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Non-Region Coded Devices: Nintendo DS + PS3


This article is written for the gamers at heart. Believe it or not, I’m a gamer. Yeah, we females are becoming power house gamers too these days. You’ll find it probably interesting to know that women play more console games than males! Booyah! We even got a website you men aren’t allowed on! (well i guess you can go there lol, but do you really wanna?).

Anyhow, If you’ve not heard, or aren’t much of a console gamer, you’ll be happy to know that the Nintendo DS (and its varieties) as well as the PS3 are not region coded. So what’s region coded mean?

Region codes are simply formats of games and systems. For instance, if you’re in America and you buy an xbox from an American shop like EB Games, you’re buying it with a NTCS region code. It means that it will play any games that are coded NTCS. It usually means English only (with maybe some Spanish or French). Even the PS2 was Region coded. If you wanted to play a game from Europe you would have to buy both the PAL coded PS2 and PAL coded games. And for Japanese, JAP system and JAP formated games.

All in all, it made some gamers who could speak multiple languages unhappy, as well as, a lot of times games weren’t released here in America that were released elsewhere. If you looked at a listing of NDS games, you’d find a lot in Japanese that does not have an English counterpart.

So, summing up, NDS and PS3’s bought in America can play games bought almost anywhere. You don’t have to special order the system. If you already own them, you’ll notice that you can also set their user interface in Japanese. It’s another way I plug myself into immersion. By now you might be asking yourself what kind of games are out there, and what not.

Since the NDS is seen as a learning tool for many countries and gamers, there are a large number of “games” devoted to it. There are games that are made for Japanese people by Japanese people to help you learn/use/practice your Kanji, Kana, grammar, and such. Here is a listing of a lot of games you may consider along your way for getting in that good old studying:

Anpanman AIUEO Kyoushitsu: This game is kid orientated, teaching you hiragana. It also has mic recordings to test your sounds, games, and such. It touches on some katakana as well. It’s a cute fun game that you might find rewarding if you’re starting out. Getting set up only takes a bit of playing around, but it’s very straight forward even if you don’t speak Japanese.

Maru Kaite DonDon Oboeru: Kyoui no Tsugawa Shiki Kanji Kioku Jutsu: This game is a lesser known Kanji learning game.

Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten: Not really a game, but it is a great dictionary with example sentences and such. This was written for Japanese learning English, so not everything is in mind for the Japanese learner. I give it a thumbs up tho!

Kageyama Method – Dennou Hanpuku: Tadashii Kanji Kakitori kun: This particular game to me is a gem. It’s a lot of fun. There are multiple sections. It will help you write better as it grades your kana/kanji. It covers all the kana and quite a lot of kanji as well. (I believe it’s all the standard kanji through HS) There is also another section that tests your ability to come up with kanji based on context, another that tests your ability to say the kanji’s pronunciation through context, as well as one that uses the kana for you to come up with the Kanji. It also has levels you can choose. You can say you’re a 1st grader and you will only be tested on a handful of kanji, for instance I personally love this game, and my handwriting has improved a lot.

Zaidanhoujin Nippon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei Kounin: KanKen Ds: I hear this game contains over 25,000 problems using past Japanese Kanji tests (kaken) as well as contain a wealth of mini games for fun. Many claim however that this game is more advanced, so beginners might want to pass on this for now.

250万人の漢検 (250まんにんのかんけん): This is another kaken preparation test that goes from levels of you knowing no kanji to knowing lots! With over 47,000 problems to tackle that grades you based on time and correctness, it is known to be rather addictive. It keeps your stats and has roughly two dictionaries. It is also left handers compatible. There is also a second version of this and I have found conflicting reviews on how people feel concerning it.

DS美文字トレーニング: This game is all about the writing. You even get a niffty brush like stylus with the game. It has over 3,000 characters to practice, including the kana, so you wont run out of things to do for a while. It basically helps you create beautiful kanji, demand proper stroke order, and all the nuances like angles and radical alignment.

なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習 / Nazotte Oboeru Otona no Kanji Renshu: This and its sequel なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習 完全版 are games that seem to combine the love of kaken type and kakitori types but with more emphasis on kanji that is used more often. Roughly 1900 kanji are covered in the first and another 250 or so in the second. This one would better be used by intermediate learners. A great feature about this is it also has lots of example sentences, though the sentences range from simple to complex.

I could go on and on with games focused on these types of play for hours. There is a detailed listing of games over onNaruhondo (look at the ds category) with nice reviews as well.

Long story short, if you’re asking for a list of fun games to play that are Japanese, well, it probably wouldn’t be good to ask me since all our tastes are different, but here is some tips on finding one right for you:

  • If you currently have a game you love that is in English, check to see if it has a Japanese counterpart.
  • Google searches are great for finding all sorts of things, Play Asia has all sorts of lists for searching genre
  • Find a gaming buddy in Japan to recommend titles for you
  • type in “best selling japanese nds/ps3 games” and you’ll find several listings
  • There are tons of English blogs describing Japanese gaming fun

I didn’t cover PS3 titles because there isn’t any learning games as far as I know (which I could be wrong), so it comes down to simply fun games to look for.

Now to discuss a nasty sort of subject:

My Japanese Coach and Why I don’t recommend it

My Japanese Coach is a game designed to “teach Japanese”. As a rough overview it is a series of lessons with mini games, a small dictionary, audio comparison with a woman, and a stroke practice section to it. While this may seem dreamy, I’m going to shoot it down.

Lessons: I personally got my hands of this from a friend just to see if it was as cool as he was boasting. I gag. It gives you a mini test in the beginning. I personally think that unless you’ve lived under a rock, you’ll answer quite a few right. Who doesn’t know what samurai and karaoke is? Even if you score all the questions right, you don’t get very far in the lessons. The lessons themselves are presented with a Japanese woman, and are rather mundane (as i feel anything of this nature is).

As you complete each lesson you must complete several mini games to move on. You get tracked on how many times you’ve answered correctly in the mini games until you master words. More on that later though. When you finish with the lessons you can toggle back to ones already completed for reviews and things of that nature.

Ultimately I don’t like them because they seemed to be rushed and many explanations given were bad and had to many exceptions.

Mini games: I found that the mini games kinda suck, mostly because they’re reinforcing roman characters and not actual Japanese. To me they’re kinda repetitive and they get old really fast. Whack a mole was maybe not so bad though if it weren’t in roman characters.

Dictionary: The dictionary isn’t bad for a super beginner on the go electronic tool, as I have seen some people do this.

Writing and Voice Recording: The writing is a hit and miss, sometimes with wrong stroke orders. :/ A lot of people complain that their brush runs out of ink, or that they cannot complete a character for some unknown reason. As for the voice recording, I feel that it would have been far more beneficial if there were male and female versions. I don’t think Sam wants to sound like a Samantha.

Word Mastering: I found that once a word was “mastered” it didn’t appear anymore in the mini games. This really bit the dust as the words didn’t appear in the mini games hardly anymore. I mean, getting a mastered title for a word didn’t require much effort at all, and certainly wasn’t stuck in my memory at the time.

On top of all this there are a lot of bugs in the game, lots of errors, and the music, boring basic graphics, and interface get old real fast. Supposedly with newer released games they have addressed a lot of the bugs, but I guess that’s going to be a hit or miss if you’re buying now.

If you’re serious about learning Japanese, you’ll want to pass on this for obvious reasons. It is a time stealer. You’re better off doing a number of more brain against concrete like things than playing this game. If you just want to have some fun, or try to get someone interested in Japanese, I think this will be a turn off because it gets complicated fast, and without proper explanations, and completely wrong stroke orders and such all over the place, it might make that person not so interested anymore.

Mikoto Neko

The Ring leader of multiple projects who is studying japanese and raising a family! Who needs time for sleep?

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