Level-5 CEO Talks Studio Ghibli And Professor Layton’s Success In The West


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This year will see a few new game releases from Japanese developer Level-5, including a new title in the Professor Layton series as well as Ni no Kuni 2. The developer’s CEO, Akihiro Hino, recently spoke with Glixel at this year’s E3, during which he discussed many topics, including what it’s like to work with Studio Ghibli, a company which usually produces animated films as opposed to video games. In addition, Hino also touched on the popularity of the Professor Layton series and what makes it so appealing to audiences in the west.


Glixel: Were there difficulties involved in interfacing with Studio Ghibli, a company that usually makes animated movies rather than games?
Hino: Working with Studio Ghibli wasn’t difficult, to be honest. They’re so good at putting that emotion and feeling into the movie characters – the whole “acting” aspect. That’s something games don’t usually have. They’re a lot better at it than our company. By working with them, we were able to learn the ropes and really “level up” on showing emotions through characters in our games.


Level-5 has made a lot of Japanese role-playing games of varying types, such as Dark Cloud, but it wasn’t until Professor Layton that you had a game that really caught on with Western audiences. Why do you think that is?
When we created Layton, it was aimed at Japanese consumers. But we took a lot of elements from European animation and movies during development. We studied those color palettes and did it in that style. So, there is this really fantastic world, and it appeals to a lot of people across cultures, not just in Japan.


Does it frustrate you sometimes that Professor Layton has remained so popular while some of your JRPGs have remained niche, at least in the States?
I mean, these games are focused for Japan, so it does have that kind of feel to it. With Dark Cloud, we were trying to make an original fantasy world, but Rogue Galaxy was more on the realistic side, since it’s a sci-fi game. So, maybe that fantasy feel that people associate with Level-5 was lacking compared to our other games, so that might have been why Rogue Galaxy was less successful. To me, Layton is a perfect example of that fantasy world coming alive, and that’s why it’s been able to be so successful over the years.


To read the rest of the interview with Hino, you can go here.


Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy will release for iOS and Android devices on July 20th. The Nintendo 3DS version will also release on July 20th in Japan, with North America and Europe getting it on the 3DS sometime in the latter half of 2017. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom will release for the PlayStation 4 and PC on November 10th, 2017.

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Former Siliconera staff writer and fan of JRPGs.