Slime Forest Adventure is beating me up


I don't care what anyone says, Katakana is hard

After a few years of barely looking at Japanese, it should come as no surprise that my language skills have atrophied. I can still read hiragana, but katakana is a bit touch and go, and Kanji? Phhht, forget it. I think I remember the Kanji for "Japan," "book" and "student." Needless to say, now that I'm spending more time with anime and manga, refreshing and expanding my meager Japanese comprehension is a good idea.

Now, I could review in several ways. I could whip out my old textbooks, which is the smart (i.e. boring) way. I could start using my flashcards, which I probably will, except I don't have flashcards for Katakana because I never thought I would be stupid enough to forget Katakana. Or I could play Slime Forest Adventure, a Japanese-learning RPG where slime monsters beat me up if I can't remember my characters. It was pretty ugly there at the beginning, since the slimes seemed to somehow know exactly which characters I've always had mental blocks about and threw those at me first, but now my little spiky-haired farmer dude is leveling up and I can read Katakana again...well, mostly. Don't get me started on the whole "'so' looks like 'n'!" debacle.

If you're unfamiliar with Project LRNJ (or Project LeaRN Japanese), this game has been around for a while; I think I first remember playing it in 2006 or so. Over the years, creator Darrell Johnson has been adding more and more content, to the point where you can learn pretty much any amount of Kanji you want via the program. The free version is a demo, but for $5 you can get a version that covers all grade-school kanji, and the $10 version covers all of the Common Use Kanji. Granted, I don't think playing this game will be enough if you truly want to become fluent in Japanese, but for someone like me who just wants to review the syllabaries and a few hundred Kanji, it's really quite useful.

However, while SFA is a fully-functional RPG, don't go into this looking for great gameplay; all you do in battle is type in proper pronunciations, Typing of The Dead-style, and the graphics are below the level of what you can do with with RPG Maker these days. However, the whole thing has a great sense of humor about it, and it does what it sets out to do. Right now I'm playing the free version, but I think I'm going to give in and pony up $5 for the Grade School Kanji edition; it's worth it.

So, what do you guys think? Would you like updates as to my Slime Forest Adventure progress down the road? I would say that I could make the worlds' most stultifyingly boring Let's Play, but frankly, I'm not even sure that would be true; there's some pretty bad Let's Plays out there.

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures



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