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North America Details

Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: October 14, 2008
Genre: Educational
Players: Single Player
ESRB: Everyone

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Game Review

Mar 09 2012 10:15 PM
Most of our gaming experience is brought to us from Japan, which would give many a reason to want to learn the language, if not just for fun. However, how does learning software on the DS compare to something like, let’s say Rosetta Stone? Well first we need to keep in mind that the DS isn’t a learning software machine. Not just that, but you can not expect to learn a language over night. If you get this expecting a miracle then you will be sorely disappointed.

For those that don’t know, Rosetta Stone is a world renowned language learning software, the name coming from the actual artifact that was discovered to have ancient languages on it. Yet unless you are really dedicated and have $549 dollars to spend then it’s not something you would be getting. With a price of $34.95, I can honestly say you get way more then your moneys worth!

First starting up you are, of course, asked to enter your name. Right away you’re introduced to Japanese as they ask the question in the language along with a translation.

There is a focus on proper grammar and formal structure of how to speak. This goes along with the culture of the people since speaking anything but formal is not proper unless the person is the same age and a close friend. Yet even with that as the main focus, the game does give you the informal words, these are just not included in the mini games or lesson plans.

One thing when learning a language, repetition is key. This game assists you with a selection of mini games as its bases for instruction. As you progress more games become available. Everything is done for you step by step. One thing that I found to be annoying was the fact that you only needed to earn 10 points for each new word learned and then the next set of words from a new lesson was added in. You can’t go back either to select a group of words to work with so things can get confusing real fast.

Granted though the reason for this is clear, one can not learn a language by playing games alone. Its structure is set up to force you to use what you have learned outside of playing. This is the only way you can remember what you are learning. Each lesson plan consists of 10 words and there are 2 mini games used. So if you wish to focus on just the words in a particular lesson you’ll have to redo the same one over and over again with just the 2 games to choose from.

Along with the mini games and lessons, the game includes a dictionary, phrase book with a favorites list, and a note pad that allows for one note at a time. These do come in handy if you keep your DS with you at all times when using the language.

Focus of course is on how the game works as a teaching aid, but there is some nice visuals and sound. As you go from lesson to lesson, you see a tour map of Japan and images from the country. There is also a bit of information on the culture. This does add to the atmosphere of the game, especially with the pleasant music. Voice is also used to help you hear the correct pronunciation of the words, this of course is important when learning a new language.

I’ve only touched on a bit of what this game, as a learning coach, has to offer. There are so many mini games and TONS of lesson plans. If you were to use this as how it’s meant to be you would learn the language just as well as if you went to college for it. Key here being practice, repetition, and using the language with people from the country. For me it has worked wonders because I work with a group of Japanese people so I’m fully immersed in the culture. For someone that just wants to pick up on a few phrases for fun, you won’t find it very helpful and can get bored easy. It’s not meant to be a pick up and play when you feel game. I would recommend it only for those really dedicated for learning the language because it is budget friendly and it really works!

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