During 2021, as a part of the Universally Speaking team, I was lucky to work on the Russian localization of a hilariously devilish and weirdly impossible roguelike platformer Spelunky 2 created by genius Derek Yu.
This game was as hard in localization as it is in the walk-through.
Apart from concatenated grammar, hard-coded elements, and lack of visual context, I faced a true boss of a video game localization challenge that is surely worth to be mentioned here... past tense verbs.
Imagine your hero dies and a game-over screen appears saying that they were "Eaten," "Haunted," "Melted," or died from whatever reason.
What could go wrong here, you ask? The thing is that such verbs are always tied to a grammatical gender in Russian. Each of them would require 2 forms in the translation: feminine and masculine (or 3, if there's a neutral form but that's not the case) depending on a character's gender or... depending on the player's gender which gets everything even more complicated...
Of course, the game code didn't take that into account (and doesn't really need to).
Moreover, even if translated that way, direct translations would look clumsy in some cases. Impersonal constructions could do the trick for "Eaten" ("Тебя съели") or "Trampled" ("Тебя затоптали") but not for "Haunted" or "Snapped"...
This is the challenge that Russian video game localizers face quite often.
After several days of brain-storming, working on the game, and playing it, I desperately needed an elegant, consistent, and funny solution just like everything around me was desperately hungry for eating, haunting, melting, or trampling me (including the approaching deadline)... and, finally, I took refuge in interjections expressing emotions rather than conveying the facts.
Enjoy, if you know some Russian:
And, ultimately, my favorite one:
You'll find a lot more in the game but be careful: it's super addictive!
PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Alex is a pleasure to work with — very professional, open to feedback, responsive, and very committed to their work.