Submit a news tip

Akihiro Hino

This month, Yo-kai Sangokushi launched in Japan. Famitsu caught up with two of the most important people that made the collaboration title possible: Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino and Koei Tecmo CEO Kou Shibusawa. The interview contains talk of how Yo-kai Sangokushi came to be, trying to make the game appealing to kids, the partnership between the two companies, and more.

We now have a lengthy abridged translation of Famitsu’s interview. Continue on below to read it in full.

A new tweet from Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino has fans speculating that a new Inazuma Eleven title is in the works. Hino mentioned on Twitter earlier today that work is being done on various new games and anime, and we’ll be hearing about quite a bit of these at Level-5 Vision 2016 – the company’s (mostly) annual event where new announcements are made. Hino said at the end of his tweet, “Of course there is also that certain new title. I… (it’s too soon to say it)”.

We know of one big Level-5 IP which starts with an “I”. Naturally, that would be Inazuma Eleven. Perhaps we’ll see a new Inazuma Eleven game at Level-5 Vision 2016?

Inazuma Eleven has seen large representation on Nintendo platforms. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a new game is confirmed for the Big N’s systems, but there would be a decent possibility of that happening.


A whole bunch of developers spoke with Famitsu this week about their aspirations for 2016. Aside from what we posted regarding Etrian Odyssey V from Atlus’ Shigeo Komori, here are some of the other Nintendo-related comments we’ve come across:

Masahiro Sakurai: I want to enjoy every Sunday. But it’s not like the next job hasn’t been decided yet.

Rune Factory and Story of Season’s Yoshifumi Hashimoto: I haven’t announced new titles yet, but some are already on the move.

Level-5’s Akihiro Hino: In 2016, other than expansion of Yokai Watch’s world, we’ll also announce titles with brand-new world settings.


Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino is aware that making Yo-kai Watch a success in the west will be challenging. In an interview with Technobubble, he said:

“We’re working in a market packed with both Pokémon and all kinds of other attractive content, so for a new entry like ours, it was going to be challenging no matter what.”

One reason behind the tough localization process is due to the “yokai” term being inherently Japanese. In other territories, there isn’t a quick and direct equivalent.

As Hino said:

“To Japanese people, yokai aren’t monsters precisely — they’re a more special kind of thing. In the past, we used the term to refer to the personified souls of people, animals, or things that made contact with and grew attached to people.”

The only Yo-kai Watch title we’ve seen from Level-5 on a Nintendo console is the upcoming Yo-kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version. But could the studio expand its efforts to bring a proper title to Wii U, or even NX? Company CEO Akihiro Hino is certainly open to the possibility.

Hino said he “would definitely want to proactively consider it,” if Level-5 has a title that would make sense as a Wii U game. Taking things further, Hino expressed interest in potentially making games for NX if it can “bring Level-5 games to as many kids as possible.” Speaking broadly about Level-5, he added that if the company finds this to be the case, “it wouldn’t be impossible” to see its games on the system.

Hino also addressed Pokemon again, which has seen some comparisons to Level-5’s Yo-kai Watch series. He believes the two can coexist peacefully. Hino mentioned: “If kids are willing to buy both of them, I couldn’t be happier.”


Ever since the original unveiling of Yo-kai Watch, the series has drawn comparisons to Pokemon. Those comparisons are more prevalent than ever now that the franchise is starting to make its way overseas. Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino is fine with this, but feels “there are lots of differences” that set the two apart.

Speaking with GamesBeat, Hino said:

“We don’t really mind the comparison with Pokémon, but there are lots of differences. Yo-Kai Watch doesn’t take place in a fantasy world. The setting is like a real town in Japan, something closer to the user’s own life. It’s very relatable for kids. It’s something they can connect to their own life. We did localize it well, though, to make sure that kind of element carries through to the American version.

Another key point is that this isn’t just for kids, though. It’s for the whole family. We have elements that appeal to mothers and fathers as well, not just their kids. The franchise contains humor that can appeal to both kids and adults.”

Hino also spoke briefly about the localization of the next Yo-kai Watch game. When asked if it’ll take just as long to get Yo-kai Watch 2 in the west, he let out a chuckle and said, “It shouldn’t take that long.”


Yo-kai Watch has been a phenomenal success in Japan. The games and merchandise have sold incredibly well, and the series even has its own anime.

Why has Yo-kai Watch become such a hit in Japan? That question is something Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino tackled in an interview with Game Informer. He told the site:

“The reason behind the success of Yo-kai Watch, not only as the game title but as the entire franchise, I would say is the strong link between the different pieces of our franchise, centered around what we call Yo-kai Medals [which] contributed a lot. Kids in Japan ran to the store after seeing the Yo-kai Medals used in the TV series, which can not only be enjoyed as collectible toys, but are also interactive with the video game, the arcade game, and can be utilized in many more ways.”

Hino also commented on how Yo-kai Watch’s concept came about. Regarding this, he said:

“I wanted create an IP that is universal and long-lasting, while providing something new and highly relatable to kids today. Yo-kai are spooky beings which often appear in Japanese folklore, mostly related to either humans or objects we were once attached to. Though they are somewhat monster-like, I realized they had never been featured in video games. From there, I started thinking about some of the main characters, and the concept of Jibanyan – a pretty cat Yo-kai who got hit by a truck – came into my mind. In order to write a story which can be relatable to kids, we conducted robust kids research to understand them. We tried hard to capture what they are most concerned about – it was interesting to find concerns which I can relate to my childhood days, and the ones which were unique to kids today. Setting-wise, it was natural to have it take place in real world. Springdale is an ordinary town with characters who use modern devices and live normal lives, just as we all are now – which is why it is so relatable to today’s kids.”


When Level-5 initially mentioned Fantasy Life 2, most fans assumed that it would be on the 3DS just like the original game. So it was certainly surprising to see at the Level-5 Vision 2015 event on Tuesday that the title is being developed for mobile devices instead.

This week’s issue of Famitsu has an interview with Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino, and the magazine was also surprised by the change in platforms for the Fantasy Life series. Responding to this, Hino said:

I’d say Fantasy Life has elements and mechanisms which adults find soothing. Although children play games on dedicated game systems, recently many adults have been playing on smartphones.

Hino also mentioned that “The supported hardware for this game was decided based on thinking of an environment where more adults play.”

That may not have been the response that 3DS owners would have liked to hear, but it’s somewhat of an explanation as to why Fantasy Life 2 isn’t on Nintendo’s portable system. We’ll just have to hope that the IP will one day make a return to dedicated gaming hardware!

Layton 7 was first announced in 2013. At the time, it was slated for 3DS in addition to mobile platforms.

Layton 7 finally resurfaced today at Level-5 Vision 2015, but as a much different title. It’s now all about cards, a plot in which players must locate vampires among a crowd, and a 3DS is no longer planned. That being said, a Nintendo version hasn’t been ruled out.

Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino has said that he would like to bring Layton 7 to Wii U. Whether that interest pans out remains to be seen.


Manage Cookie Settings