Pokemon Sleep is the Tamagotchi I never had

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Sitting beside me one recent afternoon, my partner glanced down at my phone; "Why are you playing Pokemon Sleep?" Her question was a fair one - it was the middle of the day, and we were in public. It was hardly time to settle down for a nap. 

Her perfectly reasonable confusion didn't even cross my mind, however. "It's lunchtime," I replied. "Snorlax needs his lunch." She looked at me, incredulous.

"His lunch?"

"Yeah, it tracks your sleep, but you need to feed it Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner too. To help him grow. And that's why you give him these berries." I gathered up a collection of fruit from my party, and Snorlax began chowing down.

"That's not a sleep tracker. That's a Tamagotchi. You've got a Tamagotchi."

Snorlax's sleepiness is as inherent to its character as Pikachu's Thunderbolt, but I'm prepared to believe that unless you've watched the anime, the creature's voracious appetite is a little less well-known. Despite that, I had no real defence - the second I gave it any thought, the comparisons between Pokemon's latest, weirdest spin-off and the iconic Egg Watch were immediately clear.

Pocket Monster, or Pocket Friend?

Pokemon Sleep

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

I never had a Tamagotchi of my own. I'm too young to remember the toy's first wave, and while they reared their heads again a few years later, I don't think my parents would have been prepared to allow another Japanese fad into their lives after Pokemon got its hooks into me. 

Still, I'm familiar with the concept. A little creature that lives in a small electronic device that you keep on your person, that you're tasked with looking after by feeding and playing with it. Pokemon Sleep's Snorlax doesn't entirely fit the bill - he probably won't die from neglect, for one thing - but he does require pretty regular attention. As well as three square meals a day and plenty of sleep, I'm checking in multiple times a day to provide as many berries as my pocket pal can eat and to gather ingredients for his next feast.

The comparisons between Pokemon's latest, weirdest spin-off and the iconic Egg Watch were immediately clear

And while Snorlax might be the star of the show, I've got a handful of other, smaller Pokemon to keep an eye on as well. Right now a Pikachu and Pichu are helping fatten up Snorlax alongside a Sudowoodo, Growlithe, and Bulbasaur, but as the day draws on and those Pokemon start to get tired, I'll need to swap them out for some more energetic friends, adding what feels like half a dozen more low-tech tamagotchi to my big, sleepy one.

As much as Pokemon Sleep isn't a perfect, like-for-like match for a Tamagotchi - thankfully I am neither having to play with Snorlax nor clean up its leavings after the many curries I've been cooking for him - it's a surprisingly close fit. Pokemon Sleep is more traditionally gamified than those original toys, its main aim being to increase Snorlax's size as efficiently as possible. The bigger the number by the end of the week, the better you've done. But even as Pokemon Sleep sacrifices some of Tamagotchi's more deliberately endearing features, it's still succeeded in getting me coming back every day for a week to make sure Snorlax gets every meal and then gets a full night's sleep. The novelty might wear off eventually, but I feel like I'm finally starting to appreciate the Tamagotchi craze - even if I'm 25 years too late.

I don't think the original Tamagotchi recorded your farts as you slept, so that's 1-0 to Pokemon Sleep.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.