Since the time before Digimon was on your consoles, on your TV, or a collectible card, they had their origins as a Digimon Virtual Pet. You could view your Digimon on a screen smaller than a thumb and raise them to become Champions! (and Ultimates, and Megas…) Digimon VPets took on a relatively similar format until recently with the Digimon Vital Bracelet and its newer edition to tie into the currently airing anime series Digimon Ghost Game. Does the new Digimon Vital Bracelet V work well to bring Digimon V-Pet into the modern day?
Moving away from the keychain format, the Vital Bracelet V instead has a Fitbit-style smartwatch design with a long vertical color display. Digimon continues to lean into its roots by displaying your pixelated Digimon on the home screen along with the time and daily steps. For an upgraded digivice, it's actually quite impressive that the Vital Bracelet V has not only clock and pedometer functions, but it also has a heart rate monitor that updates itself every 5 minutes. The band that it comes with is a rubber strap with notches that you can clip into; unfortunately, the band is not one size fits all. Luckily, Etsy is not short of entrepreneurs who are printing larger bands so don't be too worried about the size.
Another drastic change that the Vital Bracelet V has over its predecessors is that instead of each device coming with a set stock of Digimon, the brand has swapped to what they call DiM cards. Each of the cards comes with its own line of Digimon to raise and battle with. The Vital Bracelet V, in partnering with Digimon Ghost Game, comes with a DiM card for Gammamon and his evolutionary line. With it, you get the single Rookie Digimon, an additional four Champions, and three Megas.
Where this system works so well is that each time you want to get a new Digimon, you no longer need to be buying an entirely new device, just a new DiM card. From Agumon and Veemon, all the way to obscure Digimon lines like Machmon, there's a sizeable number of DiM cards already available with more on the way. When a new pendulum can be four times as expensive as a single DiM card, this affordable alternative is actually a really refreshing change in a world where everything seems to continue getting more expensive.
To raise your Digimon, you need to fulfill a series of requirements including the amount of time they've been alive, the number of battles they've taken part in, and the number of trophies they've earned. While the first two criteria are simple enough to understand, the trophies can be earned by completing different fitness-related activities. Picture it like daily missions but instead of needing to fight or complete a mission in a video game you'll instead perform squats for 20 seconds, or do 30 seconds of sit-ups. While none of the daily activities are particularly taxing, it does get you moving a bit throughout the day.
Aside from daily tasks, there are also step goals. After walking steps in increments of 500, your Digimon will come across another Digimon to battle. In order to access the step goals, you need to specifically trigger the Advance Mission, which can lead to some frustration. It would be much easier for your steps towards digivolution goals to be constantly active; it's not uncommon for me to get halfway through my day and realize it was never tracking.
Another interesting change from previous pendulums is that in the Vital Bracelet V there's no point where your Digimon will die of old age. In a traditional pendulum, half of the journey is having your Digimon die and getting to start again. There are ways to force a Digimon to die, like letting them face defeat in battle repeatedly during the day, but there's something about their little pixel faces that I can't quite force them into fighting until death.
So what to do with a Digimon that you've raised to its peak physical form that won't die? Here's where the last big feature of the Vital Bracelet V comes into play. At any time you're able to sync your Vital Bracelet V with your phone via NFC to download your Digimon off the watch and into the Vital Brace Lab app.
The app is for raising Digimon and a few random battles, but it also lets you connect to the internet and enjoy a variety of other features like your Digidex, where you can track all of the DiM cards including which Digimon you've owned or encountered, and battle against other users online. This is also where you can store a limited number of Digimon off the bracelet itself for future viewing. One thing that the app is sorely missing is any kind of friend functionality; a way to selectively battle friends or see their Digimon would really help the community aspect of the device.
It's such a stark juxtaposition from the pendulum-style Digivices from even two years ago that they still required physical contact to battle a friend all the way to network connectivity and even themed raid battles. Every aspect of the Vital Bracelet V, from the upgradeable roster to network connectivity, is such a monumental leap forward in technology. It feels like the Vital Bracelet V is trying to completely make up for lost time with so many innovations.
Digimon Vital Bracelet V Review | Verdict
If you were a fan of Digivices in your youth and are interested, the Vital Bracelet V is a fantastic stepping-in point. You have all of the benefits of it doubling as a barebones fitness band while being able to power up your Digimon through exercise. With 11 DiM Cards currently available and at least 6 more on the way, it also shows how committed Bandai Namco is to the longevity of this product. If you feel you have a larger than average wrist, it's likely you'll need to buy yourself a band upgrade but other than that the Vital Bracelet V is an excellent new entry to the Digimon V-Pet line of toys.
TechRaptor reviewed the Digimon Vital Bracelet V with a device purchased by the reviewer.