Anyone who’s ever played a particularly great JRPG or watched an especially memorable anime has thought, “I wanna learn Japanese!” Some of us, like me, go as far as spending a year trying to learn scripts and cramming kanji — only for it to amount to absolutely nothing and learn how to say nothing. Others go much farther, becoming esteemed translation professionals. If you need help making the leap from failure-like-me to translation hero, perhaps consider Shujinkou from Rice Games, currently seeking $45,000 on Kickstarter.
The game is currently being developed for PC, but there are aims to bring it to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 as well. Shujinkou is an action RPG platformer with Metroidvania elements whose explicit aim is to teach players Japanese, and it intends to do so via some unorthodox means:
- “Wield 5-6 different hiragana, katakana, or kanji per level and use them to strike the weaknesses of the Demons that lie in your way.”
- “Collect all the pieces to these artifacts found in each level to recover adjectives that can be used to alter the level’s environment.”
- “Use verbs as skills to buff your player and debuff enemies. The effect of the skill depends on the semantic meaning of the respective verbs.”
- “Check out sign boards that provide hints about enemies commonly found in each area, as well as tips to find out the locations of hidden secrets.”
- “While battling bosses, answer realtime questions that cover both the Japanese language and ethical questions that will affect the outcome of the plot.”
Basically, Shujinkou is trying really hard to turn grammar into a video game, and being a person with an English degree and a love of grammar, I’m all for it. Will the game actually be any fun to play though? Hard to say at this point. The visual style looks a bit rough in my opinion, but I’m all for innovation, so I wish Rice Games luck.