Editors' reviewIf you want to learn a bit of written Japanese, the Japanese Kanji Game Pack/The Nihongo Machine Bundle will help. Note that none of the programs pronounces the words. Although you cannot create your own word lists, the package comes with six lists, and registered users can download more from the company's site.
The Nihongo Machine is a standard flash-card and quiz program. The quiz rates your performance on time and number of incorrect answers as well as on correct answers.
The Game Pack features two Japanese vocabulary games. In the first, Kanji Invaders, you destroy each row of invaders by shooting them with the alien defender that has the same meaning as the kanji, switching among defenders with the mouse wheel or with number keys 1 to 5. The visual representation of the defender has no relation to the word's meaning, though, and winning doesn't correspond to learning.
In the second game, Advance, you line up three or more identical tiles to make them disappear. Hovering your mouse above a tile displays information about the associated kanji, and clicking on two tiles switches their position. After each level, you take a quiz. It took some study of the Read Me file and judicious use of the Show Me a Move command, but, once we figured out how to play, Advance was fun and educational. Overall, this is a solid and amusing package for learning kanji.
The Japanese Kanji Game Pack and The Nihongo Machine are the latest creations from Silent Monkey Productions. The Game Pack includes two games for studying Japanese kanji and vocabulary: Kanji Invaders (a Space Invaders-style shooting game) and Advance (a Bejeweled-style puzzle game). The Nihongo Machine is a full-featured, flash-card-based study system. The Nihongo Machine also has a full-featured testing system. Vocabulary lists are interchangeable. The bundle comes with approximately 1,400 target kanji words, including the first 1,000 joyo kanji. Expansion vocabulary sets are available with the second 1,000 joyo kanji and 1,000 newspaper compounds. Combined, our products make up one of the most powerful suites of software for studying Japanese kanji and vocabulary.