SHUJINKOU is an action JRPG that interweaves Japanese language learning into the story and mechanics while maintaining its appeal to gamers. It is currently being developed for the PC/Mac, and development is also targeting the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.
A world where the Japanese language is the universal language has become a world filled with chaos due to the appearance of the Hasseiki (ハッセイキ), mysterious portals that produce Demons that are erasing the Japanese language at an alarming rate. Shu, Jin, and Kou come to meet in what seems like an inevitable fate, and attempt to recover Japanese before the world’s language disappears forever.
The aim is to streamline the gameplay as much as possible, taking the instincts and quick reactions that gamers have and thoroughly integrating Japanese into metroidvania style gameplay. We’ve highlighted five core mechanics that make Shujinkou feel like an RPG.
Wield 5-6 different hiragana, katakana, or kanji per level and use them to strike the weaknesses of the Demons that lie in your way.
Collect all the pieces to these artifacts found in each level to recover adjectives that can be used to alter the level's environment.
Use verbs as skills to buff your player and debuff enemies. The effect of the skill depends on the semantic meaning of the respective verbs.
Check out sign boards that provide hints about enemies commonly found in each area, as well as tips to find out the locations of hidden secrets.
While battling bosses, answer realtime questions that cover both the Japanese language and ethical questions that will affect the outcome of the plot.
When 'Calamity Time' activates, demons, the level, and your kana and kanji change in various ways. Your sight is also limited, and enemies deal more damage.
Minigames cover one component of Japanese and contain a very in-depth progression system that, when cleared successfully, results in players learning Japanese and also further developing their bonds with the character in charge of the minigame. There are four minigames currently in development, but we have the designs set for even more! The more funding we get, the more content we can develop for these minigames!
- Radical Hunter: Learn Radicals with Hina! Pop the balloons that correspond with the currently selected ammo. The balloons can be in hiragana, katakana, romaji, English, or an icon depending on the difficulty, and there are both single player and multiplayer modes.
- Number Racer: Learn Numbers! Hit the green boosters that have the higher numerical values to get boosts and avoid the red boosters. Play in Time Attack mode or race other familiar faces and use various items that have their strengths determined by the value of the numbers!
- Kendama Kombo: Learn Counter Words! Fight in a one on one battle of speed and wits where the player must press the correct counter words that match the icons given by the dealer. Be faster than your opponent and strike with your kendama before you get struck!
- Ijigen Wayfarers: Learn Grammar with Kiyo! Explore areas in the game in 3D and fight turn-based battles against familiar enemies, but use grammatical components as skills to defeat them and proceed! Find new treasurers and solve puzzles within the 3D world to survive!
- And more… (verb conjugation, intonation, Japanese last names, particles, etc.).
Strengthening Bonds while Learning Japanese
To immerse players into the world of Shujinkou, players will be able to communicate and strengthen their bonds with plenty of side characters and demons throughout Shu, Jin, and Kou’s quest to prevent the loss of the Japanese language. We’ve highlighted three core mechanics that make Shujinkou more than just another RPG.
Learn more and strengthen your bonds by interacting with various side characters in the game. The KIZUNA system signifies how strong your bond is with a character, whereas the ISHI system gives you a taste of how a character feels during specific points during the plot.
Complete quests and tasks assigned by different characters not only to reap the rewards and strengthen your bonds, but to also find hidden secrets and areas in the world of Shujinkou.
Purchase and drink various alcoholic drinks and Japanese pub food to not only gain buffs and an advantage in the minigames, but also learn the history, facts, and language behind these items.
... and more!
We have three amazing composers with different specialties who have already produced amazing tracks for Shujinkou. We already have some tracks ready for listening - check out traditional Japanese, jazz rock fusion, classical with vocals, and a chill rock tracks below:
Traditional Japanese (with a hint of Oni~ )
Jazz / Rock Fusion (with a live Sax player!)
Classical (with vocals!)
Chill Rock (with various instrument solos!)
Meet the SHUJINKOU Team
... and more to join, hopefully!
Press & Media (Selected Quotes & Articles)
- “I could tell, from playing this game, that this a game that is seriously trying to teach the player Japanese.” Dengeki Online (まさん, Tokyo Game Show 2019) https://dengekionline.com/articles/12348/
- “There have been plenty of games that aim to teach players new languages, but they're almost always edutainment-style experiences. Shujinkou is taking the action-RPG route, which is definitely brave of the development team to try.” GoNintendo https://www.gonintendo.com/stories/344430-shujinkou-debut-trailer-released-kickstarter-launching-in-oct-2
- “It looks really interesting! I love the concept and maybe it will help me with my Japanese studies” GameReactor (Andreas Juul, Tokyo Game Show 2019) https://www.gamereactor.eu/video/467703/Shujinkou+Julian+M+Rice+Interview/
- "From his self-introduction, we can see that Julian’s experience proves that he definitely isn’t someone that who is just ‘playing around" YYSTV (栓子, April 2019) https://www.yystv.cn/p/4994
- RPGamer (Ryan Radcliff) - https://rpgamer.com/2019/09/language-learning-rpg-shujinkou-announced/
- Good News: Various Japanese gamers and developers who attended the 2019 Tokyo Game Show, including people who work at Nintendo, Sony, Konami, Aksys Games, and Nikkei, have commented on the gameplay, saying that it was 'fresh' and very fun to play, despite having complete command of Japanese (natives).
Social Media & Contact
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/RiceGamesOfficial
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/RiceGames_
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rice.games/
- Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/shujinkou
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/18284478
- General Inquiries: Email us at email@example.com
- Special Inquiries: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
How money will be used
- Art: Spent on animations (using SPINE), backgrounds, enemies, UI, CGs, and more.
- Programming: Paying developers and covering Unity Plus fees. Will also cover website hosting costs, Nintendo Switch Dev Kit (stretch), licenses with Sony / Nintendo (stretch), etc.
- Music: More realistic libraries, better instruments, more dynamic music, more live recorded instruments used for tracks.
- Business: Advertisements on social media and game news sites, sponsored blog posts and articles, attending game shows, other required software, etc.
- Kickstarter Fee: 5% of total funds + 3% + $0.20 per pledge (over $10) for a total of roughly 8-10% being taken from the overall total.
- (Stretch) Localization: Localizing the text into different languages, like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and more.
- (Stretch) Voice Acting: Adding Japanese and English voice acting to the game for both story elements and learning elements.
- (Potential Stretch) Manufacturing: Making clear file folders, T shirts, physical copies of the game, OST, and art book, etc.
Current Development Status
The development process for Shujinkou is split into 3 stages:  System Development  Content Production  Polish & Finalization. Right now, we are making progress with Step 1, or System Development. Once Step 1 is complete, we will be able to quickly produce content and scaling should not be a problem. The majority of the funds will be spent on Step 2, or Content Production. Finally, we will have plenty of playtesting and special bonuses added to the game during Step 3 with the remaining funds we have.
We have worked very hard over the last 10 months with under $3000 to bring Shujinkou up to what you see here on this page. After seeing the demand for this kind of game on Reddit, friends and families, as well as podcasters and all kinds of different people at the 2019 Tokyo Game Show, it makes perfect sense for us to ask for YOUR help to turn everyone’s not so distant dream into a reality. By diving in with more brains, hands, and energy, Shujinkou will level up and fulfill the urge that millions have to really learn and understand Japanese.
Why is the game called Shujinkou?
Shujinkou (主人公, しゅじんこう) means main protagonist, or hero. When I (Julian) was thinking about the word before development started, I realized that there was a potential play on words that could be made. Each kanji has their own respective meaning, and by taking each kanji character that makes up Shujinkou (Shu means 'main', Jin means 'person', and Kou means 'public' or 'prince/princess'), developing a backstory and personality for each one and having them venture on a quest that will change they think and see the world was what drove this idea into a reality. We hope that you put yourselves in each of these heroes' shoes (and every other character too!) as you adventure through a story that is not just about recovering Japanese and saving the world, but also how much of an effect your decisions can have on the others and the world!
Bonus Content: Sketches & Concept Art
Risks and challenges
With Rice Games being a completely virtual company at the moment, there are obvious worries that things might die down or the team might dissipate. However, we have already been doing this for a year now and have only worked harder with each consecutive month. Most of the core systems are done, and we need the funds to help push content creation forward so that you receive a game that is filled to the brim with content.
Note that we will supply 1-2 update videos that show development progress each month, and will answer questions and concerns that backers may have both through email and social media!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!