Level-5 President Aims To Surpass Yo-kai Watch With A New Project

By Sato . December 22, 2014 . 3:45am


Yo-kai Watch has already established itself as a hit franchise in Japan, but Level-5 president Akihiro Hino doesn’t plan on stopping there. He recently spoke with news website Wedge Infinity to talk a bit about what he has planned up for next year.


When asked about his thoughts going into the year 2015, Hino replied that 2015 will be a year where Level 5 create a hit game that’s even bigger than Yo-kai Watch.


“I have some ideas on taking something I liked during my childhood days and giving it a modern arrangement,” Hino continued. Similar to the Yo-kai Watch series, he plans on creating more than a game, making the new franchise another cross-media project with its own anime and manga.


He also explained that while Level-5 have been putting most of their time into working on Yo-kai Watch’s scenario, depending on the week, they also invest more time working on the new title.


“I believe that both Yo-kai Watch and Level-5 will be seen in a different image around this time of next year. We will continue changing in the year 2015,” he concluded.


Last year, Hino spoke of future plans and revealed that he was interested in experimenting with comedy, so this could possibly have something to do with the new project Level-5 are working on. Every single one of the company’s biggest hits to date have been Nintendo DS or 3DS games that are aimed at a fairly broad audience, so it should be very interesting to see how that factors into the equation, too.


For those of you wondering about when we’re getting Yo-kai Watch in the West, Level-5 haven’t made any official announcements regarding the game, but they recently announced that the anime will air in the U.S., Europe, and other regions. The company’s latest release in the West is Fantasy Life, which—like many of their other titles—was published by Nintendo.

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  • Jeremy Noble

    Any news about a New project from Level-5 makes me happy. Here’s to a rousing success! (And hopefully a PS3/PS4 JRPG. )

  • Adrian Duran

    so Level-5 will have surpassed Yokai Watch, before the West even gets the game

    • Well it’s a small company and they can’t handle to be on so many fronts simultaneously. I think they wanted to put Youkai “behind them” in terms of scenario/games/anime/releases, then have an easy time releasing them in the West (easy feat considering all they gotta do is employ a translating team) while concentrating on a new IP. What I am more worried about is their capacity of handling such popularity which surpasses Layton and Inazuma on so many levels. They’re no Nintendo and Youkai has reached Pokemon levels of success…

    • HarakiriKami

      Its kinda funny but, It took 3 years for pokemon to come to the states in full and that kinda exploded its popularity, making people wait for the merchandise after the games and anime pulled a 1-2 punch

  • Darkraiders

    I wish them luck, they will probably need it.
    Making hit isn’t that easy and often involve luck, you often see developers make a hit and never again after they are able to make another game anywhere near as popular, that’s why lot of developers milk they most popular franchise until they can’t anymore.

  • gquain

    Good luck to them even though I wouldn’t even know what this Youkai Watch is. But Level-5 is a good developer, they should be able to handle that!

    • HarakiriKami

      Its a HILARIOUS TV show and Shin Megami Tensei for children in terms of combat

  • Envatta

    Sometimes I think Japanese publishers and developers are afraid of money.

    A bit more on-topic; That’s a pretty lofty goal, especially for a company of that size. Then again, no one thought Yokai Watch would be this big. I just hope they don’t push themselves too much.

    • PenguinPlayer

      “Sometimes I think Japanese publishers and developers are afraid of money.”

      Why do you think so?

      • Envatta

        It’s all about them not localising games that Western players are crying out for, or games that would find a market easily. It reminds me of Bravely Default; SE told the developers that there would be no market and it would make no money, that Western fans weren’t interested. Yet, if you look at how well it’s done, they were clearly wrong.

        A lot of Japanese companies need to look to the outside world and realise that people are interested, especially since the Japanese gaming market isn’t so hot right now. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but the 3DS Dragon Quest games and Yokai Watch would be successful. Thankfully, this is seemingly happening, however it could still improve.

        • Sion12

          i get what you say but localising a game is a huge financial gamble especially for small Japanese company(most cant even afford any marketing). in alot of case(except big name) the potential profit is frankly not worth the financial risk and trouble and Just because a few vocal minority expressing interest doesnt mean it will even sell remotely enough to be profitable.

          the best way to solve this is using Kickstarter for localisation which player vote with their wallet which guarantee no loss to the developer

          • Envatta

            I more than understand that. I know it’s not a viable option in far too many cases. However, I’m talking about games that are highly wanted and requested, that pose little risk, especially to bigger publishers.

            If Bamco can release J-Stars on the PS3/4 and Vita, then it stands to reason that the aforementioned Yokai Watch and Dragon Quest games can come over.

            Sometimes the risk can even be worth it. Look at Fire Emblem: Awakening after all and even Compile Heart are doing well.

          • Suicunesol

            I think there are too many unknown factors to make such judgements. They aren’t afraid of money, they’re afraid of losing money.

            Sometimes they have some unexpected hits like Bravely Default and Fire Emblem (though I never expected FE to do poorly.) Yes, sometimes they’re wrong. But other times they have reason to be apprehensive. Dragon Quest might sell well, but it’s also a huge localization effort. Then you’ve got marketing, and then you’ve got to consider potential losses by not localizing a different game instead. And for Yokai Watch, I’m actually wondering how they’re going to market such a Japan-centric game besides turning all the onigiri into donuts. I think it’s a big risk.

            Yes, if you look around the internet, there’s a fanbase for even the most niche games. But I think Japanese developers feel they cannot just rely on “fans” to buy their game. They need many non-fans in order to really turn a profit. And it’s hard to predict how many non-fans will buy your game.

          • Envatta

            I know that they’re concerned with the financial risk. I was being sarcastic in my original statement; I do not believe for one second that any company is actually afraid of money.

            What I meant is that, I believe certain publishers and developers should take a few more risks when it comes to localizing. Yes, I know the risks and costs, everyone does. I’m merely stating that sometimes it makes sense to take the odd risk and that, more often than not, the risk actually pays off. A lot of the time Japanese companies are astounded when something niche does well, even when fans do want it and then continue to act as if every successful game they localise is a one off. Obviously, it goes without saying that there are success stories and utter failures.

            The fact that they almost seem to have a mistrust with fans is annoying as well. I just wish they would look to their Western fanbases more, take into consideration what they have to say and then act accordingly on however they see fit. If it’s a no, it’s a no and if it’s a yes then it’s a yes.

            I only used those games as examples as I know they’re pretty wanted. Regarding FE, I’m sure I remember reading that they thought it would be a failure here, but decided to chance it and well… y’know how it went. I mentioned J-Stars as the licensing for the cast must’ve been a pain to get and expensive as well, I remember them mentioning before that localisation was impossible before because of this. I don’t know why they changed their mind though.

  • dumbfodder

    Yokai Watch is just a blatant copy of Ben10.

    • Ferrick

      by that logic ben10 is a blatant copy of altered beast

    • HarakiriKami

      Haahaha you’re right. But Ben 10 is child angst. Youkai watch is comedy

    • Because of a boy wearing a watch with powers. . .? If we’re going down that road, we’re going to be on it for some time. x’D

      • Envatta

        You could even argue that the characters from Pokemon X and Y count. Even if it is technically a bracelet… :p

        • Lol, that’s true too.
          And actually. . . that’d be a really fun crossover. Specifically with X/Y, in my opinion.

          • Envatta

            That would actually. Maybe Nintendo will find it in their hearts to gift us next year.

            Mega Jibanya confirmed.

          • Lol, Mega Jibanya. If Nintendo and Level-5 don’t pursue this in some shape or form, I will be so disappointed in them.

          • Envatta

            Me too, now! We should set up a Kickstarter this instant. I can already see it being some kind of lion maneki neko.

            I can also see ‘Whisper and Gengar’s Ghostly Adventures!’, available only on Nintendo 3DS and 2DS

          • Yes! That way, even if we fail, L-5 and Nintendo will have to know and jump on it~.
            That sounds horrific and terrifyingly adorable at the same time.

  • Namuro

    Well, well! How bold! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.

  • Codename: D.A.V.I.D.

    I think it’s achievable for Level-5 to produce another hit after Youkai Watch, probably they will have some others not-so-successful projects in the road but eventually they will. But I wonder if this has something to do with the rumored PS4 title they were developing…

    • HarakiriKami

      Nope. Thats White Knight Chronicles 3

      • theBridgeburner

        Unlikely, considering the sales numbers of the previous WKC games. And to announce it at e3 entails it’ll have some rather large Western appeal… Dark Cloud 3 is the safe bet.

        • HarakiriKami

          … Did you just put Dark Cloud and Western appeal in the same sentence?

          Fucking loling my hat off right now.

          Dark cloud 3 is Sony’s IP. Aint happening unless sony funds it.

          Its also not what level 5 is referring to

    • I doubt Hino’s referring to their PS4 game in this case. He’s drawing comparisons to Yo-kai Watch and nothing that’s on home consoles will even come close to that kind of mainstream success in Japan.

      • Elpizo

        Excuse me. Is the page going to make an article about the new digimon game trailer?

        I don’t know if mods make article, so here is the trailer, so you can pass it to writer


  • Yaro

    inb4 expectations were not met

  • Nikhil Kulkarni

    inb4 ni no kuni sequel

    • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

      uh no. Ni No Kuni isn’t bigger than Yokai Watch

  • Elpizo

    I wish them the best of luck economically(yea probably the word doesn’t exist) :)

    I just hope they keep making stuff like Ni no Kuni or ushiro(even if it never came to be).

  • SetzerGabbiani

    I doubt it will happen, but it’s great that Level 5 was able to break through with the Yokai Watch series. They’ve discovered their bread and butter series, so now they can take a few more risks with different things.

    • HarakiriKami

      I thought their bread and butter was layton.

      And Inazuma eleven.

      Level 5 is like activision. They find something, and milk it for as long as they can while making new things they hope will become big so they can milk that when the other thing is dry.

      • Darkraiders

        Yeah, those are pretty popular franchise, but none of them sold anywhere near as much as Yo-kai watch do in japan.

  • I’m very interested in what it is, but I feel like the comedy part is probably a bit separate. That does make me think of Weapon Shop though~.

  • Hey man, shoot for the stars. Even when you miss, you still get past the Moon ;)

    I’m pretty sure you can’t manufacturer hits (phenomenon, more like it) like Yokai Watch turned out to be. It certainly helps that they’re experienced and know how to make quality games with interesting stories and likeable characters – and it helps even more that it was designed in a way to succeed in other media, especially as that anime and those toys – but it’s just not something one can will into existence. If it was, everyone would do it.

    That being said, I don’t care that much if it succeeds like YW. Even if they don’t get the attention of Yokai Watch, Level 5’s worst game is still better than most. These guys & gals have deserved this level of success ever since they shipped freakin’ Dark Cloud; I’m glad they have it and I’m glad they have all eyes on them for their next game. Mr.Hino’s come a long way from his days as Lead Programmer on Overblood at Riverhillsoft (any Game Informer Super Replay fans out there?)

    Though I wonder if he’s just referring to Wonder Flick or something else previously announced? WF seems pretty Dragon Quest-y to me; I could see that undergoing a name change and becoming quite popular. Also, did Majin Station ever come out? That game’s reveal trailer looked BAD ASS.


  • Alex Jones

    From what I have read so far of his interviews, Mr. Hino seems to be
    so aggressive and a real risk taker.And while their “next big
    thing”,even bigger than Youkai Watch, cannot guarantee that it can live
    up to its promises until released, I will bid two wishes: for
    them as a company & for us as consumers…

    *For them: I wish
    their future endeavors will be successful and the existing ones to
    continue their mileage in this harsh industry.

    *For us: I wish we
    can have a localization news of Youkai Watch and then eventually
    experience its brilliance.That way we can RELATE more to all this craze
    and probably be excited for their ‘new title'( although I can sense this
    new one will also take ages to sail overseas ) and feel the whole
    positive energy Level-5 seems to bear right now.

  • Tsurugi

    This is nice a game bigger than Youkai Watch, but I didn´t played the 1st and I am waiting IE GO 2 Chrono Stone….. Don´t forget that there is other countries besides Japan…..

  • Kornelious

    Could it be that project by the White Knight Chronicles developer they mentioned before?…..Though personally, I think the only thing that could surpass it would be Dark Cloud 3! :D

  • Timothy Takemoto

    “I have some ideas on taking something I liked during my childhood days
    and giving it a modern arrangement,” My guess is that it will be a
    modern version of “Mirror Man”. But, I think that the big success of Yo-kai
    Watch is that the transformatory symbols (omamori in the seminal Mirror
    man, coins, toothbrushes, medals etc) have started to
    Whisper, become Western. Keita is in that sense a
    bi-cultural hero with his two imaginary friends. His rather standard
    Doraemon/Pikachu friend in Jibanyan, and additionally his Philip-alike
    ipad reading, autodidactic garrulous Whisper. Keita
    watches in both senses of the word – he looks at
    himself and he can diferr/deffer himself in time. If Hino sensei remakes
    Mirror Man the Amulet should become a character, like Whisper.

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