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Tuesday 26 November 2013

Kana Karate Review - Fun way to learn languages

Kana Karate from Aztecbyte is an educational game for people who want to learn English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French, Italian vocabulary and especially the Japanese writing system. The system itself is complicated - there is Hiragana and Katakana (together called Kana) and Kanji. Learning it is all about drill. There's plenty of apps that can help you learn it, but I can say that this one is definitely the most fun!

In Kana Karate you play a karate fighter trying to defeat his opponents. But you don't press up, down, left, right, punch and kick - you have to match the English word to its foreign counterpart or kana to its romaji (i.e. roman letters equivalent). Each successful answer will land a hit. Wrong answer and your opponent hits you.

Since Typing of the Dead I have never seen such a mundane task turned into so much fun. The learning is designed so well you won't even notice you are learning. Just start in the training dojo and give it a try. I think it's better if you have some basic knowledge first, but even with zero knowledge after some time on the wooden doll, you will get into it and learn enough to go to the main game.

Fear the power of my empty fist! I managed to break the doll. Awesome. Let's see how will I do in the tournament.

There are many opponents to choose from. Each opponent has special skills which means more vocabulary or kana. The easiest opponent will go down after just a few successful hits, but they get tougher and tougher as you progress. The game very intelligently adds more and more kana and vocabulary. It's like having flashcards that are actually fun to use. The learning progress is tracked by XP points and karate belt system.

Each opponents has its own detailed graphics and set of moves - they each fight with a different martial art. Such variety is almost unheard of in learning apps. And it definitely makes it look better and it keeps you engaged. The music is good as well, even though it can get a little bit distracting sometimes.

The great thing about this game is that sometimes you get your ass (or face) kicked, but it only makes you go back for a rematch and try to defeat the opponent - learning more in the process.


Kana Karate is one of the best Hiragana and Katakana learning apps in the store, if not the best. Definitely the most fun. If you have ever thought of learning Japanese give this app a try. The Hiragana and Katakana dictionaries are free and I can recommend purchasing the other packages as well. The way this game teaches takes advantage of the fun factor and it really does great job.

So if you ever wanted to learn Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji or one of the included languages get Kana Karate from the Google Play store!

Martin Varga is a Czech software developer who likes pygmy owls (hence Kulíš), running, ramen, travelling and living in foreign countries. He is also known as smartus or sm4 on the internet (read as smartass, but there are too many of them). He currently tries to make games in AndEngine like Mr. Dandelion's Adventures and hangs around a lot at the AndEngine forums.