Everybody Loves Turnip Boy

12.01.2023

What’s the game?

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is a 2D pixel adventure game developed by Snoozy Kazoo and published by Graffiti Games. The entire Allcorrect team that worked on localizing the game fell totally in love with the main character and the other inhabitants of this strange world, populated by vegetables, fruits, and flesh-eating (or should we say fruit-eating?) snails.

This kind of project is balm to the soul of any localization professional. First, it has an unusual setting, one that grows from the story of a single garden patch to much, much more right before the astonished eyes of the audience. Second, there are lots of vivid and complex characters, each with their own speech quirks and short yet complex storyline. Third, the game has a lot, lot, lo-o-o-ot of jokes, cultural references and homages to other games, plus a few poems. Fourth, the developer’s sense of humor and their awareness of localization problems kept us going in even the toughest situations.

Elizaveta Shevchenko,

localization project manager:

Little Turnip Boy won my managerial heart right from the get-go. The developers and writers worked really hard on the text. It’s full of jokes, references, plays on words, and charactonyms, all of which made working on the project a creative experience! The game’s plot is original and interesting, with a deep meaning to boot. The developers provided us with lots of reference materials: guides to the characters, technical workflows and localization, and Steam keys. From our side, we offered our linguists a recording of the gameplay. We managed to set up a workflow that checked all the best practice boxes: we found top-quality translators who specialized in adventure games, created schedules to track the progress, and started translating.




Image author: Jennifer Kindle, lead artist for Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

Dude, it’s Turnip Boy!

A theater performance starts with the curtain, and a game… with the main character. Who is a turnip. A Turnip Boy. A charming little root vegetable. And a challenge for translators.

Manuela Mesquita,

translator into Brazilian Portuguese:

I’d say the hardest (and most interesting) part of the project were the jokes related to food, starting with the names of the characters! In our translation, the main character, Turnip Boy, became Nabinho (“little turnip”). This option sounds cute, and a direct translation of Turnip Boy would have sounded like the name of a superhero’s sidekick. You might say that this decision determined the tone of the whole game. I decided to change all the names, even ones that weren’t jokes. For example, Carly became Carlinha. This helped players feel at home in the game world. My personal proud moment was Old Man Lemon. I translated his name as Limão de Gaveta, which is a reference to the expression maracujá de gaveta (“passion fruit from a drawer”), used to describe an old person with wrinkles.

Margarita Pechnikova,

translator into Russian:

We got lucky with the localization of character names. The developer gave us the green light to transcreate based on character attributes. And thus, we created Mayor Lukas (Mayor Onion), the mafia gang Marinozi (Pickled Gang), plus the stern Farsh (Biff) and his fun pal Teftelka (Buddy) as law enforcement. Oh, I almost forgot the main character! Our little Cipollino became Repchik. What other option could there be?

So, who is this turnip and where does he live?

As we all know, any character is a reflection of the social setting they are raised in. Our main character is a turnip with legal problems that destroys every piece of paper he comes across. Can you imagine that setting? Don’t worry. We’re about to introduce you to it ourselves.

Margarita Pechnikova,

translator into Russian:

There are all kinds of people in Veggieville, from gentle souls to simple working folks. Some (oh my mush!) love little cat apple munchkins, and everything in their lives is purrrfect. Others (oh snap!) send everyone to the devil. They might even rough you up so bad you can’t tell your tops from your roots. Dang! You’ll be coughin’ up dirt for weeks, you hear? Sure thing. The swearing and the language of the fruit and veggie characters was simple and complicated at the same time. It was simple because the developers provided us with an amazing character bible that contained details about their speech style. And it was complicated... because we had to think up and create a lot of exclamations and speech quirks based on fruit and gardening terminology.


Julie Muzard,

translator into French

I identified the dark humor of the game text and added some fruit-and-vegetable themed puns of my own: I called all the characters’ hair fanes (“tops”) and their limbs tubercule (“tubers”). Every character had funny speech quirks and behavior.

Roberto Carloni,

translator into Italian:

Translating the names of the characters and their speech quirks was incredibly funny. My favorite was Don Turnipchino, or Don Rapuzzo, as we called him in the Italian version. I made him speak using Sicilian dialect, which spiced things up. I hope the Italian players like it.

Sounds like a barrel of laughs. So, was it hard at all?

It was.
The most significant technical difficulty was the very strict limit on line lengths. If we exceeded the set number of symbols in a sentence, no one would ever see the end of it, because it would be cut off during transposition to the text window. Localization is, in many ways, a process of creating within limits: an editor may hold a pencil in one hand, but the other always holds a calculator.
Limits on line length were particularly difficult because the concentration of jokes in the original text was so high, and we didn’t want to lose anything in translation. We wanted to convey the special names of locations (each one is made up of two words that start with the same letter), and the charactonyms of the characters, and the references, and the plays on words, and the special language used in a veggie world!

Manuela Mesquita,

translator into Brazilian Portuguese:

I used plays on words as much as possible. This led to the expression “O que quiabos...” (a combination of o que diabos (“what the devil”) and quiabos, the word for okra). Or, for example, when a character yells at Jerry the snail, who is trying to avoid paying rent, he uses the word encaracolando, which doesn’t exist. It’s a combination of the words enrolando (“to get lost”) and caracol (“snail”).

Margarita Pechnikova,

translator into Russian:

The names of locations took some effort. It was important not just to choose words that start with the same letter, but also to remember the visual component. I combed through a lot of thesauruses! And even more sites with lists of word associations! But it was worth it to get the brainchild of Anastasia Ershova, pozabitaya pushcha (“Forgotten Forest”). Or figovaya ferma (“Forsaken Farmhouse”), which had an extra layer of meaning: things at the farm aren’t going very well, and in a game about fruits and veggies, the word figa (“fig”) is more than just a gesture... it’s also a fruit! :D



A separate type of translation fun (sometimes in scare quotes, sometimes not) is translating poems. Accidentally making a bad translation of a good poem is simple! Try making a good translation of an intentionally bad one. We don’t know how well we managed it, but we tried our best… and laughed a lot.

So, what’s the result?

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is an excellent example of a game that was difficult to work on, but so fun that it felt easy. It serves as proof that if the developer and the localization team are equally as invested in making sure the players have fun and enjoy playing in their native language, then there’s no way they can fail. The developer provided exceptionally detailed translation instructions, keys for installing the game on Steam, and cheat codes, plus endlessly funny and in-depth answers to translators’ questions. The linguists not only got into the spirit of the game and tried to make their translations vivid and interesting; they also helped each other decipher the trickiest references and brainstormed together in the Google doc with questions.


Elizaveta Shevchenko,

localization project manager:

When about 10% of the overall text was complete, we sent samples to the client to get feedback and make any necessary adjustments to the localization at the start of the project—tweaking the style, clarifying line limits, choosing appropriate fonts, and so on. Next, the text was reviewed by professional editors and native speakers. During that process, even more awesome translation decisions were made. After that came the final manager checks, which were the biggest challenge for me while working on the project (wordplay causes a bunch of false alerts during auto-checks), and at last, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion was localized. To sum up, I can say that this little turnip became a favorite and memorable project for me. I still check the reviews on Steam from time to time. I’m really proud that our group efforts led to the creation of a localization that players have only positive things to say about, highlighting funny jokes, cool references, and lots more (to find out what exactly, play the game!) =)

Andy Messner,

senior producer for Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion:

The biggest thing we were afraid of was that the translation wouldn’t convey the original humor, and that the jokes wouldn’t be as funny for people from different countries and cultures. But the reviews we’ve gotten from players have all been very positive, and they always mention how funny the game is, no matter the language.



There are fans of Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion among our linguists too. It would probably be harder to find a linguist who isn’t a fan of the game.

Julie Muzard,

translator into French:

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is one of my favorite projects. I even have a few stuffed toys shaped like Turnip Boy and Mayor Onion. They’re on my desk.



As I said before, for the localization team, every game is special. But let’s be honest: some of them just feel like work. Some of them hit you right in the heart fruit.
If you find yourself with some spare time, drop in to check out some 2D pixel vegetation and see the mystery and depth of their veggie souls for yourself. Don’t get lost in the cemetery. And be careful around Jerry. He’s a slippery one.

Allcorrect
Allcorrect is a gaming service company. We help game developers free their time from routine processes in order to focus on key tasks. We provide professional game translations into 40+ languages and create game art of all levels of complexity. Also, we offer localization testing, voice-over, and culturalization adaption of in-game content. Our team adores games and complex projects. We’re incredibly proud of our clients, including both world-renowned AAA developers and indie companies that have successfully entered the international market.