Dating Puzzle is a game that combines features of the dating simulator genre with match-3 gameplay. Working on the translation of this game was an extraordinary experience due to various factors: the need for a new style guide format, a cast of diverse main heroines with distinct speech characteristics, and gameplay modes that presented intriguing textual requirements.
In Dating Puzzle, players get to know ten different girls, each with their own unique appeal. Moreover, each character’s communication style changes depending on how players nurture their relationships with them. The player’s goal is to get to know the girls as well as possible and win their hearts. Building relationships involves not only discovering new facts about the heroines and choosing the right responses during conversations, but also creating combinations of identical tiles in a match-3 mini-game. Each girl has favorite tiles, and connecting them can further improve the player’s relationship with that girl.
To ensure that no detail was missed and to accurately capture the personality of each character, we needed an extensive style guide. Apart from translation style requirements, we created full profiles of the heroines. These profiles covered everything: their hobbies, favorite foods, nicknames they give the player, signature phrases, and even selfies they might send. These developed profiles paint a vivid and detailed picture of each character, which our translation team can then refer to.
The main challenge of working on this game was ensuring that the character of each girl was conveyed through her translated speech, allowing players to engage with living characters rather than mere images on a screen.
Let’s look at some examples:
Gentlehearted Natalie loves French films and Édith Piaf’s songs. Her lines often include French phrases, and it was crucial that these remained untranslated.
Alessandra teaches Spanish and also enjoys sprinkling her speech with various foreign phrases. Occasionally, she even tries to teach the player new Spanish words. To capture this trait, these phrases also needed to remain untranslated. Interestingly, for Spanish-speaking players, Alessandra was adjusted to become an Italian language instructor.
Spirited Lucy can be unpredictable and sometimes even reckless. Her character shines through playful responses and teenage slang.
English: “Complicated schmoplicated.”
Spanish: “Ni complicado ni leches.”
English: “Sup? Got any spare kisses? No? What if I find some?”
German: “Was geht? Hast du ein paar Küsschen für mich? Nein? Muss ich sie mir woanders suchen?”
Spanish: “¿Qué pasa, tío? ¿Te sobra algún beso? ¿No? A mí sí, ¿quieres?”
Cassia leads an active lifestyle: she’s passionate about sports, rides motorcycles through the city at night, and sometimes even participates in races. Throughout her speech, and even in her compliments, she manages to make references to sports.
English: “Honest and daring. Double points for that. We can work on your pick-up lines too.”
Italian: “Sincero e audace. Doppio punteggio per te. Possiamo lavorare anche su come rimorchiare, se vuoi.”
Spanish: “Honesto y lanzado. Ya llevas dos puntos. Aunque también deberías pulir tus frases de ligoteo.”
Independent Yumi can sometimes be a bit gloomy and sarcastic. She has esoteric tastes and you can occasionally spot dark humor in her remarks.
English: “Until I can look into your brain.”
English: “Haha! Want me to find you a saw?”
Italian: “Almeno finché non sarò in grado di guardare nella tua testa.”
Italian: “Ah ah! Vuoi che ti procuri una sega?”
Spanish: “Hasta que pueda mirar en el interior de tu cerebro.”
Spanish: “¡Ja, ja! ¿Quieres que vaya a buscarte una sierra?”
As you can guess from her name, Iris is a vibrant and kind-hearted florist.
English: “My name is Iris. You know, like the flower.”
German: “Ich heiße Iris. Wie die in meinem Auge.”
Italian: “Mi chiamo Iris. Sai, come il fiore.”
Dating Puzzle also features various gameplay modes. One of those modes allows the player to chat with the girls in a messenger app. Here, we faced yet another intriguing challenge: translating messages to convey the intended meaning while appearing as realistic as possible. You wouldn’t start a conversation with your best friend by saying, “Good day. How are you?” Similarly, communication with our heroines needed to be translated to make players feel like they were truly engaging in casual chats with friends. While translating these messages, it was important to avoid complex phrasings, limit our use of punctuation, particularly periods, and, of course, emojis were a must.
Shorthand expressions were interesting, as these could change dramatically between languages. For instance, “xx” and “xoxo” in an English text are represented in entirely different ways in some languages.
In specific situations, deliberately leaving typos was necessary too, and there were instances where the instinct to correct them had to be suppressed. It’s hard to believe that a person who’s chasing a departing bus and responding to your message would write without a single mistake and with all the necessary punctuation.
In conclusion, what set this game and its translation work apart?
- An interesting blend of genres: dating simulator and match-3 gameplay.
- A plethora of captivating heroines with unique personalities.
- Characters with distinct speech patterns and signature phrases.
- A gameplay mode simulating communication with heroines via a messenger app.
- A wealth of conversational vocabulary and slang.
- Varied humor.
- An unconventional style guide format.
Translating this game wasn’t just about the text itself—it was also about enjoying the gameplay. The project turned out to be very memorable, with fresh translation challenges, unique characters, and, of course, a fun game to play!