NAMM 2024: A Tamagotchi guitar pedal that levels up with your playing? And it plays Snake and Space Invaders? Ground Control just dropped 2024’s wackiest stompbox

Ground Control UwU
(Image credit: Ground Control)

Montreal’s Ground Control is setting the worlds of guitar pedals and video games on a collision course with its latest pedal, the UwU. It’s tremendously ridiculous and will be the firm’s centrepiece at NAMM 2024.

The pedal itself is a signal chain booster and Tamagotchi-inspired game all in one. A cat-like creature lives inside the pedal and responds to your playing. Suffice to say, it’s blown our minds.

Stepping momentarily aside from the gimmicks, the UwU is a robust op-amp guitar buffer pedal, giving it actual live rig value. It guards even the longest chains from signal loss thanks to its 18v of signal headroom and it also sports high input impedance (1MΩ) and low output impedance (25Ω). Naturally, though, it’s the other side of the pedal that’s grabbing the headlines, including this one.

For those too young to remember, Tamagotchis took a generation by storm in the ‘90s, with virtual pets living inside a tiny, egg-shaped unit which featured a small screen and a couple of buttons. They had to be regularly fed and entertained, just like a real pet else, erm… there was a reset button the back. Now Ground Control has injected that Tamagotchi spirit into a guitar pedal for absolutely no reason. But we are very much here for it.

The pedal’s pet, visible via an OLED screen, reacts to your input signal in real-time, levelling up the more you play. Each level features its own cutsey animations, with the level cap at 30. At that point, we predict it can only be satisfied by a diet of Arpeggios From Hell, Through the Fire and Flames and Dance of Eternity.

In the spirit of old cartridge-based console games, progress is saved between power cycles using a coin cell battery. The pedal also boasts a collection of mini arcade games, including Space Invaders and Snake-like games which, for copyright reasons, are not Space Invaders and Snake.

The games are playable with a pair of front-panel buttons. Finally, you’ll have something to do at practice and soundcheck while you wait for your drummer to stop hitting things. The pedal also creates the opportunity to restore your karma stock, having not fed your poor Tamagotchi since 1998.

Ground Control was founded in 2016. Its roster of pedals includes overdrives, mid-boosts, compressors and the biblically named Locust Distortion. It even has its own tape-only record label called Sad Songs, creating a reputation for outside-the-box thinking. The UwU, however, already stands as its strangest concoction yet.

Priced at $139, it is now available for preorder directly from the Ground Control website and participating retailers. It ships out in March after its NAMM appearance, where we’ll no doubt see the likes of Ola Englund, Paul Masvidal and Guitar World staff battling for the high score.

For more information about all things UwU, visit GroundControlAudio.com

To stay in the loop with all gear releases ahead of NAMM 2024, head over to our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.