Ever since the first season of Digimon aired on television, I’ve been a fan. My interest in the franchise would only grow when Digimon World was released on Playstation. Over the years, many products would be released tied to the series, including Digivice toys, that I would regrettably lose growing up. The series has seen a bit of resurgence in the west with games like Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and Digimon World Next Order, which has led me to reconnect to the digital world and see what I’ve been missing.
The virtual pet Digimon Pendulum Z was released in November 2020. So last year, I figured it’s time to bite the bullet and import the device. Sadly, the price of a Pendulum Z is high, so owners are generally hardcore fans. Raising Digimon on the device is fun and taps into the nostalgia of feeding and training my virtual pet. While these Digivices have typically been exclusive to Premium Bandai, the Vital Bracelet Digital Monster from Bandai was revealed late last year, and I knew I had to have one.
This initial trailer had me hyped for this new V-Pet with a smartwatch presentation that allows you to raise a Digimon while you wear it. It is also the first time a Digimon V-Pet (the second time if we count the Japanese release of the Xros Loader) has a color screen with colorful sprites for the various Digimon.
Best of all, the Vital Bracelet is a retail release for the White and Black color variant. There is also this Neon-Yellow/Neon-Green color Special version exclusive to Premium Bandai. That version had the Ancient Warriors DiM Card(DiM=Digimon identified Memory) with the Veemon Evolution line, which was exclusive to that particular version. Further, it included the Impulse City DiM Card that comes with the regular versions. So being the Digimon Taimer that I am, I pre-ordered the Special version.
After a good few months of waiting and wondering, I was looking forward to the pre-order bonus that included the Black Roar Trial DiM card offering a straight evolution line for BlackAgumon to BlackWargreymon, the Start Guide, and Pulsemon promo card for the Digimon Card Game. A few weeks after launch, thanks to international shipping speeds, I would be the owner of this unique device.
The Vital Bracelet has a great design combining a Digivice toy and V-Pet with a pedometer that tracks your steps and responds when you are doing certain exercises. There’s a heart rate sensor too, but it may not quite be as accurate. I’ve worn it almost every single day since I got it, which is the best way to raise the various Digimon as it raises their Vital values. The device is a bit of a tight fit on my wrist, but it doesn’t bother me. There are extender straps if you have a bigger wrist.
The device is powered by a Lithium battery that you can charge through a USB cable that comes with the Vital Bracelet. The battery life lasts up to 18 hours before you need to charge it.
An NFC feature allows you to get into random battles by touching NFC reading devices like smartphones, the Nintendo Switch Joy-cons and Pro-controller, and many other things like the Japanese vending machines shown in the reveal trailer being a few examples. I will also note that the device isn’t waterproof, but it can handle sweat from exercising just fine from my experience.
When you first boot up the Vital Bracelet, you need to input the date and time and then slot in one of the DiM Cards you got with your device. This will present you with your first Digimon to raise. After that, you can slot in another one to get a second one. However, you can only have up to two Digimon in the Vital Bracelet at the same time.
I will also note that once you use a DiM Card on a Vital Bracelet, that particular DiM card is locked to that device, so you cannot use it on another device or hand one of those for your friends to use aside from the VS Memory DiM. This lets you take your Digimon’s data from your Vital Bracelet and insert it into another Vital Bracelet to fight. Battles are reliant on RNG, and each Digimon gets about 5 shots to knock the other one out.
When your Digimon reaches the Rookie stage, you can access the mission mode divided into Normal Missions, Hard Missions, Special Missions, and Adventure Missions. Normal Missions often give you one mission per day that can vary from battling a few times to getting your Digimon’s vital values to a certain point.
Hard Missions require you to exercise with various exercises such as squats/crunches, sit-ups, punches, and dashing/running in place for about 20 to 30 seconds, depending on the exercise. Clearing these can give you up to 2 trophies depending on how well you do, but the pedometer in the device can be rather sensitive, and as a result, you can cheese these missions.
Special Missions are missions that you can get through the Vital Bracelet Lab app. These have varying clear conditions that can net you 3 trophies and experience points that increase your Tamer level and rank. Finally, we have Adventure Missions, which works as the quest mode for the DiM Card that you use with the device that has stages that require you to walk a certain distance before a battle starts.
While the device takes more after the Digivice toys, it is still a V-Pet, which means that the Digimon can still die if you don’t take good care of them or allow them to get injured too much. Digivolution may also take a good while as it took a Baby Digimon one hour to evolve to its in-training stage and about three hours until it reached the Rookie stage. From there, it’ll take about 16 hours for Champion and so on.
Like other Digivices, there are requirements if you want a specific Digivolution to occur, ranging from having a certain amount of Vital values gained from completing the missions and being a good owner. Further, the number of trophies the Digimon has and their win/loss record in battles are also considered. You can check these conditions and the Digivolution timing by connecting your Vital Bracelet to the App and transferring your Digimon over.
The Vital Bracelet Lab App is available on mobile devices. The main use allows owners to transfer Digimon from the Vital Bracelet to a Storage solution since the device can only carry two a once. Furthermore, you to use items acquired on the App to heal your Digimon from wounds, shorten their evolution time by 10 or 30 minutes, and many other effects.
It’s also possible to slot in the Special Missions you get by logging in or using V-Coins to get those and items to your Digimon to clear when your Digimon is active in the Vital Bracelet. So far, I haven’t seen any way to get V-Coins through Microtransactions. You mainly get them by clearing the App’s missions, and most of them require you to connect the Vital Bracelet with the App.
The app’s usefulness extends into an index feature where you can see which Digimon you have acquired with information and other handy dandy details. The App is fully in Japanese, while the Vital Bracelet is only partially Japanese, using Japanese text for Digimon names and Digivolution stages. There are translation guides available on Digitama Hatchery.
Other features are coming to the Vital Bracelet Lab App according to the Digimon Calendar. An Online Battle mode was slated to release in an update later this month, along with online Arena battles and Raid Battles later down the line. I love that we are getting these features, as I don’t think I will find any fellow Digimon Tamers in my neighborhood to battle it out with.
I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with the Vital Bracelet. There have been complaints about some heartrate sensors malfunctioning, but I can’t speak to this since my device has been working properly. I’m looking forward to the various DiM Cards that Bandai will release in the future as I grow my digital group of monsters and battle with other trainers around the world.
The DiM cards are a great feature since you only need one Vital Bracelet, and you’re able to purchase cards whenever you want more Digimon. On a side note, I will say that they kinda did the Digimon Tamers-related DiM Cards a bit dirty making them Gashapon releases with limited lines and the lack of Terriermon. Regardless, I highly recommend this device to anyone looking to get back into the digital world.
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