NEW YORK (Kyodo) Tamagotchi Connection, the new generation of the Tamagotchi virtual pet, went on sale Tuesday in New York and San Francisco ahead of nationwide release Sunday.

Bandai America Inc. said it hopes the new version of Tamagotchi, which roughly translates as “cute, lovable egg,” will outstrip sales of the highly successful original Tamagotchi, launched in the U.S. market in 1996.

Tamagotchi Connection, which has infrared technology, allows owners to become friends with other Tamagotchi owners and store a list of up to 50 friends, according to Bandai America, a U.S. unit of Bandai Co.

“Once an adult, the Tamagotchi can connect with a compatible Tamagotchi friend and have a second-generation Tamagotchi that the owner can care for and nurture into an adult to create a possible third and fourth generation,” Bandai America said.

Tamagotchi Connection was launched in Japan in March, selling more than 1 million units in five months.

The original virtual pet debuted in 1996 and sold more than 40 million units around the world and 12 million in the United States and Canada.

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