fur.
  • Reincarnation: The main franchise treats Digimon being defeated as this, with their data being used to recreate their original egg so that when they hatch again, they'll retain their memories. The instructions for the original toys, at least outside of Japan, said that they would return to the Megalithic Mainframe but then could be brought back as eggs to be raised again. 20th Anniversary Edition just has them die like in the Japanese version, but seems to imply that they will be reborn when their egg is chosen again.
  • Resurrective Immortality: When a Digimon dies, it returns to the Megalithic Mainframe where its data can become a new egg - at least according to the version of the American and European instructions. This is more in line with the anime, compared to the original Japanese version simply stating that the Digimon just dies with no implication of reincarnating.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Most Fresh and In-Training stage Digimon.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Whamon. It's a whale with a Giger-esque armor plate on its head.
  • Spear Counterpart: To Tamagotchi, which had an Audience Shift from general audiences to primarily girls.
  • Spin-Off: Of Tamagotchi.
  • Tag Team: The 20th Anniversary Edition adds the ability to raise two Digimon at once. Plus, two Digimon can battle in the built-in Battle Mode. The player can choose between their own two Digimon or two copied from other v-pets using the Copy Link function.
  • Transformation Sequence: Digivolution is shown as the Digimon flashing and changing into a new form. Jogress is shown with the two moving together and overlapping before becoming their fused form.
  • Updated Re-release: The 20th Anniversary Edition includes all five of the original toy's starting Digieggs and the Digimon that can hatch and evolve from them, as well as several new ones including one designed just for the new toy. 5 versions were released, each having one exclusive egg each. The Japanese version simply released 5 different color toys while the international version had three colors for each with only the Japanese Taichi and Yamato versions being included unchanged.
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