The UwU Virtual Pet Buffer is a Tamagotchi in a guitar pedal

I’m not gonna pretend I’ve figured you, the Engadget reader, out. Trying to predict what is gonna get your little nerd hearts all a flutter is kind of a crapshoot. But, I’m pretty confident that a Tamagotchi in a guitar pedal is right up your alley. Ground Control Audio showed up to NAMM 2024 with the UwU virtual pet buffer pedal.

Now buffer pedals are about the least exciting piece of gear you can buy for your pedal board. Probably even less so than a tuner. But, if you’ve got a particularly large board or long cables, a buffer can dramatically improve your tone. Basically all it does is take the signal coming in and give it a little boost so you don’t lose precious high end to tone suck. Like I said, not exciting.

What UwU does is no different, except that it has a Tamagotchi-style virtual pet and a handful of mini-games built in. As you play, your new pedalboard buddy dances and gains experience points. As the little cat like creature gains experience it evolves over 30 levels with unique animations. As for what happens once you cross that 30 level threshold, well, the company hasn’t decided just yet. But there is still time to decide that since the pedal isn’t set to start shipping until March.

If simply having a new little virtual friend on your board isn’t enough whimsy for you, the UwU also has three mini-games built in. There’s Long Cat (a snake clone), Fishy Blox (vaguely Tetris-like) and Neko Invader. The tiny monochrome OLED and small buttons aren’t exactly ideal for playing games (and neither is hunching over a pedalboard I might add), but it feels true to its inspiration in old cellphone games.

The Ground Control Audio UwU virtual pet buffer pedal playing 'Fishy Blocks' at NAMM 2024.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

If you’re sitting there wondering, “why?” Well, first off, why not? Secondly, to keep you playing, obviously. Finding the time and drive to play or practice guitar can be tough. Especially if you’re teen with a hectic life of extra curriculars or, like me, a busy dad of two with a demanding day job. The UwU gives you a reason to play beyond just knowing you should. Carving out a few minutes every day to play will keep your adorable little UwU happy and healthy. Frankly, if I had one of these when I was younger and stubbornly clinging to my belief that I didn’t need to know music theory or technique, maybe I’d be a more proficient guitarist.

Of course none this would matter if the UwU was a crappy buffer. But it’s got 18v headroom and doesn’t color your tone at all. It’s even super tiny, so finding room for it on even the most crowded of pedalboards shouldn’t be too difficult.

The UwU virtual pet buffer is available now for preorder directly from Ground Control Audio for $139.

The Ground Control Audio UwU virtual pet buffer pedal on a pedalboard next to the Ground Control Audio Bread Oath Overdrive.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

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