My Life by Giochi Preziosi

Console Name: My Life
Release Date: September 2007
Original Price: €64.90
Country of Origin: Italia
Publisher: Giochi Preziosi

History
Giochi Preziosi an Italian toy company. Founded in 1978 by Enrico Preziosi the company produces toys and TV series based on their toys. The company started dabbling in video games with the release of the digiBLAST in 2005 as some of the Intellectual Properties of company were ported to the device. After this incursion in the gaming world, Giochi Preziosi had the idea of releasing their own handheld console. The idea of My Life came from the success story of Second Life, a virtual game that had reached a population of 6,000,000 virtual citizens by 2007. The company built on that idea to create a handheld aimed for girls.

Release
Released in Italia in 2007, the My Life was a huge success for Giochi Preziosi. The handheld revolved around the creation of your own avatar which would then be the centrepiece of the device. The handheld feature a virtual world, a varieties of built in mini games, tamagotchi-like responsibilities, dressing room, etc. With the built-in infrared communication port, two handhelds could exchange messages (up to 3 feet of distance) and even share accessories. The handheld was built to be expandable with the uses of “Magic Keys”. Each key would unlock either accessories or fashion item within the handheld. Three expansion cartridges were also released which includes additional mini games, places, fashion and characters. The expansion cartridges would also have their own unique mini key that would unlock even more digital assets. Giochi Preziosi was even able to partner with Disney to release a Hannah Montana expansion cartridge. The console was even bundled with this cartridge for a while.

Following the success of the Italian release, Giochi Preziosi released the console in many locations in Europe including : Italia, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greek and Denmark.  The console was also released under license in other countries, such as the United States in 2008 where it was distributed by Playmate.

The company marketed the console as “the first virtual console designed entirely for women“. This claim was in fact false, as other consoles were designed for girls before, including the Super Lady Cassette Vision, the Casio Loopy and the Paluseata.

The console had a few shortcomings, especially related to the lack of a keyboard. Writing anything on the handheld is cumbersome and time-consuming, making the ability to  send text messages really unappealing.

Demise
The console did overall pretty well, selling over a million units. The console continued to be supported until 2010 when it was replaced in 2010 by a new handheld console called My Real Life. The new console was basically an updated version of My Life with the notable difference of an inclusion of an MP3 player and digital camera.  In the U.S., the console was quickly discontinued in 2009 less than a year after its U.S. release.

Cartridges
The console has two types of cartridges : the magic keys and the expansion cartridges. Although the magic keys insert in the cartridge slot, they seem to only unlock digital assets already present in the handheld, therefore not containing any data. The expansion cartridges, on the other hand, are full blown game cartridges with an extra connector to allow special magic keys, that only work with each expansion cartridge, to be connected. Only 3 of these expansion cartridges were ever made:

 

My World Club Disco
Hannah Montana
Summer Party

 

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