Ni No Kuni

    screenshot of the ni no kuni title screen

    In addition to textbooks and websites, video games can also be a great way to practice your language skills. They aren't static like most traditional language-learning resources, and have an element of real-time challenge that keeps learners engaged. A great example of this is a game called Ni No Kuni, which is a JRPG for the PS3. It's made by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, and published by Namco Bandai. It's basically like playing through a Studio Ghibli movie. Since the game includes the original Japanese language track, you can use that for your Japanese studies, depending on your level. Also, Mr. Drippy (the little fairy that follows you around) speaks in Kansai dialect, which may be useful for anyone looking to study other dialects of Japanese.

    One issue is that the English subtitles (which can't be turned off, unfortunately) are not direct translations of the Japanese audio. This can be kind of goofy (or fun) when you're playing along listening to the Japanese and reading the English and realizing that they don't really match up. It's kind of entertaining to pick these out and think about how you might have translated them in your head as you're playing along, assuming you don't get too distracted from the game itself, of course.

    If practicing your listening skills through video games is your forte, then I recommend you go and get yourself a copy of this game. Its fun-factor and Ghibli-like design are perfect for keeping learners motivated and engaged with Japanese. You can also read the full Tofugu review here for a more in-depth analysis of the game.

    Playstation 4
    Nintendo Switch