Level-5 President Talks Future Plans

By Sato . December 6, 2013 . 5:29pm

From quirky to heartwarming, Ni no Kuni to Youkai Watch, Level-5 have a wide variety of games they’ve been releasing for various platforms, and many have found success in their respective markets. CEO and president Akihiro Hino recently spoke with Famitsu magazine on what’s next in store from the company.


During the interview, Famitsu points out that Level-5 have become known for series such Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and asks Hino about some of the plans he has in store for the future.


“If I had to split it in two, then it’d be cross-media expansions for children for Nintendo 3DS, such as Youkai Watch and Inazuma Eleven, and then games for a wider audience such as Fantasy Life and Wonder Flick,” answers Hino. “Each target audience requires a different strategy in terms of hardware approach, so I’d like to think about more plans for that.”


Famitsu mentions that Youkai Watch, which is geared towards children, appears to have sold rather well since its release in July, and asks Hino about his thoughts on its reception.


“It’s actually still selling quite well,” says Hino. “In the case of Inazuma Eleven, the first game’s opening week saw about 40,000 copies sold, and it ended up selling about 400,000 in the end, and I see Youkai Watch going with a similar flow, so I believe we were able to create another successful title. I believe that we’ll be able to surpass that next time, so I’d like to continue focusing on titles made for children.”


The Level-5 president and CEO is then asked what he thinks was one of the major factors in the ghost-collecting RPG’s success.


“Whenever I’m thinking of plans, I always make the assumption of ‘this will be a big hit,’ so when it ends up actually being a hit, I often have trouble answering such questions. Everyone always says ‘monster, monster’ so I thought it’d be nice to maybe call them ‘Youkai’ [Japanese folklore monsters] for a change, instead. It’s actually quite simple, like that,” shares Hino with a laugh.


Next, Famitsu asks Hino if there are any series or genres he’d personally like to work on in the near future.


“Honestly, there’s a lot I’d like to work on, but at the moment I’m really interested in comedy,” shares Hino. “I’d really like to make a game that could make people laugh, I even put a lot of thought into this while thinking of stories for Youkai Watch.”


“I have a few here and there,” responds Hino when asked if he has any ideas he could share. “One of my ideas involves something different than what’s considered universally humorous. I’m thinking that there could be some kind of funny hint in there.”


A new Youkai Watch title is currently in development. Level 5 also have plans to expand Fantasy Life as a franchise. Both 3DS games have been recent successes for the developer, so it should be interesting to see how they will be expanded upon in the future.

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  • Joshua Myers

    Hey Level 5 stop being idiots and make Ni no Kuni 2 XD

    • Kaetsu

      I really wish I could of gotten into Ni no Kuni but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe a sequel could change things for me but otherwise I’d rather just have Level 5 focus on other games.

    • Guest

      The thing is, Ni no Kuni didn’t perform spectacularly on the Japanese
      charts, and Level-5 business being primarily there… Sadly, I doubt that’s one of the company’s priorities.

      • Did pretty well in the West, though. Also, their Japanese sales goals seem relatively modest. Surely it would be worth the cost of translating the games and throwing them up on the eShop. It seems like they should be able to sell at least half that in the West.

    • GH56734

      You know, Youkai Watch is essentially an improved battle system of Ninokuni (DS Version) just with a different setting.

    • Konnoke
  • 40

    Enough with the kiddie stuff. Rogue Galaxy 2!

    • JonathanisPrimus

      Tell that to the company that owns the IP, Sony.

      • 40

        Sorry *ahem* Get away from Nintendo and hook up with Sony!

        • Yeah, get away from the publishing partner that helped make them successful in the west in the first place. That sure makes a lot of sense.

          • GH56734

            At least he didn’t say Microsoft :P
            When you consider they hired them then cancelled a near-completion Xbox game (they lost a lot of money and time on it!) over Microsoft insisting on integrating the Xbox Live options and such… a service that would be discontinued two years after the projected release date.

            Though they did include XB1 among Wonder Flick platforms, they seem to have forgot that incident..

          • At least he didn’t say Microsoft :P

            I don’t see why people pooh-pooh Microsoft. Microsoft did more for Japanese games last generation than Sony did.

            They helped Namco Bandai get comfortable with HD development, they helped Square Enix expand their horizons, they helped Capcom introduce multiple new IP that went on to be fairly successful, and they even gave Hironobu Sakaguchi two high-profile projects to work on.

          • 40

            That’s subjective. I just think they have so much more potential to make really great games instead of BS games

          • That’s great and all, but clearly, millions of people don’t share your opinion on their games being “BS”. Nor does it look like Hino wants to change Level 5’s vision any time soon. They have a strategy that works well for them. Why would they want to change it? It makes no sense.

    • Afternoon Intergalactic

      This. I loved Rogue Galaxy to bits, it’s a shame it seems to have become a standalone title.

      • 40

        Yea and what would have been a fantastic way to start off PS4 games in Japan

      • “Kiddie stuff” Excuse you but Youkai Watch looks friggin great I hope we get it here.

    • Kai2591

      I’ve been longing for the kind of games they used to make like Dark Cloud and especially Rogue Galaxy!

    • Marco Bochatay

      Rogue Galaxy was by far the worst Level 5’s game.

  • JonathanisPrimus

    R.I.P. Ushiro. You’re were neither for kids, nor for mainstream audiences.

    • Marco Bochatay

      That’s why they turned into Time Travelers which wasn’t either for kids nor for mainstream audience…?

  • Guest

    One of their Future Plans should be ‘Release everything outside Japan”.

    • Lilith

      I don’t think running the company into the ground is not on their plans.

    • anthony apduhan

      One Problem… Most or some of the western audience (particularly the U.S.) don’t like “some” Level-5 games. As much as I like Inazuma and Youkai to be released in the N.A. some part of me doesn’t want to. Maybe because I fear it will get alot of bashings. I just don’t get why some US people are so picky with games/anime of a particular thing.

      • Shippoyasha

        They should release some good games and stop worrying about haters. Some people have an irrational and disproportionate dislike of anime styles. We can’t give into that. Much like Xseed, Atlus and NISA brings over super Japanesey titles no matter what. Plus, Level 5 games tends to be very family friendly anyway. It’s akin to people making a fuss over Studio Ghibli releases. It’s pure nonsense.

        • landlock

          I not bothered by there anime designs but apart from Ni no kuni there console RPG efforts have been fairly average Dark Cloud/Chronicle, Rogue Galaxy, White Knight Chronicles etc were all pretty poor-average IMO.

          Haven’t played Inazuma 11 but not really my sort of game.

      • Bacon_n_Lettuce

        I think Youkai Watch could actually do really well in the west. It could get the attention of the Pokemon-playing market, at least with the right advertising.

        • Alestaos

          Sorry but if theres no Eevee type character or monster than im nother bothered :P Joking aside your right that given a good marketing scheme and system it could make it big. And force pokemon to evolve in some aspects too.

      • Slickyslacker

        That’s the major caveat about most games like Youkai Watch and the Inazuma series. It’s mostly apprehension about whether or not they would be well-received by Western audiences, because their premises cater to Japanese gamers particularly. While Youkai Watch, for example, might do well enough if localized (it would be an instant buy for me, personally), letting titles like this outside of Japan is considerably risky. I’d bet that some of it would have to be re-written due to cultural rifts.

      • Marco Bochatay

        Inazuma Eleven is very successful in Continental Europe; Professor Layton sold millions in the West. So what are you talking about?

    • Pockystix

      part of that plan should really include Dark Cloud 3

      just sayin

      • Lynx

        Thats Sony now.

        I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said that.

        • brian

          Sony owns the series but Level 5 could contact them about continuing it.

          • Lynx

            That’s not how it works.

            Level 5 was HIRED to develop it.
            Sony is in charge of the series as a whole.

          • Codex

            I’m sure it was years ago Level 5 said they never continued it as there was never a cry for it from the fans… Either way Level 5 in its current status could request further developing that IP

    • Learii

      I wish that would happen

  • Kaetsu

    I LOVE Level 5 I really hope they get to make another Dragon Quest game or a new Dark Cloud. They also really need to localize more of their games.

  • Randgriz

    please make a vita game…

    • Ethan_Twain

      Can’t think of what that might be. They’ve done some good work on Sony platforms with Dark Cloud and White Knight Chronicles, but those IPs never sold terribly well. They’re pretty much dead. So if the old Playstation properties aren’t getting sequels and Mr. Hino wants to keep making games for children (which makes sense since those have been all of Level 5’s biggest hits) then I suspect we’ll see them stick to mobile and 3DS development going forward.

    • They did. It’s called Time Travelers.

      • JonathanisPrimus

        You meant to say they made a 3DS game ported to Vita, and PSP.

    • They released two, and they both sold terribly. Level 5’s market isn’t on the Vita. They aren’t into the otaku demographic nor into the hunting games market. All of their games target a very broad audience that includes both men and women, and unfortunately, Vita isn’t the right platform for that approach.

  • Will Jay

    I have to wonder what Danball Senki’s apparent absence from there means for its future…

    Anyway, I’m hoping they’ll get more plans for overseas releases of games sooner rather than later. Particularly in the US.

    • JonathanisPrimus

      I think we’ll see the fate of LBX shortly. The Yokai Watch anime is airing in the Inazuma Eleven timeslot. Are they really going to cancel one of their most consistent performers, or is LBX getting the axe?

      • Will Jay

        I’m thinking more in the long-term. I have no doubt IE will go on. A two-year dev cycle would do wonders for LBX.

    • Pedro Furtado

      I’m curious as to what will happen with the series going forward. The future does not seem too bright though :(

    • Bigabu Beaze

      I hope there is some new news about LBX. Wars was so great! The lbx design keep getting better and better!

    • Hiro Oozora

      I’m just hoping Danball can last long enough to get to Wars in to the US.

  • Rogerrmark

    I already lost my hope to see Fantasy Life translated.

    • Guest

      Who knows? Maybe if Nintendo would want to add even more *ahem* life to their 3DS lineup for 2014, localization could happen as it appeals more or less to the Animal Crossing huge audience.

      • I think they’re crazy not to. Not everything has to be a big-budget localization or a million-seller, but that seems to be their mentality. :(

        • Rogerrmark

          My thoughts exactly. Btw,now that I think about it, even Ni no Kuni wasn’t going to get translated without the help of Namco.

          What are ya doing,Level-5???

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            They refuse to localize anything without an anime :p

          • 3PointDecoupage

            Yokai watch has an anime! So where is it?

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            They need someone to pick the anime up, thats the point

          • Yeah, I’d love to play that. If Nintendo had any sense, they would have snapped up Youkai Attack and Fantasy Life at the very least, and for gosh sakes, Inazuma Eleven is already in English (and has an anime). Nintendo, y u do this 2 me

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          They localized weird shit and they put out useless golf titles on the virtual console.
          I think you=’d be suspect to say they have no mentality and just do whatever

          • I really liked Attack of the Friday Monsters. I wonder if it made a profit. Crimson Shroud, too.

    • InfectedAI

      Same. After that last update I got some more hope that they would localize it after finishing updating the Japanese version, but I’ve about lost all hope again. Shame, it looks fantastic. One of the best games on the system.

      • Ethan_Twain

        Eh… I wouldn’t lose hope so quick. Late localizations come through sometimes. Professor Layton games are always late, but they make it eventually. Prof Layton vs. Ace Attorney was super late too, but that also is gonna make it. Pandora’s Tower I think everyone had given up on before it was announced to make it to North America.

        Chin up, and have a little faith

        • InfectedAI

          Except Layton and AA are established franchises outside of Japan. Their localizations were practically inevitable. Fantasy Life is a completely different situation.

    • Renaldi Saputra

      there’s been a petition about it.. go check at change.org

      • GH56734

        It doesn’t change anything unfortunately.
        If you insist though, there are more direct communication channels than petitions. Not that this will change much.

        • Renaldi Saputra

          well, Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode now has more than 18k supporters of petition and Namdai UK had been impressed with it, waiting for further announcement

  • ragingmerifes

    Level 5 should be more ambitious sometimes. It’s too much of a niche company, a shade of what it used to be on PS2 era (Rogue Galaxy was beautiful)… start some new projects on different consoles. That’d be great. And start letting localization companies do some work for you.

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      Do you want them to hemorhage cash or something?

      • ragingmerifes


        • Nintendojitsu


      • landlock

        Well they usually partner with a big publisher for there console games.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          So you want the big publisher to go bankrupt?

    • Kai2591

      I love Rogue Galaxy :)

    • Pedro Furtado

      I think Level 5 is way more successful financially now than it was when they released Rogue Galaxy. I, for one, am much happier with the games.

  • brian

    Dark Cloud 3 and localize Time Travelers.

    • GH56734

      Well Dark Cloud 3 is impossible without Sony (IP holder) approving it AND funding it. And Sony is the type that gives up pretty quickly on their older franchises. Remember Ape Escape? Popolocrois? Skyblazer? I guess not.
      Time Travelers bombed in Japan. It’s a visual novel, too. If their higher profile games like Danball Senki (localization hinted to), Inazuma Eleven 3DS, Youkai Watch, and that Wonder Flick (they consider it very important for some reason) and Fantasy Life didn’t make it here yet, I simply don’t see them doing that one.
      I hope they would be open to Atlus/NISA/Xseed taking over that one (assuming it interests them at all).

      • brian

        Yeah, but the idea I had was at least ask if they’d be interested in it.
        I did get Popolocrois recently so I remember that and Ape Escape, but Skyblazer seems like it may have some copyright issues anyway.
        Time Travelers is just a thing that I’m clinging to a vague of playing localized, just like I have a vague hope Ushiro may come back from cancellation.

    • Blur Will

      some peoples never learned , and say shits again and again

      You should asked that to sony

  • Logan Moll

    I’m let down in the direction they keep going in. I would cream my shorts for a Dark Cloud 3. A White Knight Chronicles 3 on PS4 would also be amazing, or a DQ VIII style console–or handheld, I guess–DQ game would also be amazing. They have the ability to do all of these things, but they just aren’t, and that’s too bad. :/

    • golden izanagi

      with dark cloud 2 being one of my favorite games I would really be exited if they were making dark cloud 3.

    • Kaetsu

      I completely forgot Level 5 made White Knight. I loved that game although I never got around to the second game.

  • Herlo Rerelo
    • I tend to remember it once a year, watch the trailer and then cry for a few hours because Level 5 still haven’t announced that they’ve moved the game to a more recent system and are continuing production…

      It’s the kind of RPG I’ve been dreaming about for years and when they announced the game I was so hyped. And then all hope just vanished.. ;_;

    • JonathanisPrimus

      It was canceled because it wasn’t aimed at kids or casuals.

    • First time seeing this and it looks interesting. A very unique looking title.

  • ElektroDragon

    What the hell is Level 5 doing? Make another quality console RPG!

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      Making money.

      • GH56734

        Not through the western/international market then since there’s no new localizations announced aside from the Nintendo handled Layton and original Inazuma trilogy.

  • dragoon_slayer12

    I wish they would come back and do more adult games like Rouge Galaxy. Definitely one of the most talented developers out there, and my favorite next to tri-ace.

    • GH56734

      Tri-Ace… that reminds me none of their games post-2010 were localized… a similar drought to the Level-5 localization announcements recently actually :P

  • NoLastName

    This is really cool, I hope they make some big PS4 RPG, Dragon Quest VIII is one of my all time favourite jrpg’s

  • Nix the tutorials in their future games and I’ll be happy.

  • ni no kuni 2

  • Tsurugi

    What about bring Inazuma Eleven GO! games to the WORLD ! =D


    I just want Rogue Galaxy 2.

    Or do a full remake of Rogue Galaxy.

  • Tsurugi

    Sometimes I think Hino doesn’t imagine how BIG Level-5 is to us, there are many titles of them that we want in USA and he just think to release the game in Japan….

  • Landesca

    I wish they’d port Fantasy Life over to the US

  • Folk Hellfang

    I’m still pissed about Shiro and Little Battlers. Wait, what’s Japanese for black? Or did I get it right? The ghost game where you stalk/protect your still living girlfriend.

  • Setsu Oh

    even wonder flick looks like a kiddy grade game! WIDER AUDIENCES??? gimme a BREAK!

  • ShinMarui

    Where’s Ushiro? :(

  • Asakura

    Dark Cloud 3!

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