Level-5 CEO Hopes Level-5 International America Will Develop Original Games

By Spencer . September 19, 2012 . 10:00am

Level-5 opened an office in North America and one of their first projects is localizing Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which is being published by Namco. Level-5 International America has a strong pool of talent including Richard Honeywood who used to handle localization work at Square Enix and Blizzard.


What else is Level-5 International America doing? That’s what I asked the company’s CEO, Akihiro Hino, when I met with him.


“Our U.S. office mainly works to efficiently release the Japanese titles that Level-5 has created overseas and they are involved in production and distribution in the overseas territories,” Hino explained.


“With Ni no Kuni, they are helping bring it to the overseas markets and potentially with other titles. In the future, we would potentially like to develop title overseas where Level-5 International America is taking the lead on developing for the overseas market.”


Rumor has it that Level-5 International America is also working on Guild 01 or at least Suda51’s portion of the game, titled Liberation Maiden (above). While Level-5 hasn’t announced anything, trademarks and game ratings point to an English localization.

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  • French

    I hope so too

  • Jordan Coleman

    Great. Now we can Level 5’s blandness Americanized.

    •  Blandness how?  Easy statement but I’d REALLY like to see that one backed up.

      • Jordan Coleman

        White Knight Chronicles-Pretty much the most bland big jrpg this gen. You’ve seen every cliche this games done everywhere else only with a lot more actual energy and style. Even the art style of the game has no personality. When you see an Atlus game you can identify which Atlus artist did it. Can you do that for WKC? Does any of the music have any sort of character to it? No.

        Gundam Age another Level 5 product. Beyond just being terribly written and horribly paced, is another mediocre work that does nothing. Sure it has a good idea of multiple gens, but done so wrong. The conflicts, the characters, and basically everything else you’ve seen everywhere else. But I mean they are so half assed here it’s not even funny. Ansem and Masked white guys relationship is given like 2 mins to develop and then it pulls the “I’m actually on the other side we must fight card” and it hopes you will care even though the extent of the friendship was basically done in a montage. Lets not even talk about the female characters who’s characters start and end at “I like the main character”. What PoS.

        Ni No Kuni also just rides on the Ghibli look and name, but it’s a poor imitation. The story here never comes close to being as touching or meaningful as their movies, but the game hopes you won’t notice with it’s whimsical graphics and really really wanabee Ghbili art style. But it all lacks substance and coherent plot development like pretty much every Level 5 product.

        Last Galaxy or whatever the space rpg they made was probably their most interesting looking game, but too bad for it’s poor pacing and systems that just never went anywhere. Like all Level 5 games though the story is petty unmemorable, so much so I can’t think of what to say against it.

        They don’t get all the credit for DQ.

        Level 5 is not a good rpg developer at all. 

        • SirRichard

          Given that Gundam Age is a licenced title heavily based on the anime, do you really think the writing or any of that is really their fault? The actual show suffers from pretty much all the same problems you listed, from what I’ve heard.

          No disagreement on White Knight Chronicles here, but from what you and others have said I’m willing to bet you both haven’t played Professor Layton and that’s just your opinion on Ni No Kuni. Plus, they deserve plenty of credit for Dragon Quest, don’t just write that off.

          • Jordan Coleman

            Gundam Age seems to be Hino’s idea. I don’t recall what the production history is, but if I remember Sunrise came to Level 5 to make a game and Hino may have already had this idea for this show and then Sunrise was like “that sounds great and that Soccer game you make gets that demographic we want to hit” and so Age was born. So it’s more then a licensed title. In fact that doesn’t describe it really. It’s a collaboration between well at least Hino if not Level 5 and Sunrise. Hino is created for series composition(it his idea) and wrote the screenplays for 24 episodes. 

            And no I haven’t played Professor Layton. Maybe it’s good, but it’s not the kind of game I play so I revised my statement to only focus on them as a rpg developer.

            And while Level 5 made and and Hino directed the DQVIII. They still had Armour Project over them. Most people give the credit for say Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey to Mistwalker and well it’s the same situation here. I mean Lost Odyssey is a good game and Feel Plus kind of sucks.

          • LynxAmali

            Slightly true.
            AGE was originally meant to be a video game, yes.
            Yes, Hino was involved.

            But no, it had nothing to do with Inazuma Eleven.

            And, I might add; Did you see Sunrise’s predictions for merchandising?
            Here, in case you haven’t.

            There is no way in hell they’d get that kind of return.

          • Jordan Coleman

            The entire point of Age was to attract newer fans. You’re telling me that Level 5’s history of attracting that audience with such hits as Inazuma Eleven paid no part in them saying “yeah we should work with you”.

            Come on man.

        • You do know that Studio Ghibli actually did the art for Ni no Kuni… right?

          • Jordan Coleman

            Yes and thats my point. It’s really nothing special. I mean look at the character designs. They hardly are anywhere near the best of Ghibli’s work and could have been taken from anywhere. It only seems special because the name is attached. 

          • Jordan Coleman

            But beyond that it’s story and characters that Ghibli is (or used to be) great at. And that’s where the game really fails. 

            Well the game’s battle system is also pretty dry.

          • Paradox me

            The character designs in Ni no Kuni look like classic Ghibli. As much as I love them, most of the characters in their films could easily be dropped into countless other works without anyone being any the wiser. 

            They make beautiful films with touching stories and empathetic characters, but rarely do they feature any truly unique, standout character designs.

        • MrRobbyM

          I like L5 for some things but out of the games you mentioned, you do have a point. I could never get into Rogue Galaxy. It seemed really interesting but I could just never get far into it. The pacing was out of whack from the start and the story never convinced me to keep going. Battle system wasn’t that great either.

          As much as i’m excited for Ni No Kuni, you’re right. Besides the graphics, the game looks pretty meh. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it if only for that.

          WKC is just blah overall. DQ8 is my favorite game by them but even then, they don’t get all the credit.

        • Mattias Mörner

          Well, I stopped looking at any company as a “good developer” cause all the ones I used to think about in that way has dissapointed me. When it comes to Level-5 I really like Rogue Galaxy and Ni no Kuni. Played White Knight Chronicles 1 but wasn’t my thing although I didn’t hate it. When it comes to Ni no Kuni you’ll have to remember it’s marketed towards a younger audience, otherwise they wouldn’t have furigana on everything (Although I’m thankful, since my kanji knowledge sucks). Well, too each his own. I don’t say any developer is good, and neither do I say that any developer is just bad. All it takes to change completely is to hire one person to a directing post.

          • Jordan Coleman

            Well they have Matsuo so there is that.

          • And yet, of all the Guild01 games, Matsuno’s looks the worst. :P

        •  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a response, nor a well thought out one, so I have to give you kudos regardless.

          I’ll agree with a good deal of that statement, especially with Rogue Galaxy since I couldn’t really get into that at all and have been told time and time again that it’s worth my time even though I was told the very same thing right after launch and it just hasn’t proven it to me.

          I don’t know if I can necessarily agree with you on WKC, though, even though there are others that do agree with that assessment.  While it’s not the top of the pile, I’ve known many (not just myself) that enjoy it and its successor on the PS3 and it’s typically those that aren’t big on MMOs.  Perhaps that was what they were shooting for?  I couldn’t really tell you.  It certainly isn’t the flashiest out there but there appears to be a good enough following to it and I can’t imagine it’s ‘just because’ whether necessarily memorable or not.

          But mostly, I’m not a big fan of someone shooting something down before it gets a chance.  Yes, that might inevitably be where it goes or it might develop into something that surpasses home base.  I’d like to see that opportunity present itself before I make that assumption that the US corporation is going to immediately follow in the footsteps of Japan.

        • Anime10121

           I kinda agree with you, I never get all the praise that Level 5 seems to get.  People even call them one of Japan’s best studios and I dont get how.  While they have put out some gems like Dark Cloud 2 and Layton, most of their releases are more mediocre and not to memorable, such as the WKC series and Rogue Galaxy and some obscure and zany Gundam Age, Little Battlers, Guild 101, and Inazuma 11.  Their sales haven’t been that great for most of their titles too, with the only stand out hits being Dragon Quest (which Enix did story and music for), Dark Cloud (which while I think was a good game, benefited from being one of very few good PS2 rpgs released at the time), Layton, and some Inazuma Eleven games.  The rest have seen moderate success to almost non existent sales.

          While both Time Travellers and Ni no Kuni LOOK interesting (cant play what hasnt’ been released yet), and I’m hyping myself for Ni no Kuni’s eventual release even though I probably shouldnt be.  I’ve not heard much good about it besides its art direction and music.  And when the Japanese reviews came out, most said it was decent but not great. At first, I was hyped about WKC too and came back SEVERELY disappointed, as a matter of fact, I’ve had the sequel for months, and still have yet to get more than 5 or 6 hours in because its so bland and boring.

          I will say they generally develop games well on a technical level, I just dont get the holier than thou praise they seem to get whenever someone even mentions their name.  Yes, they are a good developer, but more often than not, their games tend to be designed well, but never come across as anything more than average, and dont tend to set any charts on fire.  But hey, wont stop me from being excited for Ni no Kuni considering it still LOOKS good (more a testament to Ghibli for the art).

        • LynxAmali

          -Gundam Age another Level 5 product. Beyond just being terribly
          written and horribly paced, is another mediocre work that does nothing.
          Sure it has a good idea of multiple gens, but done so wrong. The
          conflicts, the characters, and basically everything else you’ve seen
          everywhere else. But I mean they are so half assed here it’s not even
          funny. Ansem and Masked white guys relationship is given like 2 mins to
          develop and then it pulls the “I’m actually on the other side we must
          fight card” and it hopes you will care even though the extent of the
          friendship was basically done in a montage. Lets not even talk about the
          female characters who’s characters start and end at “I like the main
          character”. What PoS.
          I don’t think you’ve played the game.
          They expand on so much of that content it isn’t even funny.
          Hell, unlike the anime, Zehart, Emily and Asemu actually spend Christmas together, unlike the anime that just does loltimeskip.
          I might add that your comment about female characters?
          Who is Arisa?

          -The conflicts, the characters, and basically everything else you’ve seen
          everywhere else.

          What is Gundam?
          Chill. It’s just a video game.

          • Jordan Coleman

            I’m really only talking about the Anime, which I guess is mostly just a Hino thing. I haven’t played the game and have no interests to when I don’t really like the anime.

            And my comment about female characters was mostly aimed at the fist 2 gen love interests. For the first gen you have Flit’s girl who basically did nothing but complain about Flit piloting the Gundam to really no avail. it was pretty pointless and well there was nothing more to her then “I care about Flit. For Ansems she basically can be summed up as “MC is nice and saves me so I want to make smiley faces at him”. Thats really all she does and it’s boring.

            And yes the problem isn’t that they are cliches. Cliches can be done well. You can inject style into them or excute them well. I don’t belive Age does this at all.

            Gundam 00 had cliches. Tieria Erde was your typical cold anime character, but his growth could be seen through interactions with the main characters and was pretty well excuted making him a solid character. I don’t see any thing like that in 00. The one thing maybe done well is Flit’s role as a father.

            And no one’s angry here. We are all chill talking about stuff.

    • Paradox me

      Their games cover the gamut; uninspired (White Knight Chronicles), downright silly looking (Inazuma Eleven: Chrono Stone), fantastic (Dragon Quest VIII and IX, Dark Cloud 2, Ni no Kuni, Layton).

      Bland, if only compared to the obnoxiously gaudy offerings of many other Japanese publishers.

  • Patrick McShurley

    Inazuma and Danball would be nice.

    If we can keep the names the same, at least for Inazuma.

  • SirRichard

    I wasn’t even aware their US studio was being considered for becoming a development studio, I thought it was just all localisation. Good to hear, I’d like to see what they come out with.

  • Jake_Indiman

    Way to go Level 5! Wow Richard Honeywood?! That’s just crazy! I will keep my eyes peeled on future projects now!

  • Level-5 really F’d up on WKC… And where the hell is part 3…?

    • Anime10121

       You WANT a WKC 3? Unless you were talking about Dark Cloud 3, then we are in agreement:)

      • neo_firenze

        I though WKC was pretty damn good.  Felt to me like MMO battles translated very well to a single player format (without the annoying grindy MMO aspects), with a solid story, world was really cool.  Kinda struck me as very similar to Final Fantasy XI retooled to be a single player game.

        And OP, they at least did the PSP prequel game (WKC Origins) in English…in Europe.  Thankfully, PSP being region free makes it very playable if you can get your hands on a copy. 

  • Hines Green III

    Okay Level 5! I need a Rogue Galaxy 2 and Danball Senki/ The Little Battlers over here!

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    Hmm, this can be good or bad here lol.
    While i understand, Level-5 wanted to come out with a different type of game here, what makes me love Lv-5 here is their so called “Japanese style” game here and by doing this, i hope it won’t make Level-5 separate game we get here.

    Like outside of Japan we get all Level-5 american branch game while for the Japanese branch game, we will probably not get one.T_T

  • brian yep

    I wanna play Time Travelers~

  • puchinri

    Oh, goodness. That’s awesome! And cool to know that they have a part in Ni no Kuni. That also makes me very optimistic. I hope they can get other titles localized (IE would be great~).

  • Kyle Silva

    But I wanna see them localize games. Guild 01 and Guild 02, Professor Layton EVERYTHING + Layton Brothers,  Fantasy Life, Time Travelers.

  • anthony apduhan

    Then bring Inazuma Eleven in America Level 5 coz I want Dante Basco to voice Tsurugi Kyousuke even if I have to wait a long long LONG time for that to happen

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