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DemiKids: Dark Version (Game Boy Advance) artwork

DemiKids: Dark Version (Game Boy Advance) review

"One must give credit to Atlus for trying to spark a little controversy. DemiKids comes off as the anti-Pokemon. The majority of your monsters aren't cutesy puff-balls of fluff. They're demons who'll only fight for you if the price is right, and look more like rejects from the old Beetlejuice cartoon. Not only can you recruit Lucifer himself but there's also noticeable phallic imagery and a naked woman or two. It's just too bad that for all the uniqueness the game offers it all turns out to be a ..."

One must give credit to Atlus for trying to spark a little controversy. DemiKids comes off as the anti-Pokemon. The majority of your monsters aren't cutesy puff-balls of fluff. They're demons who'll only fight for you if the price is right, and look more like rejects from the old Beetlejuice cartoon. Not only can you recruit Lucifer himself but there's also noticeable phallic imagery and a naked woman or two. It's just too bad that for all the uniqueness the game offers it all turns out to be a slightly above average adventure.

In DemiKids you play the role of one of two friends, Jin or Akira. In the dark version of the game you play as blue-haired Akira, schoolboy and demon summoner extrordinaire. The game starts with Akira meeting a new classmate by the name of Amy. Amy overhears Akira, Jin and thier friend Leena casually talking about summoning up the forces of darkness in the school Library. You know, when I was Akira's age the most vile thing I'd do is leave the toilet seat up. This kid has me beat. Amy asks if she can join in on the groups plans to perform the dark summoning ritual and naturally they agree. The more blood sacrifices the better, right? The summoning is actually sucessful and a monster appears from the portal that's opened. Luckily, Amy is not only prepared for this sort of thing but she's also from another world where this sort of monstrocity is common! She grants Akira and Jin the ability to bring out thier own monsters and the story takes off from there. Atlus promises a different story for each version and they certianly deliver. In all actuality, the story is so disjointed and odd that even comparing both versions of the game is not enough to piece this mess of a narrative together. No matter which version you're playing the story is sloppy and not the highlight of your trip. Even Akira can't seem to care when a main character is killed off in the late part of the game.

Thankfully, the variety of locations and monsters in both versions sort of make up for it. DemiKids has over 300 different types of monsters and that's not even counting the different color variations or the variations on your guide monster as he evolves. These beasties range from little snowmen to pixies, all the way up to hulking demonic brutes and nude succubi. There are a good amount of different monsters in each version and some monsters must be made by combining those in the different versions. What's probably one of the oddest things about DemiKids, however, is that some of the more hidden monsters require passwords to get. While that in itself isn't so strange, the monsters inform you, in a blatant plug, to look for said password in a rescent issue of Nintendo Power. It's just like playing Punch Out!, when Mac would beg his trainer for help. Mac would be bloody and bruised, bleeding internally and losing the fight. He'd beg for advice from the wise man whom had trained him, and in his infinate wisdom Mac's trainer would respond with a chipper ''Join the Nintendo Fan Club, Mac!''. Sage advice indeed.

As far as gameplay goes, DemiKids is fairly different from Pokemon. You still venture from town to town fighting baddies along the way, but it's recruiting and raising your demons that's different from the norm. Eventually you can have up to three monsters out at a time, but one must always be your ''guide'' monster, the monster that's the first to join you at the begining of the game. Your guide levels up by combining him with other monsters, and he will earn thier experience and raise in level. He also gets stronger each time he evolves, and depending on the responses you pick when he evolves, you'll get a different beastie. It's tough to keep him up to par with the monsters you find though, because it takes an ungodly amount of monsters to level him up even once, while you'll be finding demons at least five levels higher than he is. Other than your guide you can have up to two other monsters out, and five other monsters waiting behind them, for a total of thirteen (!) demons with you at once. It's just too bad that these other demons are more like weapons, as opposed to members of your party you can grow attached to. In the dark version these other demons level up the same as your guide (not through battle, but by combining with others). However, you have the option of recruiting different monsters to replace them or fusing them with others to simply create a better demon. Why go through the painfull process of leveling them up when you could just as easily smash them together with another demon to make a better one who's ten levels higher? Because of this you can never grow to care about any of the demons in your party. They just hang out until they outlive thier usefulness and then they're tossed aside to make room for the next demon. Recruiting these monsters is different than Pokemon as well. You don't simply beat them senseless and put them in cages. You pick one of your demons to represent you and negotiate with other monsters. You can choose from two random options such as ''Forcefull'', ''Humor'', and ''Diplomacy''. Different tactics work on different demons. The demon you're trying to recruit may simply agree to join you, they may refuse and get a boost in attack power, or beg you for money or items. You'll also get plenty of chances to recruit new monsters, because when you're outside of the saftey of a town you'll be fighting every four or five steps, which quickly turns aggrivating.

Aside from negotiating with hellbeasts, Akira can gamble in a casino, take a quiz on demons or mess around in the Battlenet. The Battlenet is a somewhat wasted feature. If you've got a friend with DemiKids and a link cable, you can battle your monsters or trade (naturally). The single-player aspects of it need some fleshing out though. There's a near endless tournament mode where you fight battle after battle without an option to quit (after the 20th or so fight, this is something I longed for) and a battle mode where you pick a single opponent and go to it. With bigger prizes and more options, it could have been a fun diversion, but it turns out to be just another aspect of DemiKids that should have been more thought out.

Visually DemiKids isn't bad. It's probably one of the best aspects of the game. The areas and monsters are nicely done, and some of the spell effects are rather nice to look at. Too bad the same sort of effort wasn't put into the music. The music tracks DemiKids offers up are simply horrid. These are three or four second tracks that repeat endlessly and never suit the mood of the place you're in. I'm certian most people will want to simply mute the sound and play the game that way.

All in all I wouldn't call DemiKids a bad game. Far from it. It's above average. It's nothing noteworthy and quite far from being one of those ''must play'' games, but it's an interesting little diversion for a while, and especially if you like RPG's and games like Pokemon. DemiKids is definately nothing you're going to want to waste hour after hour on, but maybe a few moments here and there. It does something unique, but unfortunately it doesn't do it well enough.

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Community review by kramerica (February 24, 2004)

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