Kanji Games for the Nintendo DS

There's loads of them, apparently. Anyone have any experience with them?

I recently bought the "Kanken blahblah DS" game made by "Rocket", which is recommended on the Kanken official homepage. It's pretty polished. I had previously bought the "200万 blahblah Kanken" game made by "IE Institute", and I must say the one by "Rocket" seems better. The "IE" one is okay, though.

Both of the above games are easy to use, and are perfect for beginners. I'm looking to take the Kanji Kentei for the first time in June, and I want all the practice I can get!

I know there's a DS dictionary, but I don't really need one of those. Just regular old kanji practice games. If you have any suggestions, maybe let me know how many kanji you figure a person needs to know before the game is useful...
I bought a Nintendo DS just so I could use of the DS dictionaries (漢字そのままDS楽引辞典); I've looked at some of the others available but am not convinced that they'd be useful to me at this point (1150 in RTK1) since the ones I've seen depend on you knowing both the meanings and the readings. Once I'm finished with RTK1 I'll consider them.

FYI, アメリカ人 can get some DS kanji games relatively painlessly through
I just got a Nintendo DS this past winter vacation myself and with it bought several Kanji learning programs(games? I don't quite know how you would classify them). I didn't know a lot about it and had the idea (a wrong idea at that) it was just for playing games on. After a friend showed me a couple kanji and other nihongo study programs I was fairly impressed. The price was not too high either when compared with buying a electronic dictionary. Often running between 20,000 to 40,000 yen. The DS cost about 16,000 yen and about 3,000 yen for a program. Since I was heading back home in a few days and wouldn't likely have the opportunity to buy one again soon I thought I would go ahead and splurge and give the DS a try.
I bought a DS and a few games to go with it. I first picked up the Kanken 漢検 DS program (being that I had so much trouble with the kanken tests I thought this might make next time a bit easier), kanji sonomama rakuhiki Dic. 漢字そのまま楽引き辞典, the DS Web Browser, and a program called nazotte oboeru otona no kanji rensyuu なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習。

I was impressed with all off these programs and the DS for the most part and I would highly recommend anyone interested in further study of kanji to give the DS a shot.
The one program that I really like though is the なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習. I really have enjoyed using this program and think it is a great tool for further kanji study. Basically all of the Kanji from RTK 1 are included and you can move systematically from the bottom to the top in order of difficulty level for the native Japanese kanji learner (Level decided by your age, for which you will be prompted to enter at the start of your session). There are numrous exercises, practice, tests, and useful little games that you will have access to. One of the neat games that I liked was the 日本一周in which you are challenged to write the names of each of the prefectures in Japan starting from south to north and are given only three chances to make a mistake. Within a couple of days I was able to remember the location and write the names of each prefecture (an ability that I had sorely lacked up until now). In the main section of the program you are given the opportunity to trace over kanji to practice stroke order and writing which is also a huge benefit. In short a very remarkable and worthwhile (and mobile) kanji study program.

I won't go into as much detail on the other games do to the fact that I have been spending most of my time with the なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習 and have not found the others to be and interesting in my opinion. The 漢検 DS program shows some promise but I am a little disappointed with the Dic. A full featured electronic dic. would likely be much better ( more expensive too though). The browser is alright but I have yet to be able to use the Reviewing the Kanji site with it so I haven't experimented with it much either. Seems slower than my PC but, that is to be expected. It is much more portable and I would love to be able to use this site with it in the future. I believe there is someone working on getting the Opera Browser that the DS uses to work with this site ,however, it looks like I won't be "Reviewing the Kanji" on the go for the time being at least.

In short, I would highly recommend the DS and its Kanji and Japanese learning programs. I hope that this info might be of help to anyone who is thinking about buying a DS for further kanji study.
Best of luck.
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I recently took the 漢字検定8級, and the 200万人 game for the DS helped me out a great deal for that, although, it definitely doesn't cover every 漢字 that you need for the level, so it's probably best used as a reviewing tool and in conjunction with the 200万人 漢検学習ステップ books.

I really like the sound of that なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習, I'll have to take a look at it.
Edited: 2007-02-16, 1:51 am
elyyale Wrote:, and a program called nazotte oboeru otona no kanji rensyuu なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習。
Cool another I hadn't heard of, here's the link:

amthomas Wrote:I recently bought the "Kanken blahblah DS" game made by "Rocket", which is recommended on the Kanken official homepage. It's pretty polished.
I've got the same one. In fact it's the only software I have! As far as learning is concerned, I don't get that much out of it. But it is great as a level checker. I'm aiming for level 7 but not quite ready yet!
Whoahh... Now that makes me want a DS so bad...
looks fun!
I originally bought my DS last June for the dictionary software (same as Qbe). I bought the kanji study programs (the 漢検DS by Rocket) last Sept and played with it, getting past 10q only. I haven't picked it back up since then. I still use the dictionary almost daily, it's amazing with example sentences and all.

That なぞって one sounds spiffy. I will wait until sometime after I've finished RTK to pick it up, but it'll be next.

Now, maybe I should actually buy a game for my DS... heh.
Quote:One of the neat games that I liked was the 日本一周in which you are challenged to write the names of each of the prefectures in Japan starting from south to north and are given only three chances to make a mistake.
Finally got myself a DS a few days ago and I've enjoyed that game mode as well.
However, it seems like you can't get the readings for the prefecture names?

I wish those games would smooth out the strokes on the lower screen though, so that what you write would look nicer. Actually... I think I saw a "calligraphy" drawing cartridge in a shop in Japan back in April, ack... I wish I had written down the title.

*EDIT* oooOOh O_O found it!
Kokoro ni Shimiru Mouhitsu de Kaku Aida Mitsuo DS calligraphy and painting game!

I don't think these were mentionned yet :

The Doko Demo Kanji Quiz (Simple DS Series Vol. 10)

"Me de Unou wo Kitaeru - DS Sokudoku Jutsu" looks like a speed-reading training game ?

Gakken DS Otona no Gakushuu Kintaichi Sensei no Nihongo Lesson
Hmm... just found out there was an earlier version of the dictionary software 漢字そのまま楽引き辞典, it's called DS楽引辞典.

This one seems to be only Japanese, but maybe it includes the place names, which the そのまま one doesn't.

Also it looks like it has spoken samples for the words, in Japanese. Maybe you need wireless to download them? Can someone read that, I'm not good enough yet :
More links:

12 Most instructive DS Japanese softwares

Best Japanese Nintendo DS Games
Great list with covers of all the games and links to the games websites, see "Best Nintendo DS Japanese Language, Kanji" section.
ファブリス Wrote:Hmm... just found out there was an earlier version of the dictionary software 漢字そのまま楽引き辞典, it's called DS楽引辞典.

Also it looks like it has spoken samples for the words, in Japanese. Maybe you need wireless to download them? Can someone read that, I'm not good enough yet :
They seem to be saying that there is a section for hard to read Kanji included. Words that you (a native japanese speaker) might know just by glancing at them but might not be able to say the reading or convey the exact dictionary style meaning.
The article also says that you can also share these words in a quiz style format with your friends over the wireless network.
Sorry, I doin`t see anything talking about there being any audio examples in there though. Would be a nice feature though since a lot of the English Japanese Dic have a similar function for english vocab. I suppose pronouncing words in Japanese is generally an easier task than in english though. Compared to english the pronouncination are usually pretty straight forward.
Anyway, there still seem to be a lot of good programs for studying Japanese on the DS. I am sure there are others that have come out since that last time I looked as well.
A downloadable or offline version of this site on the DS would be great too actually, since the DS is so very portable!!Wink I am sure that doing so would be difficult so I will keep using it on my PC.
P.S. I am looking forward to some more developements on the RTK 2 parts of the web site! I find reviewing with the web site much easier for me than on paper. It keeps better track of my review sessions an make my time reviewing much more productive.
elyyale, thanks so much for explaining that! I just saw the 声 kanji and inferred there was spoken words somewhere, but I understand now it talks about kanji that one can not read aloud.

Regarding the site on the DS, I will at least try and check the site in the DS browser. But I haven't had any experience with the wifi on the DS yet. My router here doesn't have wifi, so I'll try somewhere in town. I've read the browser is quite slow, so I don't know if it would be worthwhile to have a "mini-screen" version of the site.
Works in the DS browser if you use Ricardo's proxy. Seems that the browser lacks a lot of common Javascript functionability (like showing/hiding items) and the proxy works around that.
Recent DS releases in Japan:

May 17 : 美しい日本語の書き方 話し方DS (Utsukushii Nihongo no Kakikata Hanashikata DS)

May 31 : Enpitsu de Oku no Hosomichi

Oh my! It's got Japanese readings! It's classical Japanese literature though, I'm not sure how practical the grammar and vocab will be assuming one would plug the sentences into a flashcard review system.

May 31 : 旺文社 でる順 国語DS (Obunsha Deru-jun Kokugo DS)

June 28 : Ukkari o Nakusou! Bunshou Yomi Training

Also a list of education software from IE Institute for the DS.
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)

Aimed at: Elementary school students
Kanji levels: Up to Kanji Kentei level 5 (the first 1006 kanji)
Interface: fairly polished
Mini games: decently entertaining, low-level
Overall: 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)

Aimed at: all ages / kentei-based
Kanji levels: kentei 10 through 1
Interface: a little impersonal... feels like a "learning" game
Mini games: a few minigames
Overall: 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)

Aimed at: all ages / kanji kentei based
Kanji levels: kentei 10 through 2
Interface: very very very polished
Mini games: loads of games, but aimed at a high-level
Overall: 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)

Aimed at: adults
Kanji levels: I assume it includes all Joyou Kanji (not kentei-based)
Interface: Cutesy, but effective and fun.
Mini games: Lots, with themes. I've already learned all sorts of food kanji!
Overall: 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)

Aimed at: teens and up (?)
Kanji levels: includes all 1945 kanji (not kentei-based)
Interface: fun, very game-like, story-driven
Mini games: quite a few
Overall: 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 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)

Aimed at: all ages
Kanji levels: not kentei-based
Interface: decently polished, fun
Mini games: loads and loads
Overall: 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's current list of kanji-related games, just click here.

- ang
Edited: 2007-05-31, 12:22 am
Hi amthomas, did you find how to get the red "correction" strokes in this game (Kagayama's Kanji Kakitori-Kun) ? When I get a character wrong all I can do is use the blue buttons for the stroke order animation, but I can't see the ones where it draws red strokes over your character.
Don't work for me too (there is sometimes a button with a '1' inside that appears, but it seems to do nothing when i press it). In the same game, how do you skip the step where you can choose to see the explanation or continue, right after you select a kanji to draw? Is it possible?

For me, as a total beginner, all the other game are far too difficult, because i don't know yet how to read the kanji even if i know them, but it is good to know that they exist.
Edited: 2007-05-30, 3:15 am
ファブリス Wrote:the red "correction" strokes in this game (Kagayama's Kanji Kakitori-Kun) ?
Uhh... what? Wait... are you one of those "read the manual" types? *grin* I actually had no idea that the game was supposed to do that. I've found that if you write the character really crappily, the game will give you some pointers on how to write the kanji better (if you're in the writing drill mode, that is).

Which mode are you useing when you try to get the red strokes bit to work?

Also, has anyone tried the Watadori Island kanji game (the one with the cowboy and geisha on the front) ? It looks neat, but I think it's way over my head...
amthomas Wrote:Also, has anyone tried the Watadori Island kanji game (the one with the cowboy and geisha on the front) ? It looks neat, but I think it's way over my head...
Someone covered that awhile back, but I can't find the link. The whole game was basically said cowboy defeating ninjas who carry kanji, which would be defeated by writing the readings of those kanji, or something to that extent.
amthomas Wrote:Which mode are you useing when you try to get the red strokes bit to work?
Just read the instructions in the game. You can hardly miss them, for everything single damned kanji, you have to first go through that screen where you choose (1) do the damn kanji drawing (2) read the damned instructions for the 5000th time Smile If you read the instructions you'll see the red stroke thing. Maybe I misunderstood it, could be some artifact used only in the explanation screen.

Aye, Kanji Wataridori is a bit like "Typing of the Dead" where you have to type quickly words on the keyword to defeat the monsters.

I wouldn't count that game as a learning software, more of a memory stimulation for whatever you already learned well.

Also I think the first levels in that game are already well beyond beginner's reading ability.

How far do you have to go to unlock the two mini-games in Kakitori-Kun btw ?
Quote:How far do you have to go to unlock the two mini-games in Kakitori-Kun btw ?
Answering myself, the second mini game 漢字を繋ごう (つなごう, "connect the kanji")is a kind of mini-crossword where you fill in the empty boxes, in order to complete 2-kanji compounds. This mini-game unlocks after completing all the jukugo lessons for the first year (一年生).
Just found out there is a cool game in なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習 where you are given several bushus/primitives and you have to write a kanji using all the parts. As time increases and you are doing well, there are more components, and then 2 or 3 boxes to fill in kanji, so there are more combinations and it becomes more difficult to guess the characters.

That's the kind of mini-games that are just perfect after completing RtK !
"Kanji Dragon"
a kanji-training beat 'em up

New game! Good one?
Edited: 2007-08-06, 7:46 am
Among '200 Man nin no kanken' and 'Kakitorikun', I recommend Kakitorikun. Also we are sellling them both on our website, if you're having any trouble finding them--we can export them to you.