The Virtual Pikachu That Didn't Need Food

Back in 1998, Pokémon was the shiz-nittle-bam-snip-snap-sack. Much like Ninja Turtles the decade before, Pokémon was the children's franchise. Even people who didn't watch the show could instantly recognise its mascot, Pikachu. It was during this time that Nintendo and Game Freak decided to release a giga-pet based on owning an actual Pokémon. And thus the Pokémon Pocket Pikachu was born.

Now I know there are two version of this giga-pet, the original LCD one and the later GS colour one, but unfortunately I only have the black-and-white one. There are a few differences between each Pikapal, but overall it's the same experience. Only a few animations, mini-game changes and the additional colour make the difference.

Pokémon Pikachu is slightly different from more traditional portable virtual pets in that Pikachu does not need to be fed, watered or cleaned up after. Pikachu only requires interaction and exercise to keep him happy. The unit is a virtual pet, but it also has a pedometer function built in. With every step the user takes, the Pokémon Pikachu will provide credits ("watts") which can be used as presents for Pikachu. It's not an exact science, but around 18 steps on the pedometer will earn one watt.

Overall, your relationship status with Pikachu will be gauged on a score. When you play with him, you'll gain points and the more you have, the more he'll like you. You can gain more points by walking, shaking him and giving him watts. You must be careful though because shaking him at the wrong time will cause him to become upset with you. Some examples are when he's stacking building blocks or sleeping. I haven't tried it while he is in the shower, but I know that in the GS version he gets frightened and runs away. Here is a list of activities I've seen Pikachu do.

Brushing His Teeth — (Shaking it: He brushes faster.)

Playing At The Beach — (Shaking it: He shovels faster.)

Weight Lifting — (Shaking it: He drops the weight.)

Building With Blocks — (Shaking it: A block drops off his small building.)

Sleeping — (Shaking it: He wakes up.)

Spinning Around — (Shaking it: His ears "perk" up, and he'll start looking at you.)

Adding 9+2 — (Shaking it: Has a question mark over his head.)

Licking An Ice Cream/Lollipop — (Shaking it: He drops the cone on the floor.)

Watching TV — (Shaking it: He jumps up and down.)

Taking A Bath — (Shaking it: He bobs his head back and forth.)

Standing Around — (Shaking it: He will wave his arms and his tail around.)

When you first get Pikachu he will be a little grouchy and just be "OK" with you. He won't look at you and he will spend most of his time doing activities on his own. As you spend more time with Pikachu, your friendship score will grow and you'll start seeing him engage in more activities. Giving him watt presents is also a great way to quickly boost the friendship. Different denominations of watts will prompt different reactions from Pikachu.

000: Pikachu will make an angry face and your friendship score will go down.

010+: Pikachu will yawn.

100+: Pikachu will cheer and do a small march.

400+: Pikachu will write you a letter.

500+: Pikachu will do a backflip.

600+: Pikachu will stare at you with cute eyes and little hearts will appear around him.

999+: Pikachu will perform a little show where he will either swim, hang-glide, play the trumpet/piano or balance on a ball.

If you're really gutsy, or lucky, you can bet your watts in a slot machine game. A five-watt bet can net you 500 if you manage to hit all sevens. It is a little hard to do, but I have managed it several times. You can also get different combinations with fish, cats and flowers. Triple cats are pretty good because they net you a solid 50 watts.

It's pretty easy to take care of Pikachu as he doesn't require 24-hour attention. But if you do neglect him, his mood can quickly change. I forgot to put him in my pocket yesterday and he dropped from "loves you" to "likes you". Man, what a moody guy! A quick 500-watt dosage quickly bought him over though. I don't think Pikachu can die, but if you're really negligent I've heard Pikachu can become angry and eventually refuse to recognise the player. He will actually leave the giga-pet! You'd have to neglect him for several weeks though.

Out of all my childhood toys, I have the fondest memories with the Pocket Pikachu. He has a variety of expressions and he is always busy doing something throughout the day. This is the closest you can get to actually owning a real Pokémon. (Lord knows we all had that dream when we were young.) The Pikapal originally sold for about $US15-$20 in the US but the price has gone up; now you have to eBay one for around $US50. I'd like to try out the colour GS model, but the prices seem too high. For now I'm fine with my original Pikachu at my side.

John Kazemaini is the creator and managing editor for A video game blog specialising in off-beat and retro gaming news. Republished with permission.


    I still have mine!!! :)

    My little brother had one, I heard the new ones from gold + silver are better anyway?

      The new ones (called Pokewalker) are far more interesting than the original Pikachu variants. The Pokewalker works alongside the Gold/Silver remakes via infrared and allows you to take any Pokemon from your DS game and have him gain XP while walking (limit 1 level per transfer).

      Best part is while you have your own Pokemon on the device you can play minigames that allow you to catch new critters and find items which can be transfered back to your DS. Thanks to the Pokewalker I had a far more varied and interesting team including Pokemon I wouldn't have otherwise been able to acquire early on

    I used to love this thing. I wish I still knew where it was... Though it didn't really encourage me to exercise, most of the time I just shook it. :P

    They were tough as well. Mine survived a 2 story fall and a ride through the washing machine xD

    I used to have one.
    i took it on my christmas family holiday to Bali, and jumped into the pool with it.
    it was never quite the same.

      Holy crap thats almost my story .

      expect it was a beach.

    Awww man, I had one of the original bad boys, I always remember, if you built up enough points, you could make pikachu play the piano :D

    I have a Pocket Pikachu Colour (GS), still alive and in use after years and years (and a few button cells). The GS model has a high/low card guessing game.

    Made me think of this;

    Old school yo!

    My brother had an Tomadotchi (Tama, Toma, Dotchi, Gotchi cant remember?) I remember me little bro having the original Pocket Monster branded cards that first came with bubble gum over here too! We (he) also had an Tiger Electronics Street Fighter 2 that we used to fight over - so I could play Wonderboy 3: Dragons' Trap all to myself, hahaha

    I had one until my ex took it to tafe to walk Pikachu and lost it. I recently got another one, the battery is flat but I keep it for collection sake.

    Wow i loved this! i used to play a little card minigame all the time.

    I had a cousin with one of these, though it seemed to be closer to the Playstation Pocket Digimon (PSX) minigame than Tamagotchis, despite the physical similarity.

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