There’s something that I love about D3’s Simple series other than the games being really cheap. A lot of times they go on the road less traveled make risky titles like the Origin of caveman where you lead cavemen on mammoth hunts and Demolition Girl which is like playing through Attack of the 50ft Woman. Other times they have educational titles, like their kanji quiz series which has come out on the PS2 and PSP. Flash card quizzes are OK, but the DS is really the perfect system for learning kanji since you can write on the touch screen. I picked up Simple DS Series Vol. 10: The Doko Demo Kanji Quiz to see if it was a helpful tool for mastering kanji.
In the Doko Demo Kanji Quiz you hold the DS like a book similar to Hotel Dusk or Brain Age. You start a game by taking a little quiz to determine how good you are at breaking down kanji into hiragana. On the left screen there is a passage and some kanji are highlighted. Then on the right hand side of the screen you have boxes you can write hiragana in. The test switches it up and gives you hiragana on the left and you have to write the correct kanji in the box. Once you’ve made your profile there are three kinds of tests to do: converting hiragana to kanji, kanji to hiragana and a kanji radical test. Then there are four difficulty levels for each test to complete. After you complete a section you’re given the correct answers for all of the ones you missed, so you can learn what the correct answers are.
Besides the main tests there are sixteen different mini games that are really drills. In most of the games you’re selecting the correct kanji or hiragana out of a touch screen multiple choice menu on the right screen. However, there are a couple of interesting mini games in the package. In one bouncing simple kanji characters float around and you have to combine them to make a new character. Another has players select a “path” to get from one kanji to another. There are preset kanji on the right hand side and you have to pick the right radicals from the group to get to the kanji on the bottom of the screen. The most hilarious one is where pink silhouettes of pinup girls covering kanji and you have to try and write the character before time runs out.
Are you going to actually learn kanji from the Simple DS Series: Doko Demo Kanji Quiz? Probably not. You’ve got to understand the different kanji radicals and more importantly the order of kanji strokes. If you can’t write characters in the correct brush stroke order, the kanji quiz has a hard time figuring out what you wrote. Also you have to already have a firm grasp of hiragana to get anywhere with this game and a good grasp of kanji too See the kanji quiz isn’t here really to teach you new kanji, it’s more of a refresher to quiz you on which kanji you already know. Through the drill system you might learn some new kanji, but if you’re just starting to get the hang of kanji pass this up.