GAME: Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War
Genre: RPG, Educational
Steam Achievements: Yes
Steam Cards: Yes
Equipment Necessary: A notebook, a pen, and some good old discipline and dedication
In video-games you often put in hundreds to thousands of hours learning about games to beat that next boss, or reach that rank you want. What if you played a video game that teaches you a real-life applicable skill? Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War teaches you about the Katakana component of the Japanese writing system. You play through a game in which you use the knowledge of this language to defeat opponents. I bought this game and grabbed some index cards and a pen getting ready to add the foundations of a new language to my repertoire.
ARTICLE SERIES: GAMES THAT TEACH ENTRY002 08312018 KATAKANA
What Does This Game Teach You?Japanese has three main components of it's writing system. These are hiragana, katakana and kanji
Hiragana: Is a series of characters that represent syllables. Hiragana is used for Japanese words
Katakana: Is a series of characters that represent syllables. Katakana is used for words from other languages or onomatopoeia's.
Kanji: Is a series of characters that represent whole words. For example a Kanji character can words like water, sun or courage.
There are three games in this series that teaches each of the three subsets of Japanese characters. This game teaches Katakana. Typically Hiragana is best for beginners however you do not need to play the games in order.
Now that, that's out of the way let's get started!
Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War
The premise of the story is that you are a foreigner traveling to Japan without any knowledge of the language. You meet a series of characters that traveled to Japan for their own reasons. Owen is a surfer who came to Japan for a competition, Tia is a volleyball player who joined a Japanese team, and Charlotte is a poet who has come for inspiration. And your character is probably a generic transfer student.
As you explore the town you hear strange sounds. Odd monsters in the form of these odd foreign symbols begin attacking. Luckily a young man comes along and attacks the symbol with a bow and shouts at the same time. The man reveals himself to be Daisuke an English teacher in Japan. If you call the name of a monster as you attack it you can vanquish it. Daisuke starts to teach you and those around you about Katakana. With your new knowledge you can explore areas and take out the monsters. As you take more lessons you are able to access new areas and help the locals.
In your lessons you are taught how to draw the symbol, the name of it, and then the phonetic pronunciation.
Typically you learn 5 characters per lesson with the Dakuten modifier versions of each.
For example in this lesson you learn about the ka series.
Ka, Ki, Ku, Ke Ko
You go through each character and learn what it is called, the pronunciation, and how to write it.
For more effective learning you should be writing notes.
Once you go through these letters you are shown what happens when you are a symbol called a Dakuten.
This is a symbol that modifies the sounds from a Ka to a Ga
After you finish your lesson you complete a section of the story.
You fight monsters using your new knowledge. Each character is a skill that can be used against enemies. The enemies are the Japanese characters and you use your moves to damage the enemies. If you use the wrong move you do 0 damage to the enemy. If you didn't learn the characters well enough you will die and have to start from the last time you saved.
The combat is the same as any turn-base RPG. You pick your move and pick your enemy. You have magic, however magic can only damage enemies, it cannot finish them off. You cannot defeat an enemy without knowing your Katakana. Along with magic there are items that can be used to sustain your party.
Outside of fighting you can increase your personal relationship with all your party members. If you have characters in your party their affection levels increase. As their affection level increases you can hang out with your party members and their stats are increased as their loyalty to you increases. With a large amount of potential party members there are a lot of characters to earn the affection of.
The Game as Learning Tool
After you finish an area you will likely have to go back and grind. Not for levels, but for knowledge. As you learn more and more characters it becomes more difficult to keep them in your memory. As a person with a very poor memory I have to grind constantly to get it in my head. While it is a bit boring it is much more entertaining then typical drilling exercises when learning a new language. When I was learning Spanish and Arabic the process was thousands of times more tedious. A tool like this with other languages makes the grinding part of learning a language MUCH more bearable. If you are looking to play this just as a game it isn't very good. But if you use it as a learning tool it is fantastic.
The game as an actual game is unimpressive. It is a typical RPG-maker game with nothing exceptional about it. However what makes this game worth playing is that the knowledge you accumulate playing the game is usable outside of the game itself.
This game is great as a learning TOOL. I don't have a passion for learning Japanese so I will likely play the rest of the game and then not learn the rest of the language. I do wish that there more games like this in other languages. My Arabic is absolutely horrible, and a tool like this would be great to learn. When learning becomes less of an effort the person is more likely to do it.
However even with this game you still have to study all the characters on your own. Grinding monsters for hours is not efficient. I ended up making index cards and memorizing the characters in a quarter of the time. An additional tool for learning included in the game would make it much better. If you are serious about learning Japanese you will still need to grab some books and study for hours on end. But this game is great for drilling it into your head.