Giga Pets was a line of electronic virtual pets released by Tiger Electronics starting in 1997. Following on the fad of Bandai's Tamagotchi pets, it initially addressed the demand for virtual pets based on actual animals like cats and dogs. While the Tamagotchi fad died out fairly quickly, Giga Pets kept itself relevant a little longer by having licensed tie-ins with other brands that Tiger was licensing. In particular, three Star Wars pets were released to promote the Special Edition trilogy that was running in theaters at the time.
Unlike Tamagotchi, which had two different versions that mainly looked the same and were differentiated by the available colors, Giga Pets offered several options including dogs, cats, frogs, koalas, and dinosaurs. Each had a unique mold to help it stand out. It was the continued expansion and attempts at innovation for the toys that eventually led to the first animatronic digital pet, the Furby.
The series continued on somewhat longer than other contenders in the digital pet fad, but still was more or less done by 2000. A brief revival in 2006 called Giga Pets Explorer reimagined the series as a plug-and-play device that could connect to your TV, allowing your digital pet to interact in new ways similar to many "edutainment" games on the market like Leap Frog. The line ended relatively quickly.
The series was eventually relaunched in 2018 by Top Secret toys, now rendered as GigaPets, with many of the same offerings as before but in a more standardized design. They have also shifted their focus to customer engagement, holding contests for new designs to be manufactured. Much of the same team that worked on the original version also worked on the relaunch, and it is has been noted that it was released made about a year after Bandai re-released the original Tamagotchi.
Tropes relating to Giga Pets include:
- CamelCase: The name of the toy series became GigaPets, with no space in-between the words, when it got rebooted in 2018.
- Crossover: A somewhat successful attempt at keeping relevance. Mainly Merchandise-Driven properties.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Why, among dogs, cats, and frogs, a baby T. rex was one of the options.
- History Repeats: Saw a relaunch probably because of the success of the relaunch of Tamagotchi, with a similar gap between the two both times.
- Idle Animation: Wouldn't be much fun to look at otherwise. R2-D2 was unique in that you could create one if you wanted, though it would start out with fewer types of movements than the standard one, with more unlocking over time.
- Licensed Game: A few entries into the line were based on licenses Tiger held at the time, including Star Wars, Small Soldiers, Rugrats, and more.
- Off-Model: On the Rugrats Giga Pet, the sprite of Chuckie looks a bit off, with him not having a visible nose or buck teeth and wearing a shirt with a minimalistic-looking symbol on it compared into the original cartoon. The other characters' sprites are more in line with their original appearances.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You could discipline your pets even if they weren't doing anything wrong, which would lead them to becoming sad and acting strangely. Cheering them back up wasn't particularly hard, either.
- Virtual Pet: More literally than most, the pets started out as actual animals, even if some were a bit unusual or impossible.
- Weird Crossover: The R2-D2 version. While the concurrent Yoda and Rancor pets were, more or less, normal pets, R2 being a droid meant he didn't need to be fed, trained, or cleaned up after. Instead, you would have him recharge when his battery got low and... that's mostly it. As he got older, he'd open more remote control options which just made him move around the screen. This could be individual movements or a sequence of up to 8 repeated movements.