DemiKids provides an alternative to Pokémon, but it isn't nearly as fun or diverse.
Atlus is a company that has a reputation for bringing games over to North America from Japan that other companies might not give a second glance. The company's bread and butter seems to be tactical simulations and role-playing games with supernatural subplots or quirky gameplay mechanics that you won't often find in mass-market games. DemiKids for the Game Boy Advance certainly fits right in with this pattern. Originally called Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children 2 in Japan, DemiKids is a dark, Pokémon-style role-playing game that lets you go into battle not with a gaggle of cute, cuddly monsters, but with a horde of ugly, dangerous demons. For various reasons, DemiKids doesn't stack up all that well against Nintendo's Pokémon games in terms of variety, fun, or overall cohesiveness, but it is decent enough to provide most players with a healthy 10 to 20 hours of play time.
The story centers around two students, Jin and Akira, who live in an Earth-like place called Rem. Jin and Akira are DemiKids--part-human, part-demon beings that can control and raise demons. Unfortunately, at the exact moment their powers awaken, everything goes haywire. A time rift opens up on the roof of the school, demons start appearing in Rem, and their friend Lena is taken to another dimension by an ugly dragon. It's not long before the pair discovers the real cause of these calamities: An evil demon named Imperius has opened numerous time rifts in his bid to take over two other worlds--Valhalla and Dem. In order to stop Imperious and restore order to Rem, Jin and Akira need to gather the time chains and confront Imperious. Depending on which version of the game you play, light or dark, you'll control Jin as he travels through Valhalla or Akira as he wanders through Dem.
DemiKids shares so much in common with Pokémon that it's obvious the designers intended for the game to be a supernaturally themed alternative to Nintendo's G-rated series. You take control of a trainer, called a "DemiKid," and set out into the world to recruit monsters to be used in battle. Each monster, or "demon," as the game calls them, has its own set of attacks, magic, and skills. The demons in DemiKids also have elemental characteristics--such as fire, water, ice, dark, and light--just like the monsters in Pokémon do. You can have up to three demons on the battlefield at one time, but a device called a "loc" allows you to have up to nine more ready to jump in if one of your main monsters is knocked out. The additional demons you recruit are stored in a portable computer called a "vinecom," which, much like the Pokédex in Pokémon, also functions as an inventory for the items you get and as a demon dictionary that keeps track of all the demons you've discovered.
One way DemiKids distinguishes itself from Pokémon is in how the story is split between the two versions of the game. DemiKids is available in two flavors: light and dark. Both games overlap at key points in the story, but each game is set in a different world with a different cast of characters. The light version is set in a lush realm full of greenery, called Valhalla, while the dark version takes place in a hell-like realm called Dem. Each world has its own unique array of demons, items, and cinema scenes, so the only way to collect all 350-plus demons and experience the complete story is to play through both games.
DemiKids also earns credit for originality for the manner in which you capture and evolve the creatures you collect. Instead of tossing Pokéballs at wild monsters, the demons in your party negotiate with the demons you encounter on the battlefield. The outcome typically depends on the way the two demons stack up in terms of strength and elemental affinity, although there are times when you have to part with money or items in order to seal the deal. The demons in DemiKids also don't evolve in the same fashion as the monsters in Pokémon do. In order to create a stronger demon, you literally have to fuse two weaker demons together. That means you lose both of the original monsters in the process.