Japanese Romaji Adventure – Review
Follow Genre: Educational, RPG
Developer: JBO Media
Publisher: Angel Star Studios
Platform: Mac, PC, Linux
Tested on: PC

Japanese Romaji Adventure – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: Cool educational game that works well with lots of educational extra background information
Bad: The lack of pronunciated words seems needlessly stupid
User Score
8.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Every now and then, a project is made either out of passion or out of need. Japanese Romaji Adventure seems to be driven by both, because why else would somebody make an educational game? Here’s something for the increasing group of Japan-enthusiasts; here is a game to learn Japanese while playing.

Story

Japanese Romaji Adventure clearly takes great pride in Japanese history and culture and wants you to know as much of those things as it wants you to learn Japanese. The game is filled with facts about happenings, people, and the origins and proceedings of culture such as the use of “block prints”. The story Japanese Romaji Adventure tells you while handing you these facts is smart and well done. It’s the story of how countries came into contact with Japan, and have their ambassadors and representatives roam Japan to leave their best impression to guarantee a smooth future relationship.

This translates to a pretty linear path of talking to people who will have bits of lessons prepared for you by introducing themselves in Japanese, teaching you to count, the words for different colors, and more. While the process of learning is quite smooth, the directions and objectives are not always as clear as they should be (or easily forgotten). This may cause you to walk back and forth a lot before you find the right building to progress the story. While this feels rather realistic as you play as an “explorer of strange new lands”, gameplay-wise it’s not the best possible option.

Graphics

As far as Japanese Romaji Adventure is concerned, it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the standard RPG Maker games. It’s always a bit hard to tell which graphics are included in RPG Maker, which are derived from existing ones, and which are made by the developing team of a game. That’s why, like most RPG Maker games, Japanese Romaji Adventure is presumably a mix of all of the above. Because of this, the game does look like something representing Japan, but the graphics are not to be called special or truly Japanese. If anything, aside from a small static pond or such, it’s all pretty generic. The team of heroes/explorers you play with, NPCs, enemies, and the animations are no exception to this rule.

Sound

One of the prime aspects you would expect from a game teaching you a language you’re supposed to be speaking out loud eventually, is the pronunciation; the way the language sounds. Unfortunately, this seemed to be one step too far for Japanese Romaji Adventure. Not only is the game missing something that seems so essential, but it also doesn’t make up for it with any of the other sounds. The music might not be enough to drive you crazy, forever looping what sounds like royalty-free music, but it’s not special either. This is rather typical for RPG maker games, though the program also offers possibilities for sound, so it’s not really an excuse. We get that powerful music can be distracting while learning a new language, but generally, the sound should have gotten way more attention. This is especially true with the expected narration of Japanese words you see on screen.

Gameplay

Japanese Romaji Adventure should be considered an educational game first, and an RPG second. This means that the main goal of the game is to learn Japanese by playing and that playing the game comes second. It’s really cool to see a game with such a clear purpose do its very best, pumping a ton of knowledge into the world where it’s accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. You will learn while playing, whether you want to or not. The game does this by dividing the knowledge into quizzes that you have to follow during a line of quests. In this perspective, the way the information is divided isn’t much different from a school book. You go from lesson to lesson, starting with the easier ones. On one side, the game throws quizzes at you. You learn from these if you take the game seriously. If you don’t, you can just guess the right answers without consequences time and time again, but then there wouldn’t be a point in playing an educational game like this.

When not running around doing quests by talking to people and finishing quizzes, you might find yourself battling. The first battles we encountered were smart. To learn colors, we had to fight against different colored enemies and choose the corresponding magic attacks. Only by learning the words for red, blue, yellow, and green, you were able to slay the enemies. This way, the knowledge of languages had been put to good use and actually felt like something useful, graspable in a clear and defined situation. In total, this adventure tries to teach you over 500 words, giving you a good, broad start in the Japanese language and culture. That is if you put a bit of effort into it and don’t expect the game to do all the work for your lazy brain.

Conclusion

While Japanese Romaji Adventure is a cool concept that actually succeeds in teaching you some Japanese sentences and customs, especially the lack of an audible pronunciation is rather frustrating. Other than that, the game is pretty linear in the information it gives you, like a textual school book, but gamified. The story offers a realistic, simplified look at the first contact with Japan and learning all about the country’s history. The graphics and general sound design don’t stray from the generic RPG Maker content enough, but overall the game succeeds in what it advertises to teach you.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Japanese Romaji Adventure - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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