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.