I was kinda surprised to see news on Siliconera of this game being released in Europe (no release date yet for America). It had arrived so quietly, which is probably my own fault. After all, the title has been available in Japan for some time now under the title Kuma Tomo. It’s published by Bandai Namco, and for those of you who, like me, are a bit hesitant, there’s a demo in the eShop. Quite an extensive demo I might add, only a few things are restricted to the full version. I guess I can say I was able to get to know my Teddy pretty well.
Opening the game, your teddy bear arrives by mail: your new best friend unceremoniously tumbles from the box. At first sight my Teddy seemed as fuzzy as they come, but I must admit I was taken aback by his voice when he enthusiastically introduced himself. He speaks in a very British accent, but what annoys me a bit is that he talks so breathlessly and soft. I can’t describe it very well, but the voice really works on my nerves. Now I saw that in the full version you can change the volume of the Bears voice, so maybe that would work in bettering it.
He is one inquisitive little bear, I can tell you. From the start he has been peppering me with questions. I can only refer to him as he, though the game clearly leaves it up to imagination: he even asked me what I thought he was, boy or girl. But with that voice, I can only see him as a boy, even though I tried dressing him up in a girls flowery poncho and pink hat, but it just didn’t work.
But let me back up a bit. What’s the game like? Think Nintendogs and then add real interaction to the mix, along with some mini games á la cooking mama plus a feeling of Tomodachi Life. Let me explain. You have to feed and bath Teddy and you can stroke him, he loves that. Stroking and bathing him feels about the same as in Nintendogs, but feeding him is different: his food is made up from recipes you prepare yourself. The games activity screen lets you choose from Bathroom, Kitchen and Wardrobe, allowing you to change his clothing.
But, there’s more. The menu features Notebooks and Outside too. Let’s focus for a moment on Notebooks. You can find memories there ( though not in the demo) and notes. They include Teddy’s status and everything Teddy has learned about you. You can even edit the answers you’ve given and add to it. Because that’s the main attraction in this game: Teddy asks a lot and he even listens and remembers. (wait, is he a girl after all then? 🙂 ) His enthusiasm is contagious, and the more you both interact, the more he wants to know. Where I live, if it’s a nice town. What my favorite food is and my favorite celebrity. And then, a couple of days later, he flawlessly strings the answers together in a way that feels as if he’s not just a bunch of pixels: “Yvonne, do you think there’s a shop in your hometown where we can go to get some French fries and drink som black coffee together?” Now who can say no to such en enthusiastic bear?
Going outside is nice. There are shops to buy sweets, fashion and seeds for the garden. In the garden, you can plant seeds and take care of them, growing into flowers and trees. All of that is based on completing your collections of plants. Combining seeds gives rare flowers, as does using various fertilizers.
There’s a station too, which is unlocked in the full version. I’ve read that you can go on trips to places around the world from there. But it can’t be through wifi or such: the game specifies that everything you tell the bear stays on your own 3DS, there’s no connectivity so your answers are safe. The game has amiibo functionality: reading an amiibo into it will give you in-game coins. Every day there’s a featured amiibo too, that will net more coins.
A good thing too as I imagine this game will be particularly popular with kids. A feature that will really appeal to players requires confidentiality too, is the way you can introduce Teddy to a friend. Just hand your 3DS over to a friend, and Teddy will have a conversation with her or him too. You can do this once a day, so I can only imagine the Bear building some kind of relationship with them too. All with the goal to deepen his friendship with you. I handed the 3DS to my daughter, and I heard Teddy ask her if I was away, so that he could have a confidential talk with her.
My thoughts on this game? The voice acting is a flaw in my opinion, but other then that, this is exactly what I had in mind when I had my first virtual pet, the Tamagotchi. Teddy is a happy bear and totally interested in a loving friendship with you. It’s a good game for young children too, as it helps them to read and develop their social skills. For parents it will be important that the game is safe: no outside influences can creep in, and you can monitor the things your child share with Teddy. There’s even an option to modify the input. There are all kind of mini challenges like collecting stuff, and you can involve friends and family in shaping the game. He is responsive, a master in combining the things you told him and entertaining, who can ask for a better virtual friend?
This looks so adorable! I didn’t realize the teddy bear would actually interact with you. That’s pretty neat actually. It definitely sounds like an extensive demo. Are you getting the full version? Thanks for covering this!
Actually, I was tempted to get the game, my demo has ended and I find I miss the little guy. But to be honest, I don’t think I want to spend full price on it at the moment: it’s €40 in the eShop!
Yay I hope it comes to USA and hopefully the voice will be different lol The Japanese voice is way better!
I bet it is, but soooo difficult to understand, haha
Finally, an evolution to the virtual pet genre. I think what most games in the genre did wrong is that they focused on realism a little too much. Yes, it was still easy compared to a real pet, but other than some mini-games here and there, most of the gameplay was taking care of your pet. Which gets boring really fast. I think what kids really wanted was something more akin between a friend and a pet, maybe with a little adventure thrown in. This one at least takes care of the friend part.
I will definitely get this one when it’s on sale. I’m okay with giving like, 15 euros or so for this game, but 40? Ehhh, sorry Namco.
Since the demo seems nice, I’ll try it after next week when I finally get some free time. I’ve heard teddy bears with more surprising voices so the voice probably won’t bother me too much even if it is a little breathy. Besides, I was one of those weird girls who always thought her plushies were male, except for a digimon one that was female in the cartoon (and I still am that girl. Never gonna give up those plushies no matter how old I am!).
Haha Elisa, right you are. Never give up on what’s important to you, no matter what other people think. It’ll keep you young!
Yes, €20 is my goal for the game, I do like it enough to want to have it. Actually, my demo has ended and I find I miss the little guy. Which means they really managed to make a good virtual pet. I think though that for me, I would have love to have Streetpassing and communications with other bears over wifi, but I understand why they didn’t include that. Keeping the children safe and creating a confidential environment should take first priority after all.