Bandai America has hooked up with San Jose, California-based PlayPhone to turn its virtual pet brand into a pay-as-you-go phone service for tween fans.
Due out before the summer, the line of brightly colored Tamagotchi handsets are programmed with a digital pet that users hatch, feed, clean and play with in a mobile game environment. Wallpaper, custom ring tones and a bevy of related casual games are also part of the package, and kids can customize their phones even more with content credits and downloadable features available on www.TamaPhone.com.
For their part, parents will be able to limit access to web functionality and incoming/outgoing calls.
Tamagotchi was introduced as a pocket-sized toy in 1996, and the original product has sold more than 40 million units worldwide.