One of the recent credits I posted was for Aquanox 2: Revelation, the most recent game set in the undersea post-apocalyptic waterworld of Aqua. Here’s how I described the work I did on that project:
Revised and edited original translations. Rewrote several key characters late in revision process to meet localization needs for US/UK publisher.
The game was recently released in the US and reviewed in the December, 2003 issue of Computer Gaming World (p.144), where it received one star out of five. Among a host of other complaints about the game, there was this:
The writing jumps from overwrought exposition to hackneyed convention, including the jive black man and the coy Asian girl.
Well, guess what? That’s entirely accurate. That’s the way the text was originally written, and having worked on the previous titles I knew that’s what the developer wanted. They were going for a camp style, as they had in the past, and whether the reviewer didn’t get it, or we all failed to execute, that’s exactly what they intended.
Thinking now about the game and how it turned out I’m not really sure what I could have done to prevent the above sentence from appearing in that review. I know I did a lot to improve the humor and the general flow of the texts, which always suffer in translation, but given the original intent, the structure of the dialogues, and the game itself, I just don’t know if there was a higher goal to aspire to.
You can’t work in a creative business without laying an egg once in a while, of course, and in isolation this experience would simply be par for the course. My concern, as noted previously, is that the industry itself seems more and more determined to exist within constraints in which there is little to aspire to.
— Mark Barrett