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Lost Games: Shin Megami Tensei - Devil Children


Foreword: 'Lost Games is a series of articles where I research and explore the games that we may never get a chance to play due to them never being released in English-speaking countries and having no available English translation, whether it be fan or official.'

I love Persona. Like, I'm obsessed with Persona. Did you see that trailer for Persona 5? I did and it looks like it has potential to be one of my favourite games ever (I just need to invest in a Sony console from the last two generations first). Now I'm probably going to turn the heads of a few hardcore fans when I say this, but Persona is the only series of games that I have played that are part of the much larger Megami Tensei meta-series and it looks like it might stay that way. I have done research into some of the other MegaTen (this is apparently how the hip kids abbreviate Megami Tensei, watch out world) games, checking out games such as Digital Devil Saga and Lucifer's Call (Nocturne everywhere else). Although these games seem cool, they are perhaps a little too 'hardcore' for my liking. The reason why I enjoyed Persona was because of its easy-to-approach nature, its ability to make choices and the level of immersion the game offered.


But before you wave your fists at me in rage because I am such a filthy casual (I know I don't game intensely, but I do have a large collection of older and retro games/consoles, and I enjoy playing them frequently, so please spare my soul) I did find another Megami Tensei spin-off series that I did like the look of, called Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children. It looks so much easier-to-approach than the other games that I've mentioned above, I'll even get it up on Wikipedia to show you:


Look, grown-up RPG's scare me, okay? So just allow me my moment to crawl in my skin and then I'll get on with explaining why this game actually looks really awesome and why I will sadly never get a chance to play it.
Okay, skin crawled. So yeah, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children was released for the Game Boy Color in 2000, developed by Multimedia Intelligence Transfer. There was a card game series, a manga and an anime based on this game as well as a remake on the PlayStation. After hearing that the series had an anime and a card game associated with it, my brain immediately thought of Pokémon, and although Red and Blue were the game's primary inspiration, this series also seems to share some things in common with Digimon. Not only do the monster designs seem like they could be placed into an episode of Digimon without raising any eyebrows, but they also have the ability to speak human language and converse with the 'devil child' (the human characters in these games are half demon) that they are comrades with.


What drew me to check out this game however, was the graphical style of it. It is presented in a similar manner to the old school Game Boy Pokémon games, with cute 'super-deformed' character sprites. I like the way those games looked, and that is the reason why I checked out games such as Mystic Quest (also known as Final Fantasy Adventure) and was intrigued by the misunderstood Keitai Denjuu Telefang (Pokémon fans might know this better as the game that got bootlegged in the west as the laughably translated Pokémon Jade and Diamond versions). Maybe it is something to do with my nostalgia for the Pokémon Game Boy games and my fascination with the worlds they took place in, either way Devil Children looks awesome for this reason. Check out the gameplay video below!



Something that soon becomes apparent from watching the video is that yes, the game is in Japanese. No, it has not been translated. I would put a sad face emoticon here but that would upset my OCD. Apart from the graphics and the presentation, there are quite a few other things that I really like about this game and are exactly the reason why I want to see a translation in the future. Let's go through them.
Devil Children was released in three versions, the first two being Black Book and Red Book (seen below), which were then followed by White Book, similar to how the Pokémon games are released (e.g. Red and Blue, then Yellow and so on until Nintendo eventually milks the series dry), and like those games, there are different monsters exclusive to each version, that you can trade using the Game Boy's link cable. You can also use the link cable to battle friends. Remember how Red and Blue inspired these games?


Unlike Red and Blue though, the story of the game also differs depending on the version of the game. Kai Setsuna, the hero of Black Book, goes searching for his kidnapped brother, while Kaname Mirai, the heroine of Red Book, is looking for her mother's keepsake, a Jewel, which was stolen from her. White Book takes place months after Black Book and Red Book and features  Kuzuha Masaki, who is looking for an antidote for the 'Dark Slumber' that his little sister has been placed in.


Also unlike Pokémon, instead of catching monsters, you recruit them through 'diplomacy'. Also, the character who recruits them levels up and as the character levels up, the chances of whether or not the Demon will join you increases. So no more losing out on a monster because you used up your last Poké Ball; if you are the right level, you can grab them as part of your team.


While the Persona community seems to be breaking off into the mainstream, the Megami Tensei meta-series still seems to draw in mainly a niché crowd, and although fans of this meta-series exist in large numbers, it still might be some time until we see a proper English translation of these games. As far as translations go, Game Boy games seem much easier to hack than games from other consoles (this is merely an observation, I am not an experienced hacker by any means) so with some time a kind bilingual individual or team could translate these games for an English-speaking audience. However, seeing as the games are split into three story lines, that is three whole games that will need to be translated. Until that day comes, I will just have to ponder what it would be like to play these awesome games... Or I could just stop being lazy and learn Japanese. Nah, I think I'll just keep on pondering.

 
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