Vagrant Story / Tactics Ogre Creator Yasumi Matsuno Joins Level-5

By Spencer . June 28, 2011 . 11:34pm


Level-5, the company behind hits such as Professor Layton and Ni no Kuni, hired Yasumi Matsuno. Known for his work on Vagrant Story, Tactics Ogre, and Final Fantasy XII, Matsuno began talking with Akihiro Hino about making a game for Level-5.


Speaking with Famitsu, Matsuno said he was fascinated by Level-5 and could emphasize with Hino’s vision. He saw his nieces, nephews, and friend’s children playing Level-5 titles like Inazuma Eleven, but not his games. Matsuno last game was Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for PSP.


At Level-5, Matsuno will make a brand new game, a title he had in the back of his mind for ten years. Famitsu saw concept art from the project, which has a knight in full armor with a helmet and visor covering the character’s face. Another illustration showed a character holding a rapier. The magazine also reports a character holding an axe and a Viking shield, a magician, archer, and two distorted images.


Matsuno said he believes elementary school aged kids will enjoy his game. Hino said the game will not be epic in scale, but rather a compact title. Matsuno says he should be able to finish production within two years. Matsuno commented on the freedom of being able to work on a new game and compared it to creating Ogre Battle for the Super Famicom where he can design the way he wants to.

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  • shion16

    Tri-Ace, Platinum Games, Level 5 and Marvelous are the new generation of J-video games.

    • Aside from Platinum, the future of Japanese video games looks awful then.

      • Well someone’s a negative nancy. I’m rather excited, myself.

      • Please read this very carefully if you want to join in future discussions on Siliconera:

    • landlock

      Platinum Games and Level 5 are good but Tri-ace are pretty awful of late and Marvelous will be lucky to be around to be the next of anything.

  • Exkaiser

    Matsuno joins Level-5?


  • Elementary school kids? I feel kind of embarrassed, but at the same time: I don’t care – I want to see what’ll come out of this.

    • puchinri

      It’d be an impressive title if elementary school kids and adults alike could enjoy it though. A lot of fantastic works are like that~.

  • imaguni

    Love the article preview pic, haha.

  • daniel ross

    Wow…is there anyone of worth even at Square Enix at this point? Seems like this is truly the last page in Squaresoft’s fantastic library of games.

    • Of worth? Well, I’m sure there is. Maybe some guy will stand up, take over, and make some good design choices.

      • At this point it’s not even a simple thing such as “design” choices. It’s business choices that are crippling them. People have been wondering for quite some time what the company would look like if Yoichi Wada wasn’t at the helm ever since FFXII.

        • Tom_Phoenix

          Speaking of that, I wonder when will investors force Wada to resign?

          • I don’t know…if it weren’t for Wada, Square wouldn’t have had a whole lot to show at this E3. He spearheaded the Eidos acquisition, didn’t he? 

            From all of his public statements regarding Square’s internal development, I think Wada fully understands what needs to be done, and he’s trying to do it, but the rest of the company is pushing back against change. 

          • Acquiring western developers isn’t exactly the fundamental change that should be happening over in Japan, though. Capcom acquired a few Western devs and partnered with a few more to wildly varying results. Same goes for Konami. Then again, that’s their own problem. Buying out talent doesn’t magically make your original workforce any more able to produce different (not necessarily better) results. They’ll hopefully find that out soon enough.

            On a separate note, Square Enix opting to only show off about three Japan-developed games at E3 was their own choice. They kept Versus XIII out of E3 2011 even though it was present for the past few years. They aren’t even considering the localization of their humongous portable back-catalog from this generation; most of it being remakes and ports of older game franchises whose original versions were previously brought over here. They purposely chose to favor the Eidos lineup instead of the Square Enix one, which is understandable on some level since E3 is supposed to show off games aimed at North America.

    • Yeah, a guy who hasn’t been a full employee of SE since FF12 is STILL not an employee, suddenly there is no talent in the company.

      That was sarcasm btw

      • Exkaiser

        Oh man, how ever would we be able to detect your sarcasm without the warning.

        • Tom_Phoenix

          You would be suprised how easy it is to miss sarcasm on the Internet.

          • Exkaiser

            Fair enough.

      • Aiddon

        all that proves is that hasn’t been any talent at the company for an even longer period of time

  • mikanko

    The creator of Ivalice given reign to create again.  Definitely interested in the outcome of this.

  • Xeahnort

    Another “rat” to leave the sinking ship

  • Matsuno hasn’t been a full employee of SE since he left development half way through FF12.  He was only contracted to comeback and work on the Tactics Ogre remake for PSP.

    Some of the comments are acting like SE lost him, but he wasn’t even SE’s employee to lose.  To the comment saying he “left the sinking ship,” why did he return to work on Tactics Ogre in the first place?

    Anyway, good for Matsuno finding another gig.  I would have rather he continued on work on Tactics Ogre assuming SE would want to persue it, but we don’t know if that opportunity was actualy presented to him.  Matsuno shouldn’t have sweated it anyway.  In a few years his nieces and nephews will surely play his old masterpieces when they are old enough ;)

    • Just to clarify I never said that and that was not our intention whatsoever.

      • SolidusSnake

        I can’t speak for Daniel Sant but it sounds like he is addressing his fellow commentators. :p

      • Sorry, yeah, I was mainly replying in general to the comments. I edited my post to clarify

        • Apologies from my side, I didn’t notice that! I just saw the comment as standalone. Thanks for the edit :)

    • DanteJones

      EDIT: in response to your edit lol

      But yeah, I do agree that Matsuno having the chance to work on some more games is great, Level-5 of all places to boot.

    • puchinri

      I was wondering about that. Since it felt like more and more people have been leaving SE over time, I wondered if Matsuno had really even been with them for a while now.

  • Ultima Arcana

    Matsuno has been my favorite game director for over 10 years. It’s good to see him land another job where he’ll have complete control of his games again.

    Although… this kind of kills off the chance of there being any more Ivalice or Ogre games, which is very disappointing. It’s also hard for me to imagine a Matsuno game that doesn’t have Hiroshi Minagawa as art director and illustrations by Akihiko Yoshida. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

  • fuzzy_hobo

    Glad to see my favorite game designer working at one of the rising stars in the industry. He’s a great fit for Level-5 since I think storytelling is one of the departments they can improve upon (assuming Matsuno gets to work his magic). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Matsuno will continue the Ogre Battle saga anytime in the near future…

  • I always love the Ivalice series AKA) FFTatics and and FFXII. I really love vegrant story one of my all time favorite and always will be part of my gaming life.

    i cheer you for joining another company who offer you more money cause am sure that’s how it is and am sure u still will be working with SE on some titles.

    cheers mr. matsuno!

  • Matsuno makes games with seriously good stories. I greatly look forward to this man’s next masterpiece!

  • I always hoped he would find his way back to writing/directing another numbered Final Fantasy game, but signing on with a company that’s willing to give such talent the freedom he needs/deserves is excellent news as well!

    Final Fantasy XII might not be my favorite game in the series, but I’d like to think that had things gone as planned, it would be. I wish he could collaborate with Akihiko Yoshida at Level-5 though. :(

  • kupomogli

    Level 5 will start getting better games now.  Atleast those that Matsuno is involved with, the others will be “okay” to “good.”

  • puchinri

    I saw this news earlier and was very interested in that. I think L5 have a better variety in games than some people give them credit for. (Especially in regards to quality.)

    It’ll be interesting to see Matsuno’s title. I hope he’s successful with Level-5 and enjoys it there.

  • 01001111

    Matsuno-san’s work on Vagrant Story was absolutely phenomenal and up there with games like Shadow of the Colossus imo. The only thing I didn’t like about VS when I played thru it a few months ago was the extremely cumbersome inventory management system which requires you to save every time you access something in your storage (and saving takes awhile – it’s a PSone game).

  • badmoogle

    “Hino said the game will not be epic in scale, but rather a compact title.”

    Hopefully he will eventually be involved in bigger projects as well in the future.I would like to see him trying creating a new kind of Ivalice at Level 5.

  • 128bitigor

    I… love the fact that Mr Matsuno, is going to work (such a friggin talent)… but Level-5, of all the companies? Not that I hate their games, but I am not fan of them either – their titles are usually bit boring and really cliche. 
    I mean, Mtsuno = dark, political,very intricate intrigues, Level-5 studio = ghibli like hippy mish-mash. Well, as long as the game will be awesome, I don’t mind, but a game that “elementary kids would enjoy” does not make me optimistic. 

    I just hope it still gives a chance for another tactics ogre title (after all L5 works quite closely with SE). I think Matsuno would be far better suited to Atlus. That would be like a dream come true.

    • Aiddon

      I have to agree; except for Layton, all of Level 5’s games have extremely weak writing. I do hope he can still work with his team at Square and finish up Ogre Battle.

  • Yukito

    I am happy about this. The more Square Enix loses their talent to more RPG-driven studios (Like Level 5 mostly), the happier I am. Maybe one day, Level 5 can actually produce something worthy enough down the line to become their own RPG franchise. Here’s hoping!

  • This is pretty hype. I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the mix at Level-5.

  • It’s like Optimus Prime combining with a Gundam. I like the mature flavor of Matsuno’s games, though. I’m sure this next game will be awesome, but I hope it doesn’t lose the political intrigue I’ve come to love about Matsuno’s games just because he wants to aim for children.

    • renkun67

      “It’s like Optimus Prime combining with a Gundam.”


      So much Win.

  • Aiddon

    hmmm, hopefully he’s still allowed to do finish up Ogre Battle at Square should the opportunity arise. I’ll keep my eye on this as it develops

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