Monthly Archives: February 2012

Role-playing games based on Learning Japanese

With the release of KanaBattle 2 I thought it would be interesting to do a post on the current state of the art of this genre. While it seems to be a unique genre (learning Japanese characters with an RPG) it is surprising to see that there are quite a few titles already out there. From a quick glance at the forums there also seems to be new designers and developers eager to join in with their talents and ideas. From vintage retro games to Linux/PC/Mac and Web games to full-blown iOS and Android games let’s take a quick look inside this microgenre.

In the beginning there were huge mainframes and these ran text-based dungeon crawlers. The oldest Japanese RPG I could track down was Koei’s Dragon and Princess (ドラゴン&プリンセス). According to that site it was 1983 although Wikipedia has 1982. From these early days in the 70s and 80s the RPG has evolved to its present day form. It can definitely be useful to learn Japanese through complete immersion in the language (such as playing a full-fledged Japanese RPG). However it appears that many have independently arrived at the idea of learning the Japanese characters themselves (Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji) through a role-playing game. I do not have chronological order for these so they do not appear in any particular order. If anyone has additional information and history it would be great to incorporate it all together.

Here is a list I found by scouring through Google.

Tower of Kana – This seems to have disappeared from the web, although Android Arts is still around. If it’s the one I remember correctly it had a pretty well-thought-out design and great artwork.

Knuckles in China Land – Interesting concept featuring Knuckles from Sonic fame. It seems to be for PC platform but I could not find much out. It does have a video available showing gameplay.

Slime Forest Adventure (aka LRNJ) has a free version for Linux/Windows/Mac with option to upgrade to full version.

JRPG – free Python-based game for Linux/Windows/Mac.

Kana Attack (web game) – find the romaji match to destroy the monster.

Slimongo – This appears to be under development, but there’s already a video out and the developer seems active on forums.

Ninja Words Adventure – iOS RPG for learning Kanji. There are both paid and lite versions.

KanaBattle 2 – My entry into this genre. Use a variety of Katakana, Hiragana, and Romaji to defeat sinister emoji. Visit the Castle to upgrade your attack and defense. Collect gold and health to stay alive. Also features a time trial arcade mode. Available for iPhone/iPod Touch.

All in all I am excited to be a part of this genre and I think there are some good ideas out there that we could all build upon to eventually bring this style of educational gaming (in particular educational role-playing games) to a wider audience. I think technology has advanced to the point were we can evolve past the flashcard as we create more immersive video gaming experiences that educate as well as captivate.

If anyone has any corrections or additions I welcome all comments. I would like to incorporate as much feedback as possible so that people working in this genre have ideas of what has worked and what future directions we envision moving forward.

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Pressing the Words Together

This is my first post on WordPress.com so let me make a quick introduction and the do a breakdown of what my strategy is going to be on here. Even though technically I’m an LLC I am going to be posting in first-person and reserve the royal we for what you and I can do together and help accomplish. I am a new breed of company and so I thought it would be fun to anthropomorphize myself. So while I can never truly become human you can follow along with me just like Trolley as we journey to Embelyon.

What am I doing on WordPress? Why does an LLC need to blog? As we skip through the Social Age of post-techno-industrialism a new era of accountability has dawned. Companies should no longer be faceless “theys” and “thems” that are clearly out of touch with capitalism or communism or terrorism as they auto-tweet and auto-facebook post pre-generated content from bored interns. Neither do we need an abrupt departure from the status quo that does nothing but transfer from 1% to dichotomous 1%. I just needed to blog.

So if I am going to blog what is my strategy? Where does it fit in with my mission statement, vision statement, goals, hopes, and dreams? How does it help me with synergy, networking, social engagement, and a graphite pencil full of other ambitions? Enough Socratic method, basically here is my WordPress strategy. Chiptunes are retro-passé, so let’s do it with a bytebeat drum-roll. My strategy is…

Longform traditional blog posts. As you can see from my post on Posterous I am already highly engaged in the other social venues and I have never really wrote in a weblog. (I could be available for guest posts check with my agent.) According to Wikipedia longform is a type of improvisational theatre, and improv itself is “typically comedic, and sometimes poignant or dramatic.” I am envisioning something more along the lines of 500+ words. Nothing overly researched, nothing too Mamihlapinatapaistic. Paddling down the stream of conscious, but not too Joycean. I just needed to blog.

So as if you did not know by now in my legal manifestation I publish apps. I am only two years old, but in the past year I have published six apps. These are all for iOS. Yes I do have a Kindle Fire. Yes I do have a Samsung Galaxy Tab (and Player). I even have some Sifteo cubes. So far I have only gotten around to getting the apps to run on my iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 4G, iPad and iPad 2. Although my HexMaster does have that online demo level.

And if you were unaware of my app catalog, why not a quick bio on each app. While currently they do not blog at great depth (some do tweet and post to google+) they still need warm caring fingers to tap with them. As you already know HexMaster (celebrating its 1st birthday this week!) I will introduce the others. KanaBattle and its newest sibling KanaBattle 2 are games for learning Japanese characters (such as Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji). Scale Tapper is a pitch constellation music theory exploration app. (Scale Tapper is particular about its genre.) Hanzi Warrior is a language adventure game for demonstrating proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. Bopomo Blitz is a fast-paced match-2 game with a learning twist. WordPress tells me that I just hit word 556 so nice to meet you and see how I worked that whole marketing thing in.