NOTE: post is currently in progress, i’m too tired to fix it properly before i publish the updates
I’ll add more to this list as I find and play them. Last updated 23rd February 2015.
Usually you’ll want to (or it’s only possible to) emulate a game instead of buying a physical cartridge. Emulation means you use software to play the game on another gaming device, for example playing a gameboy game on a 3DS, or a PS2 game on a computer. Emulation software is entirely free, and runs on “ROMs” (digital versions of the info that’s on a game cartridge), which you can download online (techically, having a ROM copy of a game you already own is not illegal, and emulators aren’t illegal, but downloading ROMs of games you don’t already know is illegal – anyway you can find ROMs easily online.) If you have a device like a 3DS, you can buy a “flashcart” (flashcartridge) which is basically just a fake game cartridge that’s actually a USB, and you can load the emulation software etc onto it. Anyway!
Games only in hiragana or katakana:
1. (GBC, NDS) All of the Pokemon games (although X and Y can switch in-game between kanji and hiragana by changing the settings). Pokemon Gold, Silver or Crystal are actually the easiest to understand and learn from out of all the games (Red/Blue/Green have stilted text with not enough context, and the later games have way too much text and aren’t as easy to play if you can’t understand what they’re saying). Warning, the Mystery Dungeon games have really tiny text that’s hard to read.
2. (DS) こどものための読み聞かせ えほんであそぼう – A series of “games” which are actually illustrated children’s books. There’s both English and Japanese stories, and the stories have audio. The stories are just things like that one about the peach boy, and Peter Pan, summarized.
3. (GBC) 不思議のダンジョン 風来のシレン This game is entirely in hiragana and the only real text is when you’re in a town or other “resting place”. It’s easy to figure out how to play even without being able to read anything. You wander around, picking up objects and fighting things, trying to get to deeper and deeper levels of the “dungeon” (ex. get to level 15 to rescue someone) then climb back out:
4. (SMS) Phantasy Star – Written entirely in katakana, except for some sort of cutscenes which use a few basic kanji. I haven’t played it so I dunno how easy it is to understand things in.
5. (SNES, GBA) Mother – also known as “Earthbound”. There’s three games and as far as I know, all of them only use hiragana and katakana.
6. (SNES) Final Fantasy III – has small text and is difficult to understand the “cutscenes”, but the normal “walking around town talking to random people” is much easier to understand.
7. (GBA) Breath of Fire. Text is also relatively big and easy to read.
8. 3×3 Eyes – Only has kanji in the opening scenario-type text, all the dialogues and in-game stuff are just in hiragana/katakana. has huge text!
9. Soul Blader – the hiragana is relatively big and clear to read.
Only basic kanji, without furigana:
1. As far as I know, all the Zelda games for GBC and GBA. “Oracle of Seasons (GBC)” has barely any kanji (as in, extremely few even from the basic kanji) from what little I played, but unfortunately the kanji looks like this:
(GBA) Fushigi no Boushi has more kanji (still probably all in the most common 1.000 though) and is still a bit hard to read because the letters are squished:
2. Dragon Quest I, II – again, the kanji looks like this:
3. Ougen no Taiyou – fairly big font with clear kanji
4. Akazukin Chacha – huge text
Kanji with furigana: