Level Up Your Japanese: Romaji Adventures

Background
Romaji Adventures helps break through cultural barriers and expands your horizons around the Land of the Rising Sun. It delivers on the perception of Japan. In order to truly master another language, one must understand another’s life. Romaji Adventures does this through the narrative based on the time during a cultural metamorphosis of Japan and does it beautifully. A time when the country was taking in the influences from trade partners leading to a tug-of-war between traditional, feudalistic ways of life versus the new from abroad. 

Gameplay
Now that we’ve got a bit of the background set we get to focus on the gaming aspect. It is an old school turn-based RPG that screams out grind city. This is your standard over-head, beat-up,  exp-up game but there is a twist. You need to use the power of knowledge! Get your Nihongo (Japanese) on and take in the cultivation of the culture. Emerge yourself in historic trivia and conversational skills. Use these said skills to inquire and explore. The more you progress in a conversation, the more you propel in the story and into new adventures. Adventures that will have you exploring new regions of Japan and experiencing the modernization of the country.

Feedback

Romaji is the simplification of the Japanese language through phonetics and utilization of Roman characters (which are quite familiar in the English literature). Bringing the familiarity of sounds words make in English into mastering pronunciation of those in Japanese. It’s a great way to dissolve the differences between the languages. Romaji Adventures is a game where experience can transcend from the characters on to you by Romaji. Keeping the dialogue simple and easy to pick up the clues and cues given. Meaning as long as you know English you can learn Japanese playing this game. It gives that early-education-kid-show vibe but with a bit more mature content. No blue dog or monkey for support, just the power of conversation with the community. A community with a bar and where the challenges can potentially get you killed.

I understand everything is still under construction but I want to make sure I give some feedback as it is a beta. I’m not too savvy with RPG makers’ limitations but these are the opportunities I saw. 

I feel as if the game at the moment lacks support for the consumer. For starters, there is no actual map. I know the maps are relatively small but if you happen to be antsy like myself you tend to click faster than you can read. I was able to pick up the queues on where to go. A nice little map with a marker would be nice to help unnecessary travel to locked doors, maybe even signs would be useful; like ones saying Nagasaki to the east or help labeling buildings. Then again, I blame my curiosity for wanting to explore beyond what is being asked and then promptly forgetting what my task was. I would say that changing the font colors to highlight important points will go a long way as well. This is important for consumers with a busy schedule who depend on saves. Nothing is worse than coming back to play and have to retrace your steps for hours to find out that your next objective was right in front of you.

I’m fortunate to have a decent comprehension of Japanese so I was able to have a good flow to the game, otherwise, quizzes and challenges can become quite daunting. Going back and forth between someone in one town for hints and going to another town to answer. It’s fine once in a while but I feel like the players’ patience will be tested quickly as you progress. I feel like the game will benefit from our protagonist having a journal or a diary that is accessible from the menu. It’s only fitting that our hero writes about his adventure. They could log objectives and notes that can serve as a cheat sheet during your adventures. Between the language, the monsters, and the statuses, I’m sure the consumers will appreciate the aid.

I must have become a victim to my antsy clicking yet again. I never found out what TP is. Of course, I joke and say “toilet paper” as it correlates with current times but it drove me nuts trying to identify the impact it has on the game. All I can confirm is that it is a part of the battling interface and it sporadically moves depending on actions taken. It was cool to see that the learning continued into the battle phases of the game. For example,  I appreciated how in order to have an effect on a blue obake (ghost) you have to use the special move with the name with blue (Ao iro) in Japanese. Overall, I enjoyed the classic RPG feel in the battling since it got my blood pumping. I like exp and I like leveling up, however, you know what didn’t pump me up? The battle song. Your screen fades and you are taken by surprise since you are now battling for your life with ninjas holding sharp kunai ready in hand and you hear a melody that inspires tranquility and happy thoughts. Do you guys want to drink sake? Please bring something upbeat to match the excitement presented by the battles. I want to keep my adrenaline high to keep me sharp and excited during battles. 

I’m interested in the development of the story and how the characters each experience the game. I look forward to the dialogue between the characters and how each will uniquely adapt to the culture. I did want to make note of a break in the proverbial narrative wall. Are the characters supposed to know this is a game? I was bothered by the old man in Nagasaki referring to “this game”. I was living my fantasy of living in Japan until that very moment. I guess it is more of my preference to keep real life in the dark for the sake of the simulation but I guess I’m looking for consistency going forward. 

As mentioned before, I’m aware of possible limitations RPG Maker presents that may prevent making the game fully what I imagine. I have a strong passion for the Japanese language and culture. I’m truly a fan of these ideologies presented in Romaji Adventures. I see the potential but needs some polishing here and there. I was actually trying to confirm what platforms they are focusing on. As that is what can truly determine the game’s full potential. Feel free to contact me if there’s anything further that I can help provide.  

Misc Notes:

  • Stairs in the inn were my first nemesis. I kept going up and down due to holding arrow keys too long. 
  • Selective obstruction inconsistencies: There were times I could walk on or over flowers (sometimes rocks) and then there were other times I couldn’t. 
  • The game froze when talking to a blonde customer in the food hall/restaurant (this is when I found out the power of saving as I didn’t save the game prior to this).

 

Juan was raised in a place where dysfunctional urban youth tainted the lives of those who were exposed to the drugs and the gunfire that lit the streets. In order survive, he kept himself barricaded in his room, in the trenches of Nintendo and Sega. It’s how his passion developed for gaming and how the creative imagination took the driver’s seat. Gaming is an escape from the struggles of life and to express frustration. Just because you gain responsibilities as time progresses doesn’t mean you have to let go of gaming. Just adapt and evolve it to best suit your lifestyle and embrace the adventures that being a gamer brings. Stay posted and see what the product of the GAMING EVOLUTION can do.

Further reading

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