Simple JRPGs for reading immersion?

I am hoping to find a list of JRPGs I can plan and study the text with as a beginner and make progress as I learn more vocabulary.

Can anyone suggest any simple language games I could get started on please?

From my research I have found the below so far but wondering if the WK community have any further suggestions or wouldn’t recommend one of the below:

  • Yo-Kai Watch
  • Dragon Quest VII
  • Animal Crossing
  • Pokemon Series
  • Tales Of Series

I love playing final fantasy and persona currently also but I believe their language would be too far above my abilities for a long while.

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I’m about 30h into Dragon Quest 11 and have found it to be a decent level. Furigana can be turned on and off and it’s easy to follow along as well as continute the game forward even if you didn’t catch everything in the story due to the games “quest guide”.

The 3DS version is also really cool because the top screen will display text with furigana while the bottom screen wont. So you can mix and match as you play the game. Pretty neat.

For reference, grammar wise I have finished N5 level stuff and have started with N4.

As for Pokemon, they don’t use Kanji up until the 3DS games I believe, so take that into your consideration :slight_smile: I’m playing Pokemon Green now on my old gameboy color, and enjoying it but wish it had kanji for sure.

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And the newer ones - at least Sword & Shield - have an option to use kanji, but if you select that, you do not get any furigana. Seems an odd choice to me but at least you can turn the kanji off entirely.

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I played Ni no kuni on DS when I just started learning, and that was hard xD I’d recommend being around N4 level for it, not sure about PC/Playstation version of the game, but I’m guessing it’s the same level^^

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Ditto. It’s got furigana for everything, but it’s so titchy that it’s like having to learn a whole new character set.

I really should finish it someday. The magic book that comes with it is real pretty.

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Ditto! I didn’t have time to play for a while and put it aside…then like often with games, it’s a bit daunting to get back into it. I do love the magic book and game though. I think it’s great Japanese practice! ^>^

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There’s a very long demo (~10 hours) for Dragon Quest 11 S available for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC, so you could try that out for free. Depending on the platform, you might need to switch your region in the system settings or create a Japanese account to download the Japanese version of it though (other versions do not have the option to switch to Japanese text)

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I actually avoided games for a long time because my vocab just wasn’t there and I wouldn’t be able to read all kana games anyway.

But now, I’m equally comfortable with both but I prefer Kanji ones because they let me work on my Kanji reading.

However, there is one game that I would recommend you go with right away: Final Fantasy 6.

There’s a fantastic resource available with line by line translations for the entire game:

https://kwhazit.ucoz.net/trans/ff6/index.html

That let’s you study as you play.

Once you get a bit of Kanji under your belt, the following are really good:

  • Star Ocean First Departure Remake (Nintendo Switch). The original SNES version was only released in Japan so there are a lot of resources to help you figure out a the game specific terms. It’s good katakana practice with things like レザーアーマ. There’s quite a lot of voiced dialogue too.
  • Pokémon Sword/Shield
  • Any of the Persona games. I’m playing Persona 5 with Japanese audio. It’s fun to listen and try to understand what’s being said and then check yourself with the dialogue box.
  • Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch). Hands down one of the greatest JRPGs ever IMO. Like Persona you can play with Japanese audio in the English version, but you can also use Japanese text if you change your console language.
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Depends on what you personally like. If it’s FF and Persona - play them and don’t worry about your level, especially if you’'ll pick up something you already played. I consider P4G to be less complicated in terms of langauge then P5R for some reason. SNES FF’s are great for no-kanji reading practice.
From your list I’d recommend Tales of Berseria because of simple font and tons of pausable voiced dialogues + it’s a good game!)

My personal favourites are (not really a jrpg, but well…):

  1. Okami.
    As a study material: font is a little scary at first, no voiced dialogues, grammar and vocab are somewhat challenging, esp. for divine characters (super-honorific-old-fashioned, yeah…). But furigana is everywhere - at least you’ll know how to read all this!
    As a game: plot is based on japanese folklore and tales. Unique visual style, nice music, nice combat, the game itself is pretty long but not monotonous.
  2. Ryuu ga gotoku Ishin (Yakuza series). (For more jrpg-ish try Ryuu ga gotoku 7 (“Yakuza: Like a Dragon”)
    A a study material: Text-heavy, simple font, no furigana, but you can pause anywhere. Has markers for where you need to go and they repeat important plot staff many-many times. Vocab varies from “oh I saw it on Wanikani yesterday!” to “is this even kanji?”. Grammar is all over the place too + many kansaiben-speaking characters.
    As a game: plot based on meiji restoration period (maybe if you like Bleach or Gintama, you’ll find many similar themes and things). It’s a beat 'em up but with swords (and a gun). Nice music, nice combat, many minigames (from chinchirorin to your little farm with “that pink thing, I thing it’s a potato” and “I looked it up 5 mins ago and already forget how to read it?!” veggies). Oh, and karaoke))
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I have the Japanese version of Yokai Watch. It’s pretty easy to understand and has full furigana. Sadly not too many voiced lines and the ones that are are usually cutscenes that are blazing by very fast.

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If the OP has no Kanji knowledge above level 4, I would not recommend Pokémon and especially not the Tales series.

As mentioned before, Pokémon is full Kana until Gen 4 and starting from Gen 5 it’s either full Kana or with Kanji enabled and no furigana.

The Tales series is full of Kanji and fantasy language, I would not recommend it now.

Tbh at that level, especially if their grammar knowledge is similar, I’m not sure one could read any kind of native content. Keep in mind I’ve never actually read Japanese books and stuff specifically aimed at learners like graded readers etc. and the easiest native reading content I’ve found thus far would be this visual novel called はなひらっ. It’s a cute story about 4 girls and their daily life stuff they get up to with each other. I’d say you can probably read it with relative ease around lvl 20-30 and n4 grammar. Most others I’ve read or tried reading require so much more, and jrpgs can be especially difficult with all that fantasy and game related vocab.

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I’ve recently been playing pokemon mystery dungeon (sky) in Japanese and it’s been really fun. There’s no kanji and the vocab is mostly easy but there’s a good amount of more difficult words spread throughout that have made it a fun learning experience. It might be tricky if you aren’t familiar with the Japanese names for pokemon and moves, but thankfully the item names in this game were translated more literally than in the main series so if you’ve played them in English before it’s not too hard to figure out what’s what.

Paper Mario on the N64 and TTYD on the GC are pretty nice too, featuring “easy kanji” (for Japanese kids obviously) with furigana on everything and harder kanji words in katakana.

I love Ni no Kuni, will try it in Japanese, never thought of that!

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Creating the account and/or getting access to the Japanese stores is easy.

Actually being about to BUY anything? Yeah… enjoy that.

If you don’t have a Japanese issues credit card for the Xbox Store, you are absolutely out of luck when buying Japanese content.

I actually recommend buying physical releases for most systems. Amazon Japan and CD Japan offer game sales, as does PlayAsia.

You can try to get digital gift cards but it seems for the Xbox, that’s all but dried up. PSN is easier to obtain but most of the places I’ve tried lately even had PSN digital funds out of stock. Sad because it would be so easy to just buy it digitally and not pay shipping, etc.

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I gotta be honest, that surprises me since I was able to just change my PC region to Japan and download the Japanese version of Dragon Quest 11 which is included in the GamePass subscription. So I would have thought it would be easier ^^"

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I mean, there are many console games that let you switch the game language, too… but sometimes the Western version doesn’t contain Japanese (and that’s something that also happens on the PC occasionally), and if you want to buy games that haven’t been localized, you’re SOL.

(Also, if you’re on Steam, you can just a) switch the default language for all games in the Steam settings, or b) select a different language for individual games in the game’s properties. No need to switch your system language.)

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Yeah, as I’ve said, Dragon Quest only includes the Japanese language in the Japanese version of the game but (at least on PC) it wasn’t that difficult to connect to the Japanese store and download it from there

So that is interesting.

You definitely can’t BUY content from Japan without using Yen. The PS Store is the same. At least on Xbox. I wonder if the Windows Store follows some other rule… This is the same problem when trying to buy Japanese music via Amazon Japan. Just having a Japanese address isn’t enough for them, it has to be a credit card provided by a Japanese company. I just go and use a VPN and E-Onkyo when I want to buy digital music though… :smiley:

I have Game Pass. I had no problem downloading the Japanese version of the game but It gives an error and won’t play.

So possibly it’s an issue with my account? Don’t know. Definitely won’t start though.

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Yeah, I checked my usual site and all the Xbox gift cards in ¥ are out of stock. I think Microsoft might be changing something in that regard. Hopefully it’s making the Xbox Game Pass global.

There are still Nintendo Switch gift cards available though. That’s how I usually get games on my Japanese account.

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