A successor to the original digital pocket pets of the ‘90s. It’s good, but is it purrfect?
hose digital pets (Tamagotchis, I believe they were called) were heckin’ nice, though I didn’t have money during those days to buy one. It was a very novel device, and probably the only electronic toy of that era that could fit into an actual pocket (Game Boys were ‘uge!).
Fast-forward to 2013, and a Slovenian studio called Outfit7 would design yet another digital pet game on mobile. Mind you, it was not the first virtual pet game on these platforms (and certainly wouldn’t be the last), but it definitely got some heavy attention from “Pou” fans and fans of the genre in general.
For those who may not remember, Pou was a critically-acclaimed digital pet game released just a year before on BlackBerry, iOS, and Android, and it was so successful that several Pou clones spawned in its wake (such as “Mou” for Windows). My Talking Pet, however, was kind of its own thing, and while it might’ve undoubtedly borrowed some elements from previous pet games, it did set out its own franchise, with multiple sequels, spin-offs (such as My Talking Angela), and an animated series to boot.
My Talking Tom lets you manage an anthropomorphic furry called Tom (who would’ve guessed?) through a menu with various options to choose from, such as eat, sleep, or go “potty”.
Yeah, it’s a cat, and you know what that means! Better get that virtual litterbox ready! Luckily, Tom’s “litterbox” (an actual toilet) doesn’t smell, and you won’t even need to cook anything.
When the Cat’s Away… Oops, Wrong Proverb!
Tom, just like any other feline (at least in theory), catches mice. However, in order to catch it, he has to work for it or, more specifically, you have to work for it via a minigame similar to Whack-a-Mole called “Whack-a-Mouse”. Tom will use a mallet because that’s how cats roll! Yay for realism!
Unfortunately, this minigame got boring after the tenth mouse, but our Slovenian friends managed to add other interesting minigames with time, with Tom Run and Flappy Tom (yeah, they actually made a Flappy Birds reference!) being two of my favorites!
Also, to Tom’s credit, Tamagotchis had more repetitive features, but I guess people had no other hill to die on back then. The minigames have a very remarkable personality even when they were more on the derivative side of things.
Play with Other Toms… And Your Own!
Another cool feature is the ability to make online friends and visit their Toms via Facebook or in-app purchases. It’s a really nice perk that adds a social facet to gameplay. You can also use the in-game currency to buy outfits for your own Tom so that it stands out from the rest.
With such an encumbered digital pet market nowadays, you may think that caring about Tom is harder. But Tom is really cute and, in my view, has a slight edge over Pou, though, admittedly, this is a subjective observation. The different Toms have different personalities and traits, so you will not want your own Tom to die so soon.
There’s also this gimmicky thing he does where he repeats whatever you said using a synthesized voice. This would have probably suited a parrot better, but I might be nitpicking too much.
And Then There Were the Ads!
I really can’t understand, for the life of me, how these devs keep missing the mark on this! I’m probably too old-fashioned to adapt to these new monetization approaches, yet I can’t help but feel that the ads were one too many!
My guess is that Outfit7 fear that, by charging upfront, people would end up not purchasing the app. I can totally sympathize with that, especially considering that this was never meant to be a AAA game in the first place. Still, it can’t hurt to offer extra premium features as in-app purchases - such as special costumes or accessories for Tom - instead of having to introduce an annoying ad after every darn tap!
My Talking Tom has a lot going for it. It’s a very nice game with a curious (albeit not very original) concept and a highly endearing presentation. Tom grows on you and, even in the face of immersion-breaking ads, you’d still feel like going back to check on your hairy friend. I would have wished to have a paid ads-free version, but I guess that won’t be coming anytime soon, as sad as that sounds.
Have you petted your Tom yet? Leave your meows in the commentary box below!
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