Given the nature of this job, and the fact I make an almost annual pilgrimage to Japan, I've been meaning for a while now to get off my butt and learn more of the local language than simply what I need to order a beer.

Hiragana Pixel Party is just what I needed to knuckle down and get started.

It's a tool for learning the basics of two of Japan's alphabets, yeah, but it comes in the form of a chiptune rhythm-action game, where you need to tap the screen in time with the music (and a little girl running on the screen) while matching the letters presented to you.

Note that it's not a language-learning tool: it's just teaching you the hiragana and katakana alphabets. Still, that's where you need to start when learning Japanese, so starting with chiptunes and a video game is better than starting with a book.

While it gets repetitive in parts, that's also the point: it's trying to hammer home knowledge, not be fun 100% of the time. It's fun, then, around 70% of the time. Which is 70% more than the last time I tried to learn Japanese.

Hiragana Pixel Party [App Store]