Games by level

Hi!

I’m a big gamer, and I have been trying to figure out a road map for - very roughly - at what point in my language journey I can get stuck in with various games that are on my to-play list. I’ve searched through the forum to see where people specifically mentioned levels they were on when playing various games in Japanese and looked at videos of game play to try to get a feel for difficulty of the text, amount of kanji used and ratio of game play to reading. Of course WK level is only a small part of measuring comprehension, and reading ability depends highly on general exposure, grammar and non-kanji vocabulary as well. Therefore being able to understand any game always comes down to the individual.

Currently playing Starfy and Rockman X2, and while I still have to look up words, it’s not to such an overwhelming amount that I lose all joy of playing the game.

That being said, I’d be happy to hear suggestions and opinions.

Level 17

  • Starfy
    Hiragana, clear distinction between words. Simple vocabulary/grammar. Low text to game play ratio.
  • Super Mario Bros 3
    Hiragana/Katakana, simple short texts interspersed between levels.
  • Super Mario 64
  • Rockman X/X2
    Some kanji, but not much text to game play.

Level 18

  • Pikmin 2 Wii
    Text almost only between levels
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Zack and Wiki
  • Densha de Go
  • Snack World Gold (Switch)
    Simple dialogue. Furigana for all kanji. Clear high res font.

Level 19

  • Animal Crossing
    Furigana for all kanji. A bit text heavy.
  • Yokai Watch
    Furigana for all kanji. A bit text heavy.
  • Little Charo
    (There are about 1,300 kanji used in the game, and there is unfortunately no furigana. Script is availale though and can be played with rikai-kun/chan.)
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
    All hiragana/katakana. Simple story

Level 20

  • Inazuma 11
  • Pokemon Yellow
  • Dragon Quest III
  • Zelda Ocarina of time 3D
    3DS version has furigana for all kanji. Only a few places where the text scrolls automatically.
  • Final Fantasy 1 (FC)

Level 21

  • Gargoyle’s Quest (GB)
  • Harvest Moon (SFC)
  • GameCenter CX 1/2
  • Boku no Natsuyasumi
  • Shenmue 1/2
    Mostly simple dialogue. Text advances automatically, but critical text will usually be repeated when interacting with characters a second time.

Level 22

  • Getsu Fuumaden FC
  • Seiken Densetsu GB
  • Phantasy Star MKII
  • Napple Tale
  • Go! Go! Nippon
    Straightforward dialogue. Can use rikai-kun/chan with text hook.
  • Nekopara
    Straightforward dialogue. Can use rikai-kun/chan with text hook.

Level 23

  • PoPoLoCrois Monogatari
  • EX Troopers
  • Sweet Home
  • Ni no Kuni
    Furigana for all kanji. Some characters speech patterns are a bit difficult. Dialogue partially moves on automatically
  • Captain Tsubasa

Level 24

  • Mother 1/2/3
  • Biohazard
  • Tecmo Pro Wrestling
  • Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
    No furigana, fairly simple dialogue, item names are quite complex with lots of kanji

Level 25

  • Touhou games
  • Live a Live
  • Criminal Girls

Level 26

  • Grandia (Saturn)
  • Final Fantasy IX/X
  • Princess Crown

Level 27

  • Suikoden
  • Moon PS1

Level 30

  • Fire Emblem Awakening
  • Ace Attorney Series

Thanks!

32 Likes

Check out Recettear: An Item Shop Tale. I’m not sure what level you’d put that at. Probably close to Animal Crossing.

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Thanks! I will take a look at it.

i’m 21. my japanese is pretty good, but my kanji knowledge according to my wk level.
currently playing nekopara 1, and while i can follow it easily, reading is a bit slow and i miss some words. it’s not too bad though, most of the time.

2 Likes

I’ll probably play some Super Mario Party tonight. I’ll keep track of the kanji used.

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Oh yeah, I have Ni No Kuni in japanese, but I still haven’t played it because I don’t have a DS.
It’s good to know that the vocabulary isn’t that though, but I should definitely work on my grammar and non-kanji, it still slows me down whenever I do translating work :_;

It would be great if it had “furigana” option. As it is, for Japanese text there is either Kanji or romaji, and nothing inbetween. It wouldn’t be such a problem if it had voice acting (as then you could hear the readings), but unfortunately it’s unvoiced.

But I like the idea behind this VN, having JP and EN text at the same time is nice. Will try to get back to it in few levels - when I tried it two months ago, my reading was painfully slow as I tried to read out loud every japanese sentence, but knew too little Kanji :wink:

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Final Fantasy X remake:
Very difficult !!
But you can add a mod so you can have the voice in Japanese and subtitles in English which is quite neat.

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Recently tried playing “Yomawari - Night alone”. Easy vocabulary, but unfortunately almost all in kana, so not too useful for practising kanji. I also still have trouble distinguishing the words in hiragana-only sentences.

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So, yeah, I knew Super Mario Party was furigana heavy, but now that I’m playing again I realized it’s literally all furigana. If there is a kanji on the screen, it has furigana attached.

So that should make it accessible to anyone in the sense that you don’t need to be a specific WK level to be able to sound out every word. Of course, there are some words that you won’t learn on WK until late levels (or ever).

Update: There is actually one place that has no furigana, I remembered, and it’s the names of the minigames on the random selection screen, which is kind of annoying, but I guess you get used to seeing the same ones.

5 Likes

I’d like to note that Mother 2 kicked my ass. It’s all kana, so it took a lot of squinting to even mentally chop what NPCs were saying into words, and I soon gave up. (That was 10 levels of WK ago, though…!)

There’s even a little bit of this:

4 Likes

Wow with a wk lvl 30 you can try to play Ace attorney? I did not expect it! which level do you think could be Persona 5 or Person 4 in term of japanese/wanikane level?

2 Likes

Thanks for the list! As a Level-5 fan, I’m looking forward to playing Snack World, which I plan to import next time we order games from Japan. It’ll be nice to have crisp text to read (as much as I love the Youkai Watch series, the 3DS’ resolution makes furigana hard to read at times, which is a good or bad thing, depending on whether you want to rely on them).

And I love the Starfy series. Kinda on the easy side, but really cute and fun. Reminds me somehow of Kirby, so it’s mindboggling that Nintendo localized only one game in the series.

2 Likes

Do you have a 3DS? DS games aren’t region-locked on the 3DS, except for titles that use any DSi feature (Solatorobo is one such title, eventhough its DSi feature is a minor one).

I don’t have any DS yet. I bought the game before the console on a whim, haha.
I’m planning to buy a DSiXL so I have an easier time reading the kanji and all. Guess I’d have to pirate it. but, this shouldn’t be too hard, right?

I have an original copy of Pokemon Yellow that I’m waiting to play once I get to a higher level.

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Around 35, you’ll know most of the kanji, at least from the first game, and if you know the stories well from English, it’s not too hard to be semantically primed to figure out what most words are quickly, nor to fill in the blanks a bit so you don’t get stuck.

But it’s certainly not fast: my playthrough took six times as long as the HLTB norm, and that was with very few lookups, and I had played through it all twice before.

For context, it was the third text-heavy game I’ve played, and the first unvoiced; I moved on to a Layton game after that (which has furi) and think that might be a better entry-point if you haven’t played much stuff in Japanese before, or Layton vs AA (also with furi), which I’m playing now and finding pretty easy (though still slow), with most of the difficulty coming from quirky speech patterns and worldbuilding.

I started playing Pokemon Red a couple years back, but stopped fairly quickly as the lack of any back/front light drove me nuts. I’ve been meaning to get a GBA SP to play it on, but two years later and I’ve yet to actually get one.

Anyone got any good, super low level, PS4/PSVita recommendations? (I may be level 30, but my vocab/grammar is :poop:)

Not super-low-level, but if you can handle N4 grammar and anime vocab, Atelier Rorona and Neptunia are pretty accessible by the early 20s.

It’d be more efforts than just getting any DS (non DSi) or 3DS console, actually, since either console would play the game without issue.