Submit a news tip



Level-5 CEO on why Layton has been a success in the west, continued popularity, series’ origins, more

Posted on July 9, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in 3DS, DS, General Nintendo, News

A new interview has appeared with Level-5’s CEO. Glixel recently spoke with the company’s Akihiro Hino.

Hino had plenty to say about the Layton series, including its success in the west, continued popularity today, and how it came to be in the first place. He also commented on other topics as well. These include how Level-5 is different from other developers and how it has changed as a company, and more.

You can read up on notable excerpts from the interview below. Head on over here for the full interview.

On why Professor Layton was really Level-5’s first game that caught on in the west…

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.

On any frustration that Professor Layton has remained so popular while some of Level-5’s 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.

On what led him to the idea of Professor Layton…

We started creating Professor Layton over 10 years ago. Back then, there was a moment where “brainteaser” type of games were really popular. There was a book in Japan I really liked called Atama no Taisou, which translates to something like “Brain Exercising.” I wanted to make a game that was similar to that. Since there was another Nintendo DS game with a similar title, I figured a game like that would be a big hit. But because the trademark for “Brain Exercise” was already taken, I had to try something different. I reached out to the author of the book, Akira Tago, in collaboration with him, I decided to make a new game with puzzle-solving elements, but with a story layered over it. And that’s how we made Layton.

On why Layton has remained successful today…

I believe that the main reason is that the Professor Layton games are designed from everybody, across the age spectrum. And the reason for that is, even if you’re a non-gamer, or you’re not good at solving puzzles, there are still aspects of the game they will enjoy. We always make sure of that.

On what makes Level-5 different from other companies…

Our mission is to create new intellectual properties. We strive to make new IP every year. That’s not to say others are not doing it, but we strive to be creative, rather than just making lots of profit or generating lots of revenue. That’s really our focus. Though revenue is good, of course.

On the claim that many gamers aren’t familiar with Level-5’s name in the west…

Well, I think it’s worth splitting the West in two territories for this kind of question. In North America, I agree with you. We haven’t had a ton of success, besides Layton. But we’ve had incredible success in Europe. For a lot of our games, we sell more copies in Europe than in Japan, like Layton. Maybe the Dark Cloud series was a hit title in North America, but most of our stuff is more successful in Japan. It’s just how it is.

On how Level-5 has changed as a company…

One obvious change is the size of the company. Whether you measure that by headcount or revenue, we’ve grown tremendously over the years. But the biggest change when we decided to get out of our comfort zone of being just a developer, and decided to become a publisher. Getting licenses, doing the sales and marketing, and moving into the cross-media business to help support our IP, with television and movies. People didn’t expect Level-5 to do those things. We’ve developed a capability in different areas of entertainment that not a lot of gaming companies have.

On the favorite game he’s worked on…

My favorite is definitely Professor Layton. It was the first title we worked on as a publisher, so I was able to focus on every little detail. We all worked so hard on it, as a result, we delivered it, and people really loved it. On the producer and consumer side, it made the best result. That’s what matters.

Leave a Reply