Vulgar Knight
Hiragana Pixel Party title screen

Hiragana Pixel Party Switch Review

A lot of people have a connection with Japanese culture some way or another – be it an interest in samurai, sushi or Nintendo. As a result, there are also a number of people who want to learn the language too. I barely get by with English let alone another language but I’ve been studying and using Japanese for about 15 years or more (that’s awful reading that – I should be good for that amount of time!).

People who are good at learning languages are diligent, stick with a handful of methods and progress. Alternatively, people like me think that like gym equipment, if you own it, you’ll improve. Of course, that’s ridiculous but if I were to analyse it, that’s what it would be in my subconscious logic.

An early katakana character to learn

Hiragana Pixel Party is one of those things that I purchase to learn and have fun but this one was for my eldest as if you study Japanese, you know that both hiragana and katakana are relatively simple to learn and the first steps to learning the characters. That didn’t stop me playing it though.

As the name suggests, Hiragana Pixel Party is a pixel art/8-bit style game where your character strolls along a path and has to jump boxes that represent a hiragana or katakana character (kana so not to get confused with the playable character). The character calls out one of these kana – later a series of them – and you simply press the related button in time. There are no other controls, just a memory/rhythm game to effectively learn Japanese.

Hiragana Pixel Party button combinations

Because I’ve already learned these kana, I can’t really give a balanced view if this helps with studying as while the pronunciation is fine, they are simple sounds – no vocabulary or sentences are learned in this game. It’s almost like a demo or something you would play on a free website or even built into your TV. As Hiragana Pixel Party progresses, so does the frequency of kana and button presses so it ends up boiling down to timing more than learning, in my opinion. I also found it hard to actually learn with distracting music.

My daughter played this at the time she was 7 and got frustrated with how hard it became. Ironically, she learned hiragana independently on a trip to Japan last year so didn’t really get anything out of this game. She since played it again when I wrote this review and was more interested in the game aspect of getting the timing right, but as predicted, got frustrated with the difficulty again. It did prompt her to want to practice her Japanese, but not using Hiragana Pixel Party.

Earned a new ranking

Looking online I can see that some people have enjoyed this or found useful as they are pursuing their interest in learning Japanese. While my opinion isn’t likely to sway anyone and I also have to add that I wouldn’t put people off a game for the sake of it, I think there are better ways to learn that are even free – podcasts, YouTube videos, reading manga and watching anime on Netflix.

If completely new to Japanese, I would always say learn hiragana and katakana before kanji (the Chinese characters) but I can’t say that Hiragana Pixel Party is on my list of recommendations. I would, however, recommend the Heisig method or more recent WaniKani app. Would I make this recommendation just for the gameplay? No. If you want a timing-based game, then may I suggest Thumper? Equally frustrating but much more fun, rewarding and a better feel to it. As for learning Japanese 頑張ってください.

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