Localization case study:
Shadow Fight 3


This is the story of our work on the popular mobile fighting game Shadow Fight 3. We're going to discuss the process, show you some before and after screenshots, and, of course, take a look at some of the difficulties involved.
It all started in fall 2017 when the publisher Nekki came to us with a request to localize Shadow Fight 3 from English to 10 other languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Turkish. The game has about 50,000 words total, and the storyline is divided into seven chapters. We translated chapter by chapter, spending about a week on each one. A short time later, we added Hindi, and then three more languages in 2019: Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian.
Natalia Potekhina
Head of Production
Shadow Fight 3 is the latest installment in the popular mobile fighting game series. One of the key things that sets this game apart from other projects in the same genre is the controls. Shadow Fight 3 is not a tap-to-win game, and players really have to put in a lot of effort and display a lot of skill to win.
The plot centers around tensions between three factions that each have their own strengths and weaknesses, plus tons of unique fighting styles and weapons. The player sides with one of the factions and fights for Shadow Energy, which can shift the world's balance of power in your favor. The game is available on iOS and Android devices.
Even before we started the localization process, the client sent us a list of all the characters with their backgrounds, personality traits, and other important information. We translated their names for the glossary, and worked closely with the client and our editors to decide on each character's speech style in dialogues.

The client was able to have native speakers check German and French translations themselves. So we did three different versions of a test translation in three different styles. Nekki had native speakers check them, chose the style they liked best, and said: "Can we keep this same style in all the other languages too?" Based on this, we made style guides, which are kind of like a tone of voice for the game—guidelines that outline how the player is addressed and what liberties can be taken with the translation.

The translators started by reading the description of characters and how they relate to each other, then the style guide. Then they were able to lay out the different styles of communication between characters and other characters, and characters and the player.
The story and interactions between characters play a very important role in the game, so we paid particular attention to the dialogues.
If you compare the texts, the Chinese version looks a lot more compact.
Translating the names of traditional Eastern weapons was one of the more complicated aspects of the project, because there are dozens of varieties of all kinds of blades.
We had a lot of work to do where armor was concerned as well.
It's fantastic when developers provide such comprehensive information on their games, but even this is not always enough to ensure the translation is as high-quality and well thought out as possible. Our editing team had to do additional research on a lot of weapons.
We also performed localization testing as part of our work on updates. This is a screenshot of a bug report for the Indonesian version.
And this is how the Shadow Fight 3 localization process looked in the program we use for translation, memoQ
Key project statistics
  • 50,000 words
  • 14 languages
  • 7 storyline chapters
  • 1 week spent on chapter
  • Ongoing since 2017: we periodically translate updates and add new languages

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