Posted by Allison Boyer

Back in 1997, just about every pre-teen girl (and lots of guys too) had a Tamagotchi or at least one of the knock-off brands of electronic pets. I was obsessed with mine until my parents made me get rid of it. Apparently, it’s really annoying to light sleepers when your pixelated cat is beep-meowing for food at three in the morning!

Now, you can relive the glory days of the mid-90s as the proud owner of a Tamagotchi once again. Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. is a new app available on iOS and Android that allows you to take care of a virtual pet just like you did in the good old days. The app is free, though there is an ad-free paid version available as well.

Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. has two modes. First, you can play the more modern, sleek looking version which has full color and a high resolution. If you’re really feeling nostalgic, though, you can instead play in the old-school black-and-white mode, where you’ll care for an 8-bit pet that looks exactly like the pet you had 15 years ago. The game allows you to collect pets and earn stars, and, like the original, you can play with your pets to increase happiness (and pass the time when you’re bored).

As you raise your pets, you can also share them on Facebook via the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. app. I would expect to see even more social integration in future updates to the app.

L.i.f.e. stands for Love Is Fun Everywhere, which is part of a bigger campaign for Tamagotchi. The company has a “hometown heroes” program, which allows you to nominate people in your community who are making a difference in the world. This program launched in November 2012, and the first winner was Carole Pearson of The Dawg Squad. She received $5,000 for The Dawg Squad, an all-volunteer organization in Los Angeles that rescues sick and at-risk pooches and places them in foster homes until they can be adopted.

Every two months, a new Hometown Hero is chosen by Tamagotchi, and you can nominate someone from your own community here. So if you feel guilty about wasting time playing with your digital dog, you can at least know that proceeds are going toward a good cause!

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Allison Boyer is the Online Education Coordinator for NMX University, where you can learn more about blogging, podcasting, web TV, and social business. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister.