From the trainchinese.com people comes a new iOS game where you score by writing characters quickly with correct stroke order. A character will fall from the top of the screen, you tap it to freeze it in the middle of the screen, then you trace over it with correct stroke order as fast as you can. If you make wrong strokes, you get a “wrong” indicator but can keep trying up to the time limit for the word. Fast writing (很快!) will get you double points; really fast (非常快!) will get you triple.
- The app shows the pinyin and an English definition for each character. Due to the speed of the game, you’re not likely to learn totally new characters while playing, but it’s a good reminder/reinforcement, plus …
- … there is a practice/browse mode where you can take all the time you want to look at things and practice stroke order.
- The app pronounces each character so that even if you don’t glance up at the pinyin (or don’t know pinyin), you can know how it’s pronounced.
- You can go back and review the words you missed (and those you got right) after the game.
- The vocabulary is chosen from the new (2010) HSK lists; you can choose the level you want to practice.
- A reasonable selection of words at each level is included free. Add-ons are available including an “everything now and forever” for one for $9.99.
- Allows sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.
- Includes a nice introduction to stroke order rules.
- You can set the starting speed, but the difficulty seems to ramp up in an odd way; in my experience, as soon as I totally miss a word, the time for the next word is greatly reduced. Missing the fifth word ends the game and almost invariably, my missed words are all in a row at the end because it is almost impossible to recover from that first total miss.
- Occasionally, a stroke would register wrong (either in my favor or not), but overall the recognition seems exceptionally good to me.
- Seems to be simplified characters only.
Wishlist: It would be nice if …
- there were a way to add your own wordlists (although maybe you can if you have a trainchinese.com paid subscription?).
- it kept a list of high scores (rather than just one), allowed for multiple player accounts on the same device, and/or tied into Game Center.
- there were a variant that prompts with just the pinyin and English so that you have to both remember the character and write it in time (the time frame would need to be longer, of course).
Overall, the educational value of this game is higher than others I’ve seen. It’s already made me aware of some characters that I was in the habit of writing incorrectly and is breaking those habits.
trainchinese Chinese Writer. Free with paid add-ons. iPad-sized.