First and foremost the experience was designed to be a fun game, which could stand on its own even if the Japanese learning aspect was not present. As a result, focus tests have shown players having fun with the game and picking up letters and sounds, even though they had no prior interest in learning Japanese.
The gaining of knowledge and progression through the game has been intertwined in such a way that players must learn to proceed. Just as in a game of Super Mario players must beat the boss Bowser to move on to the next level, in Hiragana Pixel Party, players must learn sets of characters to move on further in the game.
Within the game a native Japanese speaker reads out the characters as they appear on screen, this is done in time with the games retro flavoured soundtrack. Players must then remember the order the characters were read in, and then tap the correct translated characters in time with the song to enable their in-game avatar to reach the end of the level without dying.
The game is available now as a universal application for iPad and iPhone.
Springloaded is an independent game development venture from James Barnard. Having previously worked as lead designer on projects from companies such as Lucasarts, Sega, Namco and Electronic Arts James has chosen create Springloaded to enable him to focus on making games that showcase innovation and smart design.