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Items of Import: Let's RPG - More Words To Learn!

Sachi Coxon

So you've mastered a variety of words to get your import RPG on. You've managed to attack some nefarious evil-doers; cast some magic to heal your party; perhaps you've even worn some new equipment. On top of all that, you were able to save your precious progress!

"Hey, I can do this! Easy peasy Japanesey!" I hear you say. Oh, young grasshopper -- you have much to learn. To be precise, you've another five new words to master. By nature, RPGs are undoubtedly the most text-heavy of all game genres. With its epic narrative detailing a world and its characters, and a menu screen chock full of words describing important stats and what-have-you, there are rarely moments in an RPG one does not look at text.

The challenge of an imported RPG of course comes from the fact that these thousands, if not millions, of words are in Japanese. BUT! Yes, there's a "but." For us as gamers, overcoming challenge is in our blood! And oftentimes, we are used to RPGs in English, so that even in Japanese, we sort of "get it," you know? Nevertheless, knowing what's what for sure always helps, and Items of Import is here for you once again to expand your Japanese RPG vocabulary.

1. Defend

You're in a difficult battle -- in fact, you're about to lose it, but you just need a couple of rounds defending your party members to help them heal up. You just can't seem to figure out where that damn "defend" menu is, aargh!!

As you can see from the text image on the right, "defend" has two variations that differ from game to game. The top one and the middle word are one and the same. However, players are more likely to come across the hiragana variant in an RPG, especially on a handheld with a small screen. Also, depending on the demographic of an RPG title, the developers may opt for the more complex kanji version of "defend."

2. Flee

There are those times when you're engaged in the most furiously frustrating of fights, you simply need to run away. There's nothing more you can do. No special attack will suffice, and there's nothing in your mana pool to cast that devastating spell. The time comes, dear gamer, when you realize that the only thing left for you to do honorably is to simply walk away, grind awhile, and return.

As can be seen from the Japanese for "flee," nigeru, I have only written up the simple hiragana font for this word. Sure, there is of course a kanji script for it. But for reasons that can only be described as "tradition," RPGs in Japan have always stuck to the 8-bitty form of the word. So wary adventurers, look out for this word when troubled by death-defying monsters.

Items of Import is a fortnightly column dedicated to titles only out in Japan. With in-depth impressions of games long before localization and knowledgeable language how-tos, it attempts to bridge the gap between the import savvy and import fearing. Come on, now! You, too, can make that giant leap! Yokoso!

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