Once Upon a Tanbo

DS Kanji Game Review

Posted on: January 18, 2008

漢字ソフト批評タイム! Part 1

Kanji Game Review


So as I maybe have meantioned before I love Kanji. Really, I do. I’m not

sure why but learning them has been really rewarding for me. And

espicially since I bought my new DS Lite my Kanji game fever has reached

 a frightening and.. expensive peak.


So figuring that perhaps some of those who read my blog might be

interested, or perhaps share the same desire, I’ve decided to write a

review of some of the games I have played. I’ve actually never really

reviewed anything before but I’ll try to be as informative as possible

since I hate reading a review and then having a totally different



There are different types of games within the Kanji Game genre.. which I 

would classify as learning, test taking, and kanji oriented action game.

To me, the learning games have been the most helpful to so

far so today I will review 2 of the ones that I have in my collection.



So lets begin..

Let me introduce the kanji enthusiasts new best friend, my favorite game

thus far.


Nazotte Oboeru Otona no Kanji Renshuu (Learn by Copying – Adults Kanji




I picked up this game in the winter of 2006 when I was just

thinking about taking level 2 of the Japanese proficency test (I ended

up taking level 1). I hadn’t heard much about it, but the box had some

nice clear pictures of drawing a big kanji on the back and seemed to

have something about stroke order. Not really having the best stroke

order I bought this game without knowing too much about it and I am so

glad I did!


It covers all 1945 of the daily use kanji. You can select daily training

and it will give you a set of 5 kanji to pratice the reading and

writting. After you complete 4 sets of kanji (20 characters) you will

unlock a practice test in the test section.  Each level has about 8 – 12

practice tests with 20 questions and then a final test of about 50

questions. If you pass the fianl test you unlock the next level of

questions to begin training. There are 9 levels

with 1-6 corresponding to that year of elementary school kanji and then

7 8 and 9 being junior high school and high school kanji.


One of my favorite fuctions is the Nigatte (weakness kanji) challenge

which lets you retake the questions that you missed until you can

write/read them correctly. The training section only gives you the kanji

once so if you don’t pay attention you might miss it. Thus, when you

come across and miss in in the test, you can practice it until you get

it right in the nigatte section . There was one character.. I think it

was 旗(hata) flag that I just kept getting wrong over and over again..

and now I think I have pretty much mastered it *crosses fingers* but

anyways I think this game has singularly helped me to remember about

half of the kanji that I know now.


It also has kanji games with different catagories that teach you how to

read and write certain kanji representing food names, science, politics,

anime, etc. I enjoy the section a lot and use it to take a break from

serious studying. Also the food section is helpful as I can now read

some of those obscure kanji they use for fruits/veggies etc.


All in all a truly excellent purchase. Even as I learn new kanji (I’m

about halfway through level 8 now) I still often go back to scrub up on

the earlier levels. I love this software and highly highly reccomend it. 

Its a little more expensive than a text book, but unlike a book you can

do it over and over again and no wasting paper!!


Just a note of caution if you buy the game. When you make your profile

(you can have up to three so hubby, kids etc can also play) for the

game it asks your brithday and bases your kanji level off of this. Thus

even if you know 300, 500, 1000 kanji etc I would recommend inputing

your age as young as possible so that you can start training from the

level 1 level. I put my real age in when I first got it and was started at

the level 7 which was way too hard. I ended up deleting that profile and

making a new one aged 6 years old! If you want to skip to your level,

then I guess put around the age group of that level, say you know about

the first common 1000 kanji, then put your age as 12 or 13 like a

completing elementary school student.


Also –  a second version the “complete” version was

released with an extra 200 kanji and some more games. I’d recommend getting that

version since you will get more for your money. Most of the contents are a

repeat from the first game so its not really worth it to get both if you

have the first one, but I do hate that I’m missing out on the extra 200 characters. It just

recently came out.. so maybe I’ll wait a while and pick it up used if I

see it for a better price.




Ok so on to the next review


This next game I picked up just the week but it is already my number 2

(after the lovely Otona no Kanji Renshuu)


正しい漢字かきとりくん ( Tadashii Kanji Kaki Tori-kun)

http://100mas.jp/kakitorikun/ (1st version for elementary school students

with the elementary school 1006 kanji)

正しい漢字かきとりくん 今度は漢検 

(Tadashii Kanji Kakitori-kun Kondo ha Kanken Training)

http://100mas.jp/kakitori2/index.html (2nd version for adults with the

general knowledge 1945 kanji)


Alright I don’t have the first one.. At this point I’m studying Jr. High

level kanji and I already have the Otona no Renshuu. Plus the second one

covers all of the kanji in the first one and another 900!


Kakitori-kun is a recent game that was developed to teach children (and

adults) the correct way to write kanji. I recently saw the game and after reading

another review decided it would be worth it. I picked it up slightly

discounted for about 3200 yen at an electronics store and have been very much enjoying it.


The game has 3 sections.

The first is the Kakitori practice (aka writting practice)

The game has hiragana, katakana, grades 1 – 6, jr. high first half, jr.

high second half, and high school kanji that you can practice as many

times as you want. The little mascot guy will then judge your kanji on a


1-100 scale as to its beauty and overal following of the stroke order.

If you get more than a 50 you pass. Unlike kanji no renshuu, you can

practice the kanji time and time again and they are all lit up so you

can select which kanji you want to practice. There is no nigatte

function though. So you just have to remember which ones youve been

having trouble with. Also helpful, is that every kanji has its own

defintions and meaning page. This is a allows you to see the kanji

being used in context. The explanations are all written in Japanese but

the difficult kanji all have hiragana on them. It also has a jukugo

(phrase section) which showcases some of the two or three kanji words

that the knaji is found in. For example 行く (いく) would have

something like 行列(ぎょうれつ)and 進行(しんこう) and their meanings ( procession)

and ( progress) explained in Japanese. Helpful for expanding vocab.


Moving on to the drill section

This section helps to train reading, writting, identify the bushu (parts

of the kanji), synonyms, antonyms, and kanji compounds. You can’t

choose the level of difficultly for these games but they are each about

20 questions with about the first 10 being aimed towards elementary

level 1- 5 and then the final 10 hard elementary through hard high

school problems. I let Ryohei try it and he would usually pass the questions

easily until about number 15 and then he would have a little difficuly

but usually be stumped by 19 or 20 (and hes very very good at kanji)


Overall he drills are good, and when you miss a kanji in the drills it

will let you click on it to either see the dictionary reading or how

many points you scored while writting it. Also if you write the kanji

incorrectly stroke orderwise you fail! Not a bad system!


Finally is the Kentei section (testing)

There are 8 or 9 levels cant remember offhand.. and each of them has an

apprx. 40 minute exam to test you knowledge of that kanji set. The test

is pretty good, and after the test you can redo all of the questions

that you missed. It is a long test although I think you usually

will finish before the time. There really isn’t a reward for doing the

test.. it hasnt unlocked features or anything yet, but I think it will

prove as a good way of marking your progress.


My only complaints with the software is that during the training every

10 problems you do it asks you if you want to quit and return to the

main menu, apparently this isnt a function that can be turned off

either. But, you get used to it, and sometimes its good only to do 10

although i admit being asked every 10 hiragana/kanakana was annoying.

Besides that theres no really complaints that I have besides that.

If I was asked to just get one I would probably get the otona no kanji

but I am really liking kakitori-kun for its dictionary functions as well

as being able to practice writting the kanji that want when i want.. so

for me they are both really important! I think it just

depends what you want to get out of the game!


Anyways I hope my review was informative! If anyone wants to know a bit

about the other games I have I will write another review when I have the

time. (I have 1 more learning game and 1 testing game and I have gotten

rid of 1 testing game and 1 kanji action game)

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