Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Playing Games in Japanese

So recently I've been trying to wipe Hyper Dimension Neptunia off my backlog list and I thought I'd share what playing games in Japanese is like.

First of all some background to my ability.  I've been studying Japanese for a good while and I have a degree in the language.  After I graduated a 4 year course in the UK (which included 1 year in Japan) I came to Japan and started working and living with my wife where we speak Japanese pretty much constantly at home.  While I'm not studying the language formally anymore I'm surrounded by it on all sides so I get lots of chances to build my skills.  While my speaking and listening are pretty good, my ability to read Kanji could use some work and since I've not hand written anything in a long time my writing has probably gone to shit. 

The first game I ever attempted to play in Japanese was Catherine.

Catherine is a puzzle game and since the story is told mostly by dudes sat around a table in a bar then the vocabulary in the game isn't particularly difficult.  What made Catherine even easier is that it's almost all voice acted so any difficult words in the subtitles I could make up for my just listening closely to the actors.

Hyper Dimension Neptunia is a different beast though.  While the game is mostly voice acted, all the characters speak in that high pitched moe voice which makes it very easy to miss shit.  The game also uses a lot of vocabulary and ways of speaking that I'm just flat out not used to which makes the thing quite hard to understand at times.

Old games are even worse with insane kanji or fonts that are so hard to read it would make your head spin.  Visual novels are a real pain in the ass since I can't get through one of those without being firmly attached to my electronic dictionary.

That said, getting through a game entirely in Japanese is a rather satisfying experience and over time my reading of kanji and the like will get better and I imagine it'll be second nature at some point.  If you are studying Japanese and you want to play some Japanese games then make sure you pick your game carefully because its very easy to get lost in all the weird words and phrases that make up the dialogue.

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