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Demi Kids Dark & Light
Atlus has really proven over the years that they produce games of superb quality, but sadly they have a flaw that leads to these gems getting lost in the shuffle to your average gamer. Atlusís advertisement department, or whoever is in charge of a similar department, has some serious issues. Ask your casual RPG gamer about Demi-Kids: Light and Dark and youíre going to get some blank stares, ask them about the Shin Megami Tensi series and you may get slightly better reactions, but not by much. Demi-Kids: Light and Dark is the name given to these games for the U.S. releases, but in all actuality they are part of the long-standing, and well received, Japanese Shin Megami Tensi series. I could, literally, fill pages and pages up with info on this series, but obviously cannot. Looking into it is well worth your while though, and one place I would point you for a brief history/reference point would be the two reviews of the Dark and Light versions of this game over at 411games. But enough of the chit chat, letís get down to business here.
Demi-Kids takes a proven formula in the world of hand held gaming and truly makes it more fun then you could imagine. What is that formula you ask? Simple: Pokemon and all itís leveling up, creature filled, fun. Now you might be saying, ďDamn, not another Pokemon clone, etc.Ē. I urge you to not do that, and to give these two games a chance, because they are truly worth it. So letís get to this in order. Weíll start with the battle system. Itís pretty straightforward. Depending on the game you choose you either play as Akira (Dark) or Jin (Light), but the system as would expect is the same for both games. In fact the only differences in the games are the story lines, certain demons that appear in only one version, and slightly different ways in creating and acquiring demons. You get to field, after an upgrade to your DemiLoc (think of this is how you fight and use your Demons in battle) in the early stages of the games, three demons on the battlefield at once. What is nice about this is that it allows you to really customize your team to your liking. In reserve, once again depending on what upgrades you have to your DemiLoc you can have anywhere from 3 to 9 Demons ready to switch onto the battle field. There are, of course, some rules and limitations, one example being the ability to only hold king sized Demons in certain spots in your DemiLoc, but these rules are not hard to follow, and tutorials throughout the game do an excellent job of clearing up any confusion you may have. As for the actual fighting, it is like Pokemon, but has its differences. Your demons have regular attacks, special attacks, at times they have combination attacks, and magic attacks, to name the most important ones. Itís a balancing game really to find out what works and what does not, which attacks also damage you and which do not. What it all equals is a hell of a good time as you explore each demonís capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Now of course, in order to progress in this game you have to get yourself a team of Demons. The possibilities are nearly endless with over 300 demons in the games. But how do you catch them? This is where Demi-Kids simplifies things a bit. You get other demons by negotiating through any number of ways with them using your current demons as the negotiators. If you are successful, then great, youíll probably get the demon, or at least an item of healing spell cast on you. If you are not successful, then look out cause youíre going to be in for a bit of hurting. Of course certain demons make better choices for negotiating then others, which also adds another dimension of strategy to the game. But, while weíre on the subject of acquiring demons, this is not the only way to get them. One of the coolest features of Demi-Kids is something called Fusion. In many towns there will be a Fusion centers where you can merge two of your demons to create all new demons. Some demons can only be acquired through this method, and it is really a trial and error process (luckily you can see what you will get before you fuse.) And the last way we have of acquiring demons, it is by buying or finding relics, which also can be fused together to create demons. As you can imagine, the possibilities, once again are bountiful. All in all the battle system, in all itís glory, improves on a formula that is already time tested and adds truly original aspects that expand game play exponentially.
Moving along, we have our interface, which at first can seem a bit overwhelming. There is a lot to do in your interface, and lot you can manage, tinker, and play around with. But, after a few minutes in it, you see that Demi-Kids really has laid out a good interface that keeps track of everything: items, demons, relics, a Demon Listing (think Pokedex here), your DemiLoc, and so on and so forth. There are even spots to keep maps of areas visited, and music you have heard should you choose to buy it as the game progresses. Make no mistake about it; this game has a lot in it, and a lot to organize. Thankfully the interface is more then up to the task and once you get the hang out of it managing your supplies and demons will be a simplistic task that doesnít bog you down.
Moving right along, when it comes to music and sound, Demi-Kids fails to deliver a remarkable or memorable soundtrack. While it is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it simply is not music that you will find yourself getting you more into the game. You may find yourself listening to your own music; I know I did, while playing this game. The important part of all this is that despite itís blandness it truly does not detract from the game. The game will hook you regardless of what your ears might be telling you, it is that good. The same can be said for originality. Despite all the wonderful things I said in the battle system part of this review, I cannot change that fact that Demi-Kids is simply a more powerful Pokemon, which gives you a better challenge, and a better replay value. But is that bad? Not to me, no. Demi-Kids strength does not lie within its originality, instead it is held within its game play, addictiveness, and replay value. While certainly not the most original game you will ever play on the GBA, Demi-Kids makes up for it in all the other elements that make these games so much fun.
When we turn our attention to the plot of the game, you get perhaps its strongest aspect. Both games weave together telling the same story from different angles, filling in blanks here and there, as you follow the adventures of Akira, Jin, and Lena. Along the way youíll meet Lucifer, other Gods, and strong entities, every one of them that weaves their way into the story. This isnít a kidís story folks. The world has good demons and bad demons, and Lucifer just happens to be on your side, and oddly is a rather nice guy:) Needless to stay the story line for this game is not what Westernerís such as ourselves would be used to, but THAT is what makes this game so refreshing. This isnít your normal story, these arenít your normal protagonists, and you havenít quite been exposed to a storyline like this is you happen to be a casual rpger, that much I can virtually guarantee. I really do not want to give away any spoilers here, because it truly is a great plot, so if you want more info go elsewhere, or better yet: pick up the game for yourself. Now it stands to reason that a good plot usually has a good localization, and itís true here. The translation is very good, with very few errors (if any, I honestly didnít sit there nitpicking) throughout the game.
As we near the end here, I have to say a few words on the replay value of this game. Infinite. Endless. Youíll sit there trying to find every demon until you exhaust yourself, and then youíll do it just a bit more. I do not kid you when I say the possibilities are nearly endless. This game is virtually designed with replay value in mind, and that is not surprising considering the Pokemon formula that it follows. If youíre looking for a game that is going to eat your time up then this is it, because time absolutely flies when youíre playing it. I found myself looking at the clock at times and wondering when the hell it had become 4 am. Certainly that was also helped out by how easy on the eyes this game us.
Make no mistake about it: Demi-Kids delivers in terms of visuals. The demons are all unique and stunning in their own way. Such detail went into the creation of these creatures, which you find yourself marveling at the sheer number of them; all and how much specialization there is for each. The cut scenes for the storyline are equally as beautiful, each character alive and vibrant in terms of color and features. I am also very partial to Japanese animation, and since these characters are drawn in such a manner it was only a plus for me, personally. All in all, if you are a person who lives and dies by the graphics of a game, then on the GBA I would be hard pressed to point you to a better example of how good a GBA game can be in terms of visuals.
Finally, we come to the difficulty of this game. Honestly itís not hard. Like many games of this subgenre you will be able to complete it without a lot of trouble. I would say it is anywhere from easy to medium in terms of difficultly, with a run through of 15-20 hours to beat. However that is if you are just playing to beat the game, see the ending, etc. The difficulty is substantially harder should you choose to get as much as you possibly can in this game, and the time you will spend doing so will quickly add up. In conclusion, I think itís obvious of my apparent like for this game. I would recommend it to anyone out there, and honestly hope some of you give this oft forgotten title a try.
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