Metal Slug 2
Image: SNK

Back in the '90s, virtual pets were all the rage, with everyone and their grandmother carrying around the keychain-sized critters to ensure they didn't pop their clogs when no one was looking. And it appears that Metal Slug developers were not immune to this global phenomenon, with many of its pixel artists becoming obsessed with Digimon during the development of the series.

The story comes courtesy of Akio, a former Nazca Corp and Irem developer, who has been regaling his Twitter followers over the last year or so with a bunch of stories from his decades of game development, typically accompanied by an illustration.

In a recent tweet, he recounted the humourous story about how a junior colleague introduced the pixel artists to Digimon, leading a bunch of senior developers to rush out to buy their very own virtual pets.

From there, the team supposedly became hooked on the tiny digital toys, even going to the lengths of feeding them and looking after them during work hours. This became such an issue that a boss at Nazca, who was sick of seeing Digimon around the office, had to intervene, eventually banning them from the workplace entirely.

In response to the tweet, another former Irem/Nazca/SNK veteran Kuichin added their own memories of the short-lived craze, revealing that he was among those who ended up buying a virtual pet and that he is also the person depicted on the right of Akio's drawing.

Kuichin recalled that he became so obsessed with the toy that he ended up getting a telling-off from his boss. He also remarked on how strange it was that the team had pretty much no interest in Tamagotchi, but bizarrely couldn't get enough of Digimon's range of digital pets.

Both Kuichin and Akio are currently working together on Black Finger Jet — a spiritual successor to the Metal Slug series. You can watch the trailer for that game here.