Kana Quest Switch Review – Pera Pera Puzzle

How's your hiragana and katakana comprehension? Still reading this? Then give Kana Quest a try to bolster your understanding.

はじめまして. Wait: we’re already acquainted and friends, right? Besides, you might not know any Japanese just yet. Have I got news for you… Kana Quest, from Not Dead Design and Whitethorn Games, is out now on the Nintendo Switch, and if you don’t know your hiragana from your oregano (sorry, clutching at straws), this is the game for you.

As an advocate for education, especially with games, I was pleased to see another Japanese game for the Switch. My kids are half-Japanese, but living in Blighty means they’ve lost some connections with the language as it’s not part of the curriculum. Have you tried teaching your kids things outside of school? Good luck. Well, when it’s a game…

That’s right, Kana Quest is a game. And, unlike Hiragana Pixel Party, there’s a little bit more of a game here, notably the puzzle elements. Granted, the quest in the title is hardly an open-world RPG and is more about sliding tiles to match them with one another. However, as an educational title, it’s about matching up kana with similar-sounding kana. For example, ka ki ku ke ko (Japanese vowels are said in a different order) go together, and those with the same ending vowel – na and ta, for instance.

Kana Quest Switch Review - Nya
Nya. Source: Nintendo

Kana Quest Switch Review

Your task is to match up the tiles, represented by some kawaii faces that shift to a heart animation once paired, and do so in as few moves as possible. There’s no punishment for taking your time, but naturally, you’ll want to do it in as few steps as possible to get a gold, silver or bronze ranking. Now, you might be wondering how you can even read the kana if you haven’t a clue, but the game will teach you authentic pronunciation. There are no stroke actions going on, Kana Quest is about reading and understanding their sounds. Next stop, JLPT.

Ok, doing your Japanese proficiency test solely from playing this is unlikely to happen as you won’t be learning words or grammar here, nor will you be able to ask where the local library is. Instead, this game is more of a complementary title to reinforce your studies and help you get more fluent in your reading. To an extent. More specifically, it’s a puzzle game where the Japanese element could be exchanged for hieroglyphics even. 

As a game, Kana Quest is simple yet enjoyable. It uses a pixel art aesthetic and some authentic, upbeat Japanese-style music. I played this solely in handheld mode, which was arguably better as it’s much more intuitive because you use the touchscreen to slide titles. One of the main motivations was for my kids to practice, and my youngest, five, was able to play the game with relative ease. Did it pay off? Well, she was able to identify some of the kana from playing this, so I’d say so, as she hadn’t made much progress from her old Anpanman books.

Kana Quest Switch Review - Vapor Kana
Vapor kana. Source: Nintendo


A very quick round-up as Kana Quest is a straightforward title. In short, this would work well if you are learning Japanese and reinforcing your understanding of hiragana and katakana. While it won’t build your vocabulary and conversation skills, it will assist your learning studies, and the actual game is entertaining once you start planning your moves and not just winging it.