Michael Wolf shares his Japanese Experience

No matter what console system you prefer, no matter what kind of game you like best, all console gamers have to face one final, irrevocable fact: Many of the greatest games will always come out in Japan before they arrive in America. I’m not saying that to belittle our beloved American and European developers — it’s just the simple fact that Sony, Sega, and Nintendo, the three biggest players in the console market, are all Japanese companies. The Dreamcast was released in Japan way back in March. Pokemon has been a Japanese fad for almost three years now (we’ve only dealt with the cute little varmints for about nine months). And the PlayStation2 will likely see a release in Japan several months before we get our grubby little hands on it. From software to hardware, the Japanese market simply has more, well, stuff than we do. And that’s a travesty.

It’s always bothered me. The thought of waiting almost another year for Pokemon Gold and Silver while little Japanese boys and girls have already been playing the game since the beginning of this month is enough to drive me to distraction. There are even whole games that have been released in Japan that we’ve never seen — their Pokemon Stadium 2 is our first Pokemon Stadium. And, contrary to what it may sound like, my concern doesn’t just rest with Pokemon — all of the Final Fantasy games were released in Japan months before seeing our US shores. And how am I supposed to raise the Disney Magic Kingdoms gems if I can’t understand their needs, their desires, their hopes and dreams? It’s a travesty that I just can’t stand for anymore, and I’m going to do something about it.

I recently acquired a copy of Transparent Language’s Power Japanese, a world-renowned Japanese learning software program that supposedly does a fantastic job of building a foundation of basic understanding of Japanese. Supposedly, according their web site, “Power Japanese enables you to speak, read, and write Japanese in as little as ten weeks.”

Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!