What the Hell Is a Moshi Monster?

moshi_monsters.jpgMichael Smith, creator of the Perplex City puzzle game may be a little slow to deliver that second season, but it doesn't mean that he's been sitting around doing nothing. His next brainchild is Moshi Monsters, a mash of Tamagotchi, Pokemon and NintenDogs, with heaping helpings of MySpace and LeapFrog ladeled over it for good measure.

The physical embodiment of Moshi Monsters are what you see above and in the gallery below, cell-phone charms whose only interactive ability is to light up and twirl when your phone rings. They work with most phones, GSM and CDMA, simply by proximity; no need for Bluetooth pairing or anything fancy.

Each $10 charm comes with an unlock code, so that you can adopt a virtual version of your little pet. You "nurture" it by playing puzzles daily, and earn tokens to buy them trinkets, for your creature to wear or to decorate its home. You can take a picture of your virtual monster and send it to friends, and have people post comments about how excellent your Moshi is compared to their loser one. There's a running news column, similar to FaceBook's, and from what I can tell, Moshi Monsters will be able to meet online to interact, though there's no word yet on whether or not the interaction involves bloodsport.

OK, so now that you're kind of intrigued, here's the bad news: the Moshi Monsters target audience is 7-12 years of age, and due to the security required for the online component, you may be considered extra creepy if you're, say, in your thirties, even if you still live with the folks. That said, if you, or your offspring, do fit the criteria, keep a lookout on moshimonsters.com. It's not up yet, just a link to Smith's Mind Candy site, but it should go live in early September.

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