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Babyz is a computer game in which one can play with and take care of a group of babies who live in a virtual house on the computer. The game was released in 1999 by The Learning Company, developed by members of PF Magic working there at the time.
Babyz runs on top of the Petz 3 game engine, adding additional AI and voice recognition. For example, players can teach their Babyz baby talk, how to play with objects, and how to walk. Babyz can also form relationships with other babyz that can result in sibling rivalries or friendships.
When Babyz was first released in 1999, there were 15 babyz you could adopt and care for, as well as various toys that babyz could interact with. There were also many different rooms to explore and a number of different clothing items. Babyz reused some of the Petz toyz and had a similar home setting for its playscenes. Most of the game's original content can be downloaded and accessed by anyone via user-websites. Users have created ways to make the game playable with Windows XP and create custom content that users can use with their Babyz, as well as unofficial adoption centers and pages.
A Babyz Community started on the official site, which has since been shut down. The website offered adoptions and discussions. Soon after, people started forming their own forums and babyz websites with similar content. "Pageants" are where people enter pictures of their babyz posing and earning awards. In 2003, The Babyz Community Rating System, loosely based on the Petz Community rankings, was created which allows people to register three or four of their babyz, and gain points whenever they win in a pageant.
Around the same time, fan websites were going up, it was discovered that one could hex edit the babyz to introduce new hairstyles, eye colours, etc. These edited babyz ("hexies" or "hexed babyz") and custom clothes were often available on fan websites and unique babyz became highly preferred over the simple ones that the game first came with. Many fans tried to petition the game's creators for a Babyz 2, similar to the five sequels that were created for the Petz franchise, however nothing ever came of this. Today, user activity has continued to the point where many users testify that the dedicated hexers and custom content creators have banded together to essentially create their own "Babyz 2," despite the discontinued support from the original creators.
Babyz was originally made for the Windows 95/98 Platform, however with the creation of a patch by Nicholas Sherlock, the game can now be played in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7; both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Sherlock's patch, called "Petz A" as it was intended for both Petz and Babyz, also made the game run much smoother, with the ability to change the game speed, save babyz' pictures in a different format, and also control many aspects of the game that users originally could not. It also introduced sliders to view and change the levels of the babyz' hunger, energy, sickness, and age. The Petz A patch can be found at Sherlock's website.
Although not produced any longer, Babyz can still be found at various online retail sites including DirtCheapSoftware.com, Babyz.com, and through various Amazon and eBay sellers. Most of these places offer information and limited support on applying the patch for newer versions of Microsoft Windows.