Level-5, the studio responsible for the Professor Layton franchise and Ni no Kuni series, turns 20 this year. In celebration of that milestone, the studio is gearing up for a reveal of new property, a game of MMO-sized proportions.
In 4Gamer’s interview series “Harada Kills,” Bandai Namco producer Katsuhiro Harada spoke with Level-5 president and CEO Akihiro Hino, who dropped a hint about the studio’s next project (via Gematsu).
“We do have an idea. I’m not sure if we can call it an MMORPG or not, but we’re planning to make a big title on the same scale as one. Also, since we’re going into our 20th year, we want to make something we like. If we able to get support from talented people able to do things we can’t, then I think we’ll be able to make it. By the way, the game we’re preparing won’t be fantasy but rather modern day,” Hino said.
The most interesting nugget here is the “modern day” reference. In terms of RPGs, Level-5 is most well-known for Yo-Kai Watch and the aforementioned Ni no Kuni, both of which use an interesting blend of folklore and fantasy to tell their stories. By the sounds of it, the unannounced project will hue closer to realism.
Level-5 previously tried to make an MMO-style game. Hino mentioned True Fantasy Live Online in the interview. That project was in development for the original Xbox in the early 2000s, but saw cancellation in 2004.
Even though Level-5 plans to reveal its latest game in its 20th anniversary year, the game won’t launch in 2018. Hino likened the reveal to Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn, a Japanese exclusive Nintendo DS game that Level-5 announced for its 10th anniversary in 2008. Dominion of the Dark Djinn released two years later in 2010.
Level-5’s most recent game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, launched just last week to mostly stellar reviews. In the months ahead, the studio will bring multiple mobile games to market in Japan, including a pair of Yo-Kai games and Fantasy Life Online. The unannounced MMO-sized game would appear to be the only major platform game Level-5 currently has on its plate.
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