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So, i've been playing sfa on and off for about two years now. I downloaded it a long time ago, and can't remember if i actually bought it or if it was free back then. (i'm on build 165). Anyhoo, I finally got past the castle on Kabu, went to Cots Whee and Honey Kamey and got a mattock and a dog. Where am I supposed to go from here? Picture of stats attached.
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You need to get the armour from the next island.

Usually the idea is to skip Cots Whee and go straight to Honey Kamey, then do what you need to do on Honey Kamey with the dog to get the 'key to the world' for the next island. Get the armour from there. THEN, with this improved armour, go back to Cots Whee to get the Mattock.

It must have been rather tough getting the Mattock on the Cots Whee island without having the appropriate armour to sustain the damage! Well done though! :P

After you've done Honey Kamey and also the island with the armour, then you just have one final dungeon to do to reach the end of the story. ^^

Level: 32
Words: 1065 / 1065
Verb Forms: 507 / 507
Grammar Forms: 455 / 455

I can confirm these are the final end-game stats for "Original Easy Mode" game mode. (As of build 189.)

(Click the image to view the screenshot full-size.)

So, it turned out that in my other post where I was at 1025 words I was actually close very close to reaching the end of the "words" slimes. I was surprised to find that the "verbs forms" and "grammar form" slimes actually exist too in this mode. I thought those lines on the status window were there by mistake or something.

I was also surprised that it went on for more than 4 episodes. I fully expected episodes 5-8, which were added to the main story mode relatively recently, wouldn't have also been put in this old game mode. A bit like how Hard Mode sotry modes stop at episode 4 (or maybe these don't either anymore?)

I had a lot of fun playing this game mode. In my opinion, I don't think "Original Easy Mode" should be relegated to being listed under the "Miscellaneous" heading. It's a very neat mode for drilling
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I wonder what the final end-game stats are for the "Original Easy Mode" game. I definitely haven't seen anyone post anything about it. I might be able to claim to be the first to complete it if I ever reach the end. ^^

So far I'm level 30 and up to 1,025 words. Just finished the blacksmith's quests on Ytlin island and about to start its cave.

Anyone else playing/played any of the other game modes instead of just playing the main standard story mode?
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Level: 143
Kanji: 1972 / 1972
Readings: 1972 / 1972
Words: 1385 / 1385
Compounds: 1399 / 1399

For who might have been wondering, I can confirm that these are the final end-game stats for the standard story "Standard (no kana)" game mode.

(Click the image to view the screenshot full-size.)

Build 189 has fixed an annoying issue where under some circumstances learned slimes might not be recorded in the stats. This affected my main save quite badly, where for me it was taking many many hours for the game to give me those slimes it hadn't recorded. I've tested it thoroughly and found this bug to be totally fixed now! Very happy to have finally been able to max out all my stats in this game!

Now, onto the next challenge! On one of my other saves I've been playing the game mode in the "Miscellaneous" section called "Original Easy Mode". I've never got to the end of this mode before. It's a more interesting game mode than it sounds and good for learning lots of vocabulary. I hope to finally clear this mode too now. ^^
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Wow, congratulations mog86uk. I was happy enough with reaching all 1972 kanji myself, but that doesn't hold a candle to your stats. Makes me motivated to get there though.

By the way, where did you get the dog item, and what does it do? I can't recall that from my play-through, although I had never finished off all the optional island quests.
Thanks Drahcir! ^^

I wish I could claim to be the first person to achieve this. However, two years ago an "Anonymous" poster wrote that they'd reached the exact same stats: >>756

Sadly I slacked off. Initially this was because of real life stuff happening around that time. But months later when I badly wanted to get back into playing SFA again, I then had a new problem where I no longer used either of the two Japanese keyboard input methods that the game offered. I'm extremely thankful to Darrell for adding the "custom kanatype" feature. Without this feature I might not have ever managed to get back into the game properly. I was able to use this feature to create the Japanese keyboard layout I use (NICOLA 親指シフト) and have it working in the game. ^^

The dog tool is from episode 5 (Honey Camey island, with the sweets and the dog). Equiping this tool makes forest battles have bluey-grey "compounds" slimes instead of the usual bright-green "kanji" slimes. I think you might have it, judging by what you said back in the following post: >>825

Now that with build 184 the new custom kana keyboard layout feature is working well, I can now use my usual keyboard layout in the game and with barely any problems. Works great! I've been having a lot of fun getting back into this game.

In the last 14 days I've gone from "readings: 318" to "readings: 1000". I'm hoping to complete the readings slimes ("readings: 1972") by the end of this month (June). Just writing this here to challenge myself to keep to this goal. ^^
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I think I'm going to have to set a more extreme goal. In less than ten days I've increased my "readings" stat by over 800. Not even half-way through the month and I've almost completed the challenge I set myself! I thought it was going to be a lot tougher (or at least that I wouldn't find it as fun as I have). ^^

New goal: complete both "readings" and "compounds" by the end of this month (June).

Bearing in mind my "compounds" stat is currently on "54", and I think there are a total of 1399 compounds to learn in the game, this should be a very difficult goal to reach in time. Only 18 days to do the last 100 readings and 1345 compounds. Can't back out of it now I've written it here. Let's see how this goes. :P
End of the month. I still have a couple of hours left, but there seems to be a bug inhibiting the appearance of final few "readings" and "compounds". Really annoying. It was a couple of days ago that I reached the point where new readings and compounds slimes stopped being given. But, even with the bug, if I keep playing for hours the stat sometimes increases by one or two. So I might get there eventually, but could take a whole extra month at this rate!

Anyway, here are my current stats (as seen in my screenshot to the left) -

Kanji: 1972 / 1972
Readings: 1952 / 1972
Words: 1385 / 1385
Compounds: 1362 / 1399(?)

I still have two more hours before the end of the month. Two hours would be enough time to finish the rest of the remaining readings and compounds if the bug were to suddenly go away.

Anyone have any ideas of what might be preventing the remaining slimes appearing? I already tried toggling the "Training Focus" and "New Before Review" settings, even thought they should have absolutely no effect, and it didn't change anything.

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Two hours of alternating between readings and compounds slimes later... New screenshot!

In case it's hard to see what changed in those two hours, readings stat went up from 1952 to 1953. ^^

I've had no luck at all the two days since I reached compounds 1362 at making the stat increase. So I'm going to assume this might actually be the max number (although I saw a post elsewhere in this channel which said it is 1399 instead).

If it takes an hour for each +1 increase of the readings stat, I'm going to have to keep drilling readings slimes for another 19 hours to finish the last 19 readings! ^^;

Anyone managed to learn or use any spells yet?

I finished the first elemental island (desert island) testing area, and I think it said I learnt a spell, however I accidentally clicked off the message before I had finished reading it, so I'm not sure if it actually said this.

I tried to see if I had a new spell to cast, but just it says "don't have any spells prepared". Using the "book" on the world map still says "pages are blank" too. I'm not sure what this means, but I guess maybe I haven't actually learnt any spells yet after all?

I'm now at the second elemental island trying to clear its testing area. I think I've learnt all the special readings for this cave (220 'words'), but haven't been successful clearing it without running out of HP. These tesing areas are pretty challenging! If I ever manage to clear it, I'll be a lot more careful to see what it says this time. ^^;
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The elemental island caves seem very unfair, the high rate of attack and heavy damage. I had thoroughly trained for it, I knew every answer almost immediately, however I still struggled and failed several times just trying to type fast enough. The "Battle Typing Rate" setting seemed to have no effect. I almost wonder if it would be difficult to complete even if this was in English!?

I did manage to clear it eventually though. Definitely said I learnt a spell (different spell name to the one learnt on the first island), but still says "No spells prepared" and "The pages are blank".

One other thing: With training focus set to "focus training on next cave", it stopped introducing new words once I reached 220 "words", however I ran into 時 (とき) each time I did the cave fight. After I had cleared the cave, the first fight immediately afterwards introduced 時 for the first time...
Ah, I've noticed how to cast the spells now. I had tried doing what you need to do before, but it just didn't seem like anything was happening. ^^;

Onward to the next elemental island! (Also, I'm guessing there are going to be 7 spells in total?) :D
how do you do it? i don't get it yet
Have you completed the cave on the first elemental island yet? Where you up to in the game?
yeah, i cleared it.
and sorry i was reading back on this server and i found the answer somewhere back there.
thanks for answering, tho

Technology making Slime Forest outdated?

I ask because of the vast improvements over written character recognition over the last few years. It seems even without knowing the proper stroke order, one could easily look up one of the thousands of characters and be able to find a dictionary entry for it as well as the compounds. Truly LRNJ helps with the katakana and hiragana recognition but do we really need it for the other characters, the kanji? There are an awful lot of them and we maybe we are wasting our time with trying to memorize all these characters instead of learning them in context. Thanks to recent developments in handwriting technology, we may be able to easily find these characters when reading some text and then we would also be learning these words in context.

What are your thoughts?
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>Recent developments in handwriting technology
SF does teach the kanji in context, at least if you fight the sea slimes. Memorizing kanji isn't supposed to be the only thing it does.
I don't think it's like that, it's a lot more fun than cue cards or books, and rewarding in ways that any typical language teacher would have a hard time reproducing.

If I hadn't come to the game knowing all my hiragana and katakana, it would have been cool to learn the basics this way, too.
depends on what ur trying to learn them for
if you want to live in japan, or already do, then sfa is great

Hey Mog, I've been lurking on this website on and off as i played through the game and check in for updates and stuff over the past three or so years.

I just wanted to say, cause i assume no one really has on here, that you're awesome! Despite not being specifically affiliated with this game you're always on here to help anyone who needs it and share your knowledge, all because you like this game and feel it helped you. You're a seriously kind person and i just wanted to let you know that at least one person has noticed it after all these years. You're like basically the one reason this place still looks active after all this time.

Thanks for being so dang cool and i hope you have an awesome day!
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Ah, great to hear. Nice to know that something I wrote is actual useful to someone.

Now that I know that it's working, I can begin making the improvements. I have a solution for the English typing. If I'm lucky, there won't be any further changes needed on your end, otherwise you might need to use one of the lock keys to enable regular typing. I probably would go with Scroll Lock as that's the least used, but since you'll be using it, let me know if you have a preference. Nowadays, I know that some laptop keyboards lack a Scroll Lock button.

If the first method works though, that should also fix the third issue too, with the additions of commas and the like. If not, I'll just add those to the filtered keys.

I had thought that there might be further issues with the kana translating. I had sort of rushed this part at the time.

This could be a bit difficult now that I think about it. Not in a position where I can test right now, but when a slime's answer is in katakana, can the answer be typed exactly how it would be if it was in romaji? I'm thinking not as I recall you need to type double 'n' of 'ん', or would the game accept it anyway?

I do some testing once I get home. Might need another lock key to switch between the type of slime you're facing. In a later release, could be interesting in having it look at memory and having this switch done automatically but that could become quite complex.
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Well, looks like I got lucky. Regular Latin characters will work just fine now. You'll just need to switch to alphanumeric input (or half-width alphanumeric) to use them. I suspect just like Microsoft's IME, DvorakJ has a keyboard shortcut to switch between types.

Since it was easy to add, you can also switch to Katakana as an input method, rather than just Hiragana, although half-width katakana won't work. If you turn on conversion, you could probably use to it write English words too, rather than switching back to alphanumeric.

I've fixed up those kana inputs, now using what Slime Forest expects. The only trouble with with 'ん'. In order to get it to work on regular (non-katakana input) slimes, it'll now only enter a single 'n'. So for katakana input ones, you'll need to press it twice, although if the 'ん' is at the end of the answer, Slime Forest will accept the single 'n'.

You shouldn't be seeing any extra commas and the like now, so you can continue using DvorakJ.

So with this version, don't believe you'll face any further issues, but if not, let me know. Anything further should be a simple fix.

Just like before, just unzip the DLLs to your Slime Forest folder.
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Just realized that I can fix the 'ん' issue by switching the code to use kana typing, rather than romaji as it does now.

Probably will have another release in 48 hours or so.
The kana touch typing version is finished. Just ensure that Slime Forest's is set to use kana input to make use it. It should fix the double ん problem, however it's possible that it may introduce its own problems due to way Windows' input is provided. In your setup, I have a hunch that it may work better than the romaji version.

Unlike that version though, you won't be able to use kana input while fighting the hiragana/katakana training slimes. You'll need to switch back over to alphanumeric, but I suppose that's how Darrell meant for them to be defeated anyway.

Just realised something while writing this. On a Dvorak keyboard, is the kana in the same positions as a QWERTY one? If not, try changing Slime Forest's keyboard settings to QWERTY.
@Drahcir, Sorry I'm taking so long to get back to you. I've been having a tough time trying to work out if there's a correct setup I can use to make the newest version of your NICOLA translator work well for me.

I've come across problems and also you were right that there might be new problems in this new version.

The main bug I'm aware off that has arisen in your new version is that typing either ま and み results in ホ being output in the game (even if you enter them via romaji input, "ma" and "mi"). All other kana seem to be okay.

Another issue I've noticed, in all three versions of your translator so far, is that the number row keys (1234567890) are not functional. The numbers aren't strictly necessary while playing, and the numpad numbers still work fine. However, this is still a big problem because it seems to be impossible to resize the game window without these number row keys.

- - -

And the main thing I've been concerned about: "no conversion" doesn't work very well with Microsoft IME input method set to "kana input". Unlike "romaji input", there's a problem whenever you type an unvoiced kana which has a voiced counterpart.

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Hey Mog, Sorry for my late reply this time. Been on a holiday for a week.

Yeah, I shortly realized that I had a few issues in my previous releases, making it unusable for a few things. I completely overlooked the resizing in particular as it's something I've never personally made use of.

I believe that these can all be fixed though, provided that you're still willing to test it. I would like to do the testing myself but as mentioned, I was unable to emulate the setup you're using.

However, I recently got a release e-mail from Darrel which states the newer version has support for other keyboard layouts. I suspect he's seen your issue. Although he mentions that it's primitive for now, it's likely to work better overall then my modification which is sort of hacky (ugly) due to the nature of it.

Give it a try with your layout and see how well it works for you. I'll still be keen on continuing my version if you're still keen on testing it, but I won't be as active with it as before as I have a bunch of work to catch up on for the time being.
@Drahcir Thanks again for your efforts.

You're right. The new version of SFA (build 179) has made it possible to create a custom kana layout very similar to NICOLA thumb shift layout.

The one and only aspect where it falls short is that it requires you to HOLD DOWN the shift keys BEFORE pressing the finger key.

Real thumb-shift works by TAPPING the thumb keys IN SYNC with the finger keys. You have a sync window which can usually be configured. I've set my thumb-finger sync window to 35 milliseconds. The aim is to try to tap the thumb and finger keys perfectly sync; but if a thumb or finger key is tapped on its own, then it waits 35 ms to see if a finger/thumb key will be pressed with it before outputting the result.

So the way the custom kana layout has been implemented in the game won't be possible to type as fast as proper thumb-shift. But it's still very decent in every other respect. I'm sure I can get used to it. All my keys are working perfectly.

If you wanted to try out thumb-shift, I've uploaded my jquest\playerdata\kanakey.txt file to pastebin. Just make a copy of the original somewhere then replace the contents with mine. ^^

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If anyone else is interesed a made a webpage to drill kanji in the same order as SLA uses.
I made this so I can do some practice at work.
My latest addition is to support just pressing the number corresponding to the correct word. It also supports touch when using it on a phone.
I was a bit worried about making this as the descriptions are copy right of Darrel, but he didn't seem to mind.
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Hey, very nice. I'd been keen on using it.

I was planning to write something like this myself. Thought of a program that would pop up with some random kanji every hour or so, for use at work, but since you've already finished it, I'll just make use of yours.


Very nice to see an update! Sadly I still haven't figured out a good solution to my keyboard layout dilemma, so I can't use it too well at all. But it makes me happy to see this excellent game still being worked on. ^^

The new multiple Japanese font style system is an interesting addition. I already got caught out by the kanji for "person", where I absentmindedly typed "enter" by accident. :D
I thought there would probably be a setting to turn it back to single font, but there isn't. I like this at my stage in learning Japanese, but I wonder whether or not it will go down well with beginners.

I got the mailing list email about this update, then came to the site, but I notice the members page still shows the update as being "build 175" and "New version on: November 6, 2017". I downloaded it anyway and it turned out to be build 176. Maybe some people will hesitate to download this update until the page says 176 though?

I hope the restarted mailing list brings some more people back to this site. ^^
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It is indeed great to see this is still alive. Different fonts, that is going to be interesting. I noticed in the past that I was rather sensitive to the font used.

Time brush up on my Kanji skills.
I've decided at last to go through the painful unlearning process of reverting from NICOLA Oyayubi Shift kana key layout back to the kana layout used in Slime Forest (JIS Kana key layout). At least as a temporary measure, until I can figure out how to get oyayubi shift working ingame. Been so long, but now hopefully I'll be able to resume my save in this awesome game. ^^


I have a permanent registration from way back in 2004 for this game, and I'd like to pick it back up. I've changed name since then, but I still control and can read emails at the email address used for the registration from back then. I also still have the original PayPal receipt and confirmation from Darrell that I was registered.

How can I go about transferring this old membership to the current site?

How should I go about doing this?
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I just found the "Claim Your Previous Registration" section and it worked perfectly. Sorry about that!

Nice to see it still works with registrations that old, though. :D
Haha, that is impressive after 13-14 years. What was it that reminded you of this game to think about coming back to it after so long?

Hope you have a good time back on this game. ^^

why is 倍 fold as in folding a bedsheet according to the menmonic?

jisho says it should be double or times, or fold as in a 2 fold increase in quantity. no other word works either
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Most likely that it was simply the easiest way to associate any kind of "fold" with that kanji. Both the English words "fold" as in folds of cloth and "fold" as in twofold share the same origin anyway.

I hadn't properly memorised 倍 before I began playing Slime Forest. I remember this mnemonic did actually help me quite a bit to memorise it. I almost think that because it was talking about bedsheets kind of fold, that it made me notice this mnemonic more because it made me wonder why on earth it was talking about the verb fold. :D

However, I'm not sure if the game makes it clear that the word "fold" associated with this kanji actually means as in twofold, threefold,...?

I understood immediately because I'd encountered ばい (倍) in Japanese before I started Slime Forest. But people completely new to Japanese might never have seen how this kanji is used to be able to realise that 倍 isn't to do with folding bedsheets or paper. Maybe it would be better if this were noted at the end of the mnemonic (if it's not already)? ^^

> Monday, November 6

> The last few builds have just been to fix a problem with how the game starts in Mac OS X Sierra / High Sierra. The way it is now isn't ideal, but it's possible for people to play, and it's quite awkward without a modern Mac to test on, so I think I'll leave it at that for now.

> Working now on a port to SDL 2, which should fix some performance and compatibility problems, and is something I had better get out of the way before adding features.

Very exciting news to hear that the game is in the process of being ported to SDL2!

Among other things, there's a good chance it might help make things easier for me to deal with issues I have with my complicated keyboard setup. I've barely played the game since I switched keyboard layouts a year ago. ^^;

Also very curious about what "adding features" could possibly mean~ ^^
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I just bought the common version. I am on macOS Sierra 10.12.1 and no way to open it.

When I click on the .app, no error message will display but nothing is happening.

Is there any way to fix it ? Thank you.
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Well, I hope someone will be able to answer your question. I've only used Windows and Linux, so I don't really have any idea what the problem might be.

I don't know if this could even possibly be it, but did you definitely download "install" .zip file rather than the "update" .dmg file? I don't know anything about Macs, but just wondering if it could be possible that you installed the "update" on its own without ever having installed the full thing beforehand.

Other long-shot idea, if you updated from the free version to the common-use version, then maybe there's a problem with this and could instead try installing the full common-use "install" file without doing any updating instead.

Hope a Mac user or Darrell might see your question, as I doubt it's likely either of my ideas were anything to do with your problem. Good luck. ^^;
Oh, I was also wondering...

Does the free version of build 168 work for you on Mac? Is it only the common-use version that doesn't work or do both behave the same way?

If you haven't tried the free version of build 168 before, you can get it on the following page:
No it's not these reasons. I downloaded the full common version directly but it didn't work. Tried to download free then update it but nothing. The free version don't work too.

I really want to play it on my mac but I really can't make it work...
Wish I could help, but I really know nothing at all about Macs.

One last thing I've noticed though... There is a very good chance that the Mac version of build 168 might have an issue preventing it working on Mac. One of the changes in the changelog for build 168 says "fixed OS X launcher to work with latest versions of OS X". There could well be an accidental fault with this fix, stopping the game from being able to launch. This is just a complete guess though.

I don't know of any other Mac users who are currently active posters on this site. You might even be the first person to have tried build 168 on Mac.

I think your best bet might be to try emailing Darrell about it. He may not reply on this channel too often but he usually is very quick to reply to emails:
I see Darrell has released build 169 today, where the changelog for it simply says "another fix for the OS X launcher". ^^

Is your problem fixed now?
I have a mac and had the same trouble. What you can do, however, is download the file and right-click on the slime icon, clicking on "show package contents". That should take you to a folder called "contents". Open it to find a folder called "MacOS". Open this to find a block entitled "Slime Forest". If you open this you should be able to get into the game. I hope this helps!

Ooh. I check this site every day, but have only just noticed a new build was released last weekend (build 170).

Is there a difference between builds 169 and 170 for people who are full "common use kanji" version users?
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Quick question, does the game end once you get the world key for Puyo Gem and talk to the girl? I finished the 1972 kanji but I want to double check to see if I'm missing something.
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Haven't finished all of it yet.

The game has a few side quests which I haven't yet started. At the moment, I'm just killing kanji slimes for reinforcement, however I feel I'm actually pretty decent at them now so I'll be looking at starting those side quests soon.

Outside of the game, I've been reading Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide.
I really like some of Slime Forest's side games.

The first one I got really interested in a few years ago was "Storyless: Kana Touchtyping". This teaches the standard "JIS Kana" key layout you see printed on keyboards in Japan. This way of typing kana isn't even that common in Japan, as most people use romaji input to type kana instead. I don't know if I'd recommend switching your Japanese input mode to kana input like I did, but this side game should be a fun challenge and will give a feel what the layout is like.

On to something much more useful, the three grammar related side games are really nice!! I've found these a lot of fun and very helpful. I'd do it in this order: "Text Entry Grammar", then "Verb Forms", and then if you want a real challenge which even contains questions related to classical Japanese grammar try the very thorough "Grammar Patterns".

Lastly, the "Original Easy Mode" side game is very cool. Unlike the other side game modes, this one actually takes you through the first part of the story rather than an endless forest mode. Instead of kanji, you are tested on vocabulary written in hiragana. This is more interesting than it sounds. The vocabulary is grouped into themes such as colours, dimensions, adverbs, etc. I think it's a nice random selection of words it teaches.

At the very least, I definitely recommend checking out the grammar ones. If you've used a bit of Tae Kim's guide, you should be able to get the hang of them. ^^
I'll have to check those out. I've looked at a few of the other game modes, mostly for kana training, but haven't yet tried the other ones.

Been meaning to ask you mog86uk, as you seem very knowledge at all things Japanese, how fluent are you?

As JIS Kana isn't very common even in Japan, it's something that I don't plan on learning until much later, only after once I can master a basic conversation. Not saying that it can't be useful, but I feel that at my level, there's a lot more important things to learn first.

Because you're learning it, I get the impression that you've mastered the language, or at least close to it. Is that accurate, and if so, how long have you been learning roughly?
Yeah, it's certainly not necessary at all to try out learning kana keyboard layout. I simply started it because I already had a strong interest in keyboard layouts and other computery stuff. I liked the feel of typing directly into kana. I also liked the idea of removing any need to think in romaji when typing, to help get used to thinking of kana and their sounds directly without picturing any romanisation spellings, so that I could get a bet feel for Japanese pronunciation and sentence rhythm. It wasn't because I'd reached an advanced level or had nothing more important to learn--it was just sheer curiosity. :P
I'd say I'm not "fluent" at all! People interpret the word "fluent" differently. For me, "fluent in Japanese" would mean: being able to read, listen, write, draw, and speak Japanese like a free flowing river--able to get my point across or understand others without any effort or hindrance--just flows out naturally. I'm definitely not at that stage, nor anywhere near it.

I can read hiragana and katakana as easily as reading the English alphabet. I can recognise a few thousand kanji, the general meaning and at least one reading of most of these. But that's only reading and typing, not drawing. I've learnt a lot **about** Japanese grammar (even crazy things like classical Japanese grammar), and can comprehend mostly all grammar used in Japanese when reading or listening. However, I'm not so great at knowing what grammar to use when I try to write or speak. I still struggle quite a bit with getting points across when I try to make my own sentences. As I don't live in Japan, only rarely read things that are written in Japanese, don't ever encounter any Japanese people,don't talk to Japanese people online,(...basically, I don't interract with Japanese people), I therefore don't have of a feel of what words/grammar/spellings/etc are common or natural. And my worst skill would be speaking, because I don't really practice speaking in Japanese much at all since I would only be talking to myself.

On the reading end of the spectrum, I don't have to put much effort at all in any more, to the point where I'd say I'm getting near what I'd call fluent. But when it comes to composition and audio-related skills I feel I'm still a long way off. ^^;
I'm 31 and I actually started learning Japanese when I was about 13 (18 years ago)!! I had fully learnt both hiragana and katakana by 15 and had also been learning some basic conversation stuff. But I didn't do a lot else until I got much more interested in Japanese a few years ago.

However, this whole time I've only been learning Japanese for fun. I've never had any Japanese classes; just completely self-taught. I've never had any real purpose for why I'm learning Japanese. I've not been trying to pass any exams or learning in preparation for moving to Japan. I've not been studying Japanese properly in a sensible structured manner. I simply do whatever I find most interesting or fun. Whether that be reading up on classical Japanese grammar before I've even mastered the basics, or drilling a set of 6355 kanji before I've even taken the lowest level of JLPT exams. Most of my "studying" is simply me messing around on game-like sites and apps.

It wouldn't take 18 years to reach the point I'm at. My studying time is more like 4 or 5 years if you take out all the gaps, but you could get much more fluent than me in that time if you focus on the essentials. For me, it's the journey rather than the destination. ^_^;
I see. Similar to myself, I'm learning pretty much for fun. Would love to be bilingual one day and due to their exports, I feel Japanese would be the language I would make the most use of.

零 / / / / / / / / / /