Raising Big Poppa Pump hasn't been easy. He gets hungry at weird times and doesn't sleep through the night. He also isn't the cleanest pocket monster I've ever owned. But I have a feeling that all this time spent grooming, teaching, and playing with him will lead to something truly rewarding. I'm talking about evolution, man -- an incredible change that takes place because I've proved that I'm an awesome owner.

Big Poppa Pump is my little monster dude in Hatchi, Portable Pixel's game for those of us who remember the Tamagotchi so fondly. The two games -- and I use that loosely -- are pretty similar. You hatch an egg that contains a monster, and then that monster becomes your digital pet. As an owner, you'll be responsible for feeding, cleaning, entertaining and even applying first-aid to the little one.

Functionally, this is all really simple to do. If your monster's "smarts" bar is low, and his energy is high enough for an activity, you click the book button to raise it. If his "hygiene" is low, you hit the baby button to give it a bath. If his energy is low, or if you just want a break, you can hit the lights and that puts him to sleep.

The sleep mechanic rolls in a little save state trickery, by the way. When you put a Hatchi down and exit out of the app, upon returning you'll notice a slight visual hitch and then magically see the energy bar fill according to the amount of time he's been doing the bed thing. My experience with this varies; sometimes Big Poppa Pump needs hours of rest, sometimes just dozens of minutes.

Most of my day with Big Poppa Pump isn't spent doing anything thrilling, complex or even all that fun, which is why I hesitate to call this a game-game. In the mornings, I wake him up and grind until his needs are all completely met. I continue to do this through the afternoon until he gets too tired and needs that big nap. At night, I try to tire him out so he doesn't wake up angry, unclean, and unsatisfied at 2AM.

My greatest fear as an owner is that he'll die in the night, which is something that can happen. "Yes, it can die if you don't look after it," Portable Pixels tells us. "It will get sick first and you can use the first aid to cure Hatchi."

It's hilarious, but I really, really, really don't want Big Poppa Pump to bite the dust. I've somehow bonded with the thing, as silly as that sounds, and the competitive part of my brain wants to see an evolution based on my meticulous play.

Big Poppa Pump isn't evolving as fast as I'd want it to for our preview coverage, so I asked Playable Pixels how it works. "You'll need to feed, clean, play with and generally look after your pet to ensure it grows up," it tells us. "[Pets have] several different forms they can evolve into depending on how you look after them."

That's as much detail as we're getting at the moment, but as you'll see in the article, there are some pretty hip forms. Big Poppa Pump is getting a lot more exercise than he needs, so here's to hoping that he evolves into a gigantic muscle monster.

That's the experience as it stands now -- train, wait, train, wait some more, and then receive some sort of evolution. In the future, though, Playable Pixels hopes to add a lot more content, including a social component, if sales are good.

"Initially its a retro theme, but we've had lots of ideas about bringing it into the mobile era. Taking him on day trips for example, or socializing with your friends Hatchis," it tells us.

"One of our beta testers said she would give her left arm for a graveyard for all her past Hatchi's, and one of our developers wants a defibrillator. Its really a side project inspired by a reddit post back in September."

Portable Pixels says its been "fairly overwhelmed by the response" so far. In an effort to keep up with it, its set up an e-mail address for people to be notified when the game is hitting and for feedback purposes. That address, if you'd like to get in on this, is: hatchi@portablepixels.com.

Currently, the game is on track for a January 15th release at $.99 for iPhone and iPod Touch. A Universal version isn't slated to happen yet, but it could if "the need is great enough."

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    Every person who spends every other moment of their life checking their Facebook would probably pick this up in a heartbeat. I'm not huge into appointment gaming, but for those that are, Tamagotchi pioneered the concept.

  • http://twitter.com/elmarto755 Martin O'Hagan

    cannot wait to have this on my device!

  • http://twitter.com/anon_a_miss any-mouse

    I'd much rather a tamagotchi that has many different animals..the fun part is mystery..and there really isnt any mystery at all here, we already know exactly what were getting, a monster. And now we nave also seen the monsters evolutuions, which has taken away my desire to buy this app.

    If there were several different animals with several different outcomes, I'd have bought this in an instant.

    I'm also a bit turned off by the monotoned..I know their trying to do the retro tamagotchi but id much rather gameboy color style colorful..just a little bit of feint color. I hate that old skool green background egh

    Also adding new things would be good, it's a fun idea but we all know how boring tamagotchis get after a while... Mystery would definitely motivate alot of people, but it'd also be good to be able to battle other players through blue tooth, like digimons (god they were awesome!) and do other cool stuff..maybe customising your pet with bows and stuff and winning money to buy the items by mini games like slot machines, and what about some sort of reward for how many steps you've taken using the iPhone accelometre? Maybe you can find special items after walking so far..
    The opportunitys are endless since iPhone has so many things like cameras, barcode readers, accelormetre, etc, you could take a photo with your pet and upload it to facebook, or scan barcodes and unlock special gifts, and play mini games with the accelmetre as well.

    Breeding would also be cool..like if you have a dinosaur and you know someome else who has a Dino, you could breed over blue tooth or wifi, then have a baby egg and baby momma to look after. That'd be sick!

    It's only a small project at the moment, but I hope in the future the devs might expand this to be a really awesome modern day tammagotchi

    • http://twitter.com/portablepixels Portable Pixels

      It can evolve in different ways

      • http://twitter.com/anon_a_miss any-mouse

        More then the two shown? How
        Many different outcomes? I might buy if there's a variety..

        Don't get me wrong, the game looks great, I've been hoping someone would do a proper tammagotchi app for a while, this one will definitely be the best in the AppStore at the time, it's just be cooler of there were more different animals..
        I want-
        Dog with 2 heads Etc

        Maybe you could expand it in a mythological creature kind of way.

        And in that case, why dont you add the female G spot, that is the biggest myth of all

        Ps I don't mean to add all
        These things at once, I mean like of your game goes mainstream and makes heaps of money then maybe you could get the means to expand the app with other cool features.. Your probably a small indie Dev team, I don't expect you to be able to whip that up out of your bungholes.. I just mean maybe one update you could add a new animal. Etc etc and over time
        Have it build up so it's more desirable for the
        Consumer to want to purchase. Seems like a few people have agreed with the guy who said "I wouldn't pay for it, but I'd download it for free" I'm
        Sure that'll be alot of peoples mentality as it seems like a quick novelty rather then a game filled with hours of fun content, which there are plenty of in the AppStore for 99c.

        Alot of teens and kids will probably buy this or beg their parents for it, and people who want to bring back a memory of their childhood may too, it'll probably go reasonably well
        It'd have the means to go mainstream with a few updates, especially if you do the battle thing like on digimon.. Alot of iOS users were pokemon/digimon fans waiting to jump like a grasshopper at a game with similarities.

  • http://twitter.com/oooooomonkey Oooooomonkey

    A grave yard with all your dead pets in, that's a fantastic idea and NEEDS to happen

  • Jacob Gehman

    Ah man, I've never really liked this style of "game"--but the kid in me who remembers owning a couple of Tamagachis still got excited looking at those screen captures.

    Not excited enough, though, for me to be willing to plop $.99 on it. Just enough so that I'd give 'er the ole download if it goes on sale for free.(Hate to be that guy...but gotta be that guy.)

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewGeczy Andrew Geczy

    I'm with Jacob

  • TeddyNYC

    I think a good tamagotchi sim that can be easily expanded with new features is worth 99 cents, at least for me it is.

    Actually, since I read about this I've been looking for the two tamagotchi units I have somewhere in my home. One is a transparent yellow and the other is a camouflage-like color, both are original (not knockoffs) and both still have the plastic tab to prevent the battery from making contact, which turns it on. I'm not sure if the batteries still work, but I think I can replace them. I just hope I can find them.

  • Jun Liu

    Ah, I'm looking forward to this. Makes me miss my Digimon tamagotchi.

  • http://twitter.com/portablepixels Portable Pixels

    Just a quick note to say Apple have approved the app. I dont think I can post links here so search the app store for 'hatchi'

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MSH56N633ACUVD46DAZSBQ3LJU DwayneW

    See. This is why other handhelds cannot compete, something magical and wonderful, drops almost everyday on this platform. iPad 2 (wifi-16gig). Worth. Every. Penny.