It's been a while since I posted about kanji games, and I've bought a couple more in prep for next month's kanji kentei and my quickly approaching return to my native Canadia... Keep in mind that I'm only at about 8級 right now, so if you're an advanced kanji student, my suggestions might not be as on-the-ball. Anyways, here's more thoughts on the kanji games I've got:
1) Kakitori-kun (DS陰山メソッド 電脳反復 正しい漢字かきとりくん)
: Elementary school students
: Up to Kanji Kentei level 5 (the first 1006 kanji)
: fairly polished
: decently entertaining, low-level
: a great game for people to learn how to write properly
The game's title is a fun play on words, since "kakitori" can mean "a dictation" , but can also be broken down into "square" and "bird", hence the square little guy on the front. The game is aimed at elementary school students, so it only has the first 1006 kanji out of the Joyou Kanji set. That being said, there are loads of examples of each kanji, and the game is set up in a way that encourages you to systematically work through the kanji day by day.
Some reviewers have said that the game has poor kanji recognition skills, which belies their lack of understanding of the game's fundamental goal: to get kids to write kanji with the correct stroke order EVERY TIME. If you write a kanji and it looks correct, but you wrote it with the wrong stroke order, the game will not count it as correct. IMHO, this is a good thing, especially for us foreigners who have notoriously bad handwriting due largely to the fact that we don't write things with correct stroke order.
2) 200万 Kanji Kentei (財団法人日本漢字能力検定協会公式ソフト 200万人の漢検 とことん漢字脳)
: all ages / kentei-based
: kentei 10 through 1
: a little impersonal... feels like a "learning" game
: a few minigames
: okay as a secondary kanji training game, but this shouldn't be your first pick
This is the first kanji-related game that I bought. It was cool for about two weeks, but then a friend showed me the Kanji Kentei game and I realized that it was much much better. This game looks and feels like a textbook, which is great when you want to buckle down and study. But, it lacks the polish and clean interface that the Kanji Kentei game has.
I still use this game, but it will be after I've finished reviewing kanji in the Kanji Kentei game. Great for review and as a second / third kanji game in your collection, but definetly not good enough to recommend as a must-buy title.
3) Kanji Kentei (財団法人 日本漢字能力検定協会 公認 漢検DS)
: all ages / kanji kentei based
: kentei 10 through 2
: very very very polished
: loads of games, but aimed at a high-level
: the best general kanji game out there
This game is aimed at people taking the Kanji Kentei exams, which generally tend to follow the curriculum of kanji taught in schools. I found this game to be much much more polished and professional than the 200万 game (#2, above), and it has been a great help in my practice for the kanji kentei. It has practice drill sections that match the exact order of the test, which is great.
The game lets you write the kanji with any stroke order, which is good and bad, and it also manages to read even the most chicken-scratchy characters, for the most part. The interface is gorgeous, and everything feels very natural. It's easy to work your way around in the game's interface, and there is plenty of feedback about your progress in the user stats area.
Of all of my kanji games, this is the one that I would recommend for people looking for a good, solid kanji game that covers a large portion of the kentei levels. A steal of a deal, if you can find it. The only downside is that the plethora of mini games don't take your current user level into account (ie they're mostly aimed at people with a handful of kanji under their belt). That being said, for advanced users, the mini games will provide a nice break from the stress of all those kanji running around in your head. *grin*
4) Kanji Practice for Adults (なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習)
: I assume it includes all Joyou Kanji (not kentei-based)
: Cutesy, but effective and fun.
: Lots, with themes. I've already learned all sorts of food kanji!
: A good game, but not aimed at lower-level students.
When you start this game for the first time, you must put in some details about yourself. Based on the age that you supply, the game guesses your kanji level as if you were a native speaker. Therefore, if you put in your correct age, you're gonna get your @$$ whupped. Be realistic, and put in something less than 10 years old, if you're just starting out.
Even if you put in the wrong age, you can always change it later. Or, you can just leave it as is and suck it up. This game is great for vocabulary building, as it gives you plenty of feedback about correct answers and correct stroke order. The mini games are very cool, with a bunch of different themed games. I've learned the kanji for a whole lot of food items by working through the food-themed mini games, which makes reading Japanese recipe books so so much easier. There are also games based on writing the kanji for the prefectures, but it doesn't actually tell you how to pronounce the prefecture name, since presumably most Japanese adults know the names of the prefectures based on shape. *shrug*
A good game, for sure, but likely better for people with loads of spare time, or at a higher level. Kinda like a fun and interactive kanji dictionary.
5) Kanji Power Seminar (みんなのDSゼミナール カンペキ漢字力)
: teens and up (?)
: includes all 1945 kanji (not kentei-based)
: fun, very game-like, story-driven
: quite a few
: this game should be saved for advanced kanji students (say, Japanese junior-high level or higher)
This was one of the first few games that I bought, and while it is loads of fun, with quite a few different ways of studying, it is still way above my head. I can't seem to make the game go easy on me, which means that I really don't have much to say about this game, other than it's not very easy.
Then again, most of the reviewers on Amazon.co.jp give it 3 stars or less, so maybe it's just a crappy game. *shrug*
6) The Kanji Quiz for Anywhere (SIMPLE DSシリーズVol.10 THEどこでも漢字クイズ)
: all ages
: not kentei-based
: decently polished, fun
: loads and loads
: a good, fun game for Japanese Junior High student-level folks
This game is cool for all the mini games, but the rest of the game still largely eludes me. I'm looking forward to the day that I can properly play this game, rather than just stumble around in it.
The mini games are so much fun that I can only assume that the rest of the game proper is just as well done. But, at this point I'm not really able to say much about this one, sadly.
Hopefully these reviews help people find some decent kanji games. If you have any further thoughts about other games or any questions about these or whatnot, I'd love to hear them, as I'm appaerntly more than willing to waste tons of money on kanji games that I won't be able to fully enjoy until "sometime in the future".
For amazon.co.jp's current list of kanji-related games, just click here