I’ve been silent for a while, and not exactly for lack of tales to tell.
Truth is, I’ve been neck-deep in work from about April onwards, and only got the chance to catch up with my beauty sleep in September before jumping right back into the fray. I’ve finally had the chance to take a step back, breathe and recap a bit.
I had the pleasure of taking care of the Spanish localisation/transcreation of Bertram Fiddle 2: A Bleaker Predicklement, a point and click graphic adventure set in a particularly quirky version of Victorian London (and elsewhere, but I’m not telling. Just play the game.).
This charming little jewel of a game puts you in the shoes (and aubergine-shaped nose) of the titular Bertram Fiddle, a detective and soap salesman chasing the evil Geoff the Murderer through the muddy alleys, the seedy pubs and the sinister halls of the rich and damned. Together with his Peruvian brute of a footman, Mr. Fiddle will uncover dark mysteries, unveil dastardly conspiracies and devour puncakes by the ton.
Localising a game like Bertram Fiddle is a task that requires thinking with two minds at the same time. On the one hand, there is the “regular” challenge that each and every translator faces daily, namely to make a certain work accessible for a completely different audience, accurately and economically. And then there come the finer points of what I insist on calling transcreation – not just the optimal translation of a certain work, but the adaptation of the intention and cultural nuance behind the original text, also in terms of what is funny and comedic for a certain given culture. And that’s the part of the challenge I enjoy the most about jobs like this one.
When you’re adapting a game as quintessentially British as Bertram Fiddle for a Spanish-speaking audience, how far do you go with your own Hispanisation of the source material, how close do you keep to the utter Britishness of the original? The jokes and puns need to be funny, but they also need to remind the player of the cultural references the game is steeped in. That player eagerly clicking away in Barcelona, Quito or Buenos Aires wants to have a laugh, for this is comedy, or else I have failed – but they also need to be given a taste of the Earl Grey, a whiff of the acrid City smog, an echo of the horse-drawn landaus. They want to spend some quality time in a deranged and silly and charming version of Doyle’s/Holmes’ London, and smile ironically at the prejudice (and pride!) of Imperial England, at the Agatha Christie plot twists, the pompousness and charisma of the characters.
A job like this necessarily involves a lot of creativity, executive decisions and somewhat risky choices. It’s been a delight to work with Seb Burnett from Rumpus Animation, the genially twisted mind behind Bertram Fiddle, and enjoy near total creative freedom to adapt heavy hauls of punnage. I confess to having spent more than a few nights and days giggling to myself like a madman in front of the screen, re-reading my own crazy versions of the original (and crazier) puns and plays on words. It’s also been a trip down memory lane. Thirteen-year old, Monkey Island-obsessed Victor would have swooned at the chance to have a go at this game.
Reader, if even a small fraction of the fun I’ve had adapting Bertram Fiddle comes across in the game, you’re surely in for a great time.
Bertram Fiddle 2 is now on Steam, and it’s available for iOs and Android as well.