Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
While it’s definitely not a clone, people have often compared the popular Persona games to the Pokemon series. You collect monsters by battling them and then, potentially, having them join your party. You level them up individually and each monster has their own unique stats, moves, and types. Persona also has many more elements to it that differentiates it from Pokemon but what if that weren’t the case? What if Shin Megami Tensei had a straight up Pokemon clone? Today’s game is exactly that. Today’s game is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children – Light and Dark Book, developed by Multimedia Intelligence Transfer and released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children was released in the west as DemiKids Light and Dark versions, for pretty obvious reasons. Selling a kid’s game in the west called Devil Children wouldn’t have been the best marketing move, especially with Pokemon already attracting attention from certain vocal Christian groups. Still, the game wasn’t about changing much of the in-game content so the game still has the kids summoning devils and Lucifer himself is a main character in each game. For the rest of this episode, I’m going to refer to the game by it’s western title, DemiKids for simplicity’s sake.
Like Pokemon, DemiKids was released in two versions, Light Version and Dark Version. Each version has exclusive demons to collect and getting them all requires trading using the GBA link cable with someone who owns the opposite version. Unlike Pokemon though, the Light and Dark versions are actually their own entirely separate games. Light Version follows a kid named Jin while the Dark version follows Akira. Jin is taken to the world of Valhalla to fight alongside the Sun Lion Rand while Jin is taken to the world of Dem by Lucifer himself. Each game follows their own story that intertwines at certain moments.
Gameplay is very similar to previous Shin Megami Tensei games. You play battles out in the first person and can attack or talk to monsters. Talking to monsters might get them to join you based on random chance or they may have some other response such as attacking or running away. Fusing demons together gives the player new demons of higher level. Unlike Pokemon, the demons do not level up on their own. Instead, players level up their player character, either Akira or Jin, and their level determines what fusions may create. This means that DemiKids tends to focus more on getting the highest level demons rather than collecting all of them, like Pokemon.
Critical reception was all over the place with DemiKids, as well as the rest of the entries in this small series. Some critics found it to be more engaging than Pokemon while others felt it paled in comparison. While DemiKids would never see a sequel in the west, there were actually three other main series entries in Japan, two previous entries on the Game Boy Color and one sequel also on the Game Boy Advance. In Japan, the series would receive a large media push with multiple manga and anime adaptations being made. None of this would be localized in the west, which was perhaps to their benefit. The subject matter would have been highly controversial had DemiKids gotten any real attention as it is a game ultimately about children summoning demons to fight for them. Notably though, DemiKids was the first game in the west to be published with the Shin Megami Tensei name intact although, since the name was only written out in kanji, most westerners likely weren’t able to read it anyway. It wouldn’t be until a year later with Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne for the PS2 that the series’ name would be written out in English lettering.
Thank you so much for listening! If you liked the show, please head to my Amazon skill page and leave a review. It helps bring in more listeners and I get feedback about how I can improve and grow. It’s a win for everyone! You can also hear Adrian Simple and I in our new podcast, The Gaming Observer Podcast! We record new episodes every Tuesday talking about the news and industry analysis. We just posted a new episode talking about the next gen consoles coming out this holiday season so give it a listen and hear our thoughts on how a 2020 release is going to go. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!