Apr 25, 2017 Last Updated 11:13 AM, Apr 24, 2017

Learn Japanese To Survive! Katakana War Review

Published in Adventure
Read 683 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Using a virtual platform in which to learn a language has become popular recently, but the games often times seem forced. Usually, either the educational aspects overwhelm the fun or vice versa, but in the case of Learn Japanese to Survive: Katakana Battle, the developers at Sleepy Duck have found a happy medium between learning and playing.

The player first meets a crew of first­time Japanese learners from all different countries and a Japanese teacher of whom you can choose to be in your party. As per usual with party­based RPGs, each character has a distinct character class. One of the most apparent differences between this game and other education­based RPGs is the commitment to the actual gameplay. Many of the conversations that you hear and are acted out by voice actors, rather than the random sound bite here or there. The voice talent is surprisingly well done and uses correct colloquialisms and pronunciations in English and Japanese. Your team of foreigners come across some strange monsters in the form of Katakana symbols who are terrorizing the city of Osaka. Using your newfound knowledge of Katakana, you are to vanquish the monsters by calling out the correct syllable that matches the symbol.

This is where many educational games stop.

The player goes through the lesson, the player plays a game where they must use what they learned in the lesson to complete a challenge, and then rinse and repeat. Katakana Battle, on the other hand, also creates a fully­fledged turn­based RPG. It has a relatively complex storyline, character­building mechanisms, and a myriad of equipment and items that all have to do with Japanese culture or that teach the player Japanese terms. There are even a couple of vendors who don’t speak English, and though you can buy from them at any time in the game, you won’t know what you’re buying until you learn to translate it from your studies or already speak the language.

Each character that you choose for your party gains affection for your main character the more you fight with them. If their affection level is high enough, it unlocks a cutscene where you learn a little more about that character, and the camaraderie that they feel towards your character gives them boosts in battle. Each character is also given magical attacks and buff spells for the party. Though the player cannot defeat a Katakana monster on magic alone, it does well to weaken the monster before naming it, which is always coupled with a physical attack. To implement the physical attacks, you can choose from a huge amount of weapons, including different assortments of swords, bows, melee weapons, staves, and even electric guitars.

The actual battle mechanic is like any other turn­based system, except instead of “Attack” at the top of the menu, the choice is “Answer.” When the player clicks the “Answer” option, it allows the player to choose from a chart of syllables that the player has already learned from the previous studies. You then pick the corresponding syllable that matches the Katakana monster’s symbol, and deliver a physical attack. If the player chooses the wrong syllable, it does zero damage to the monster. Each location that must be cleared has a different level of monster, depending on what the player has learned in the lessons. If the player approaches a monster whose symbol hasn’t been taught yet, it knocks the character back, denying the player entry into that particular location until the player learns that set of symbols.

There are optional side quests that the player can choose to accept from people around town. As a show of gratitude for completing the quests, the townsperson will give a short lesson in common Japanese words and phrases. Words and phrases are also learned in the formal lessons as well, the further the player gets into the game.

9

The Verdict

As a fluent speaker of 3 languages, one of which required learning a new alphabet, this is one of the best virtual introductions to a new language I have ever seen. Not only does it give the player a well­rounded a easily­consumable introduction into learning to read and write Katakana, but it also allows the player to immerse in the culture and understand colloquialisms. Even without the educational part, the gameplay itself could stand alone as an enjoyable turn­based RPG. The game could use a little more discovery and exploration, and some sort of writing and speaking mechanism, a la Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, would make the learning of the language a bit more well­rounded. Coupled with the previous game, which taught the player the Japanese Hirangana alphabet, one could be well on their way to learning the Japanese language while immersing themselves in a genuinely fun game.

Allison Holmes

Allison has been playing video games since she was little and used to sneak onto her parent’s PC and play on their Diablo account. Since then, she’s gone through nearly every incarnation of Nintendo and PlayStation consoles, and especially loves puzzle, adventure, and horror games. Recently, she’s gained an appreciation for indie games and other challenges to the form.

Related items

  • Antihero Preview

    Antihero is fairly well balanced and the mechanics are solid, but there just isn’t enough of it yet to make it stand out. It definitely has potential to entertain with its funny-yet-dark art and play styles, but so far it lacks any sort of story or variety. While I have high hopes for this title, we will just have to wait and see if it lives up to its potential.

  • Edengrad Early Access Review

    Ultimately, server issues and stability have hampered Edengrad’s initial release. Were Edengrad a standalone offline game, it would be an ‘OK’ game. The problem is that Edengrad isn’t, though, and as an online game, server performance is mandatory — arguably the most important feature, even. The crashes, the lost characters, the performance dips, and more make this game unplayable.

  • A Rose in The Twilight Review

    A Rose in The Twilight is a visually stunning yet straightforward puzzle-platformer with a macabre atmosphere and an adorable main character. The storyline and the dialogue tend to fall short, but with unique game mechanics and beautiful design, lovers of the genre can enjoy the delightful characters while testing their mettle on the challenging puzzles of this title.

More in this category: The Frostrune Review »

Latest Shows

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book - AAA Anonymous Epi. 10

Atelier Sophie: …

With AAA Anonymous, we discuss our latest AAA game addiction, until the next one replaces it. This episode covers Koei Tecmo's PC release of their JRPG, Atelier Sophie: The Alchemi...

CAYNE Interview

CAYNE Interview

In this grim return to the STASIS universe, expectant protagonist, Hadley, wakes up in a facility. Where is she? Why is she there? And, why do they want her baby?

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

Little Nightmares

Little Nightmare…

Immerse yourself in Little Nightmares, a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childh...

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3

Sniper: Ghost Wa…

Go behind enemy lines with the ultimate modern military shooter. Play as an American sniper dropped ...

Prey

Prey

In Prey, you awaken aboard Talos I, a space station orbiting the moon in the year 2032. You are the ...

Lil Tanks Review

Lil Tanks Review

Lil Tanks is a solid title, providing four distinct game modes, twenty unique types of enemies, four tank variants, and multiple power-ups and weapon upgrades. The gameplay is unco...

Manipulated Review

Manipulated Revi…

Manipulated creates a unique experience with a simple structure by implementing multiple different types of puzzles and challenges throughout the various levels. The art style is c...

Saucer-Like Review

Saucer-Like Revi…

Saucer-Like is a short-form art piece in its genre. Beautiful art is the main focus in the narrative, with over forty hand-drawn backgrounds, each featuring rich contrasts. Saucer-...

Planet Nomads Early Access

Planet Nomads Ea…

Given that Planet Nomads is in alpha, some of the issues get a pass, but there are other, more serious optimization problems with this title, and the building mechanic is borderlin...

Blitzkrieg 3 Early Access Review

Blitzkrieg 3 Ear…

There are very few negative aspects to Blitzkrieg 3, which brings unexpected, fresh ideas to one of hardcore gaming’s most recently underserved areas. Blitzkrieg 3 isan exemplary r...