Hiragana Pixel Party (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 07.01.2018

Review for Hiragana Pixel Party on Nintendo Switch

Self-proclaimed as a "rhythm-action Japanese-learning chiptune adventure," Hiragana Pixel Party originally launched on Steam as a method for gamers to learn the most basic aspects of the Japanese language, the symbols for the phonetic alphabets of Hiragana and Katakana. This is one of the best aspects of Japanese to begin learning, and it opens up a whole new world being able to read コカ・コーラ on a drinks menu and knowing it means Coca Cola. Replaying Final Fantasy VII in Japanese and knowing how to make ティファ use a potion using the アイテム command is also quite fantastic. However, can this game assist in learning those aspects? Cubed3 finds out!

There are a ton of games promising new and innovative methods of teaching, especially in regards to languages, and this is nothing but a good thing. Tangential learning is the best method on the planet to assist in learning and videogames that teach have been around for a very long time. Look at the Fun School series back on computers like the Amstrad CPC 464. Learning toys and learning games continue to develop and grow and give new ways for people of all ages to learn.

The developer of Hiragana Pixel Party is using a simple concept. Basically, the symbols flash on screen in a Simple Simon-style order and have to be hit to the chiptune beats, while in the background a chibi anime girl hops over obstacles in time with the button presses. The game offers two separate paths to play through, and despite being entitled Hiragana Pixel Party, there is a Hiragana path and a Katakana path to take on. This allows players to learn the fundamentals of the language and also to learn the system with which foreign and borrowed words are written.

Screenshot for Hiragana Pixel Party on Nintendo Switch

It's a basic system and one that previously has been shown to work, repeatedly flashing the symbols up so the players begin to memorise them without much thought. Here, though, there's a flaw with the mechanics. Between each series of jumps, the placement of the kana for this stage is shuffled. This means that instead of spending the time learning the symbols and getting them ingrained, like when using flash cards, it's spent looking to see where the symbols have been placed this time.

It's a disastrous flaw. There's still fun to be had here, but flawed is the opportune word. It doesn't deliver as either an enjoyable game or as a learning device. The gameplay is simple but repetitive, the type of system that will assist anyone trying to memorise this basic aspect of the language, but it's so disappointing considering what this could have been - a core system that could have been built on and been a superb language learning aide. Later levels could build up to simple sentences, thanks to the style of the Japanese language. Basic phrases could be laid out to the chiptune. There could even be a place to throw in some Kanji here and there.

This lack of maturity also shows in the presentation. The weird blobby/blocky mascot looks very amateur, the limited amount of chiptunes are enjoyable enough but there are so few they get repetitive very quickly, and there's little originality or style in the overall design. This is all such a shame.

Screenshot for Hiragana Pixel Party on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

The interest in learning Japanese has always been large for fans of gaming and geek culture, and tangential learning is a fantastic gateway into understanding the language. However, Hiragana Pixel Party works only in a tangential sense to memorise the easiest part of the language. With just a few tweaks, and some greater focus on learning more of the language, this could have been fantastic as either an actual teaching tool or learning aide. Sadly, though, instead it's about as useful as a deck of flash cards.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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