|Industry||Video game industry|
(CEO and President)
|Products||Dark Cloud series
Professor Layton series
Inazuma Eleven series
Little Battlers Experience series
Yo-kai Watch series
Ni no Kuni series
Number of employees
|280 (September 2015)|
Level-5 Inc. (株式会社レベルファイブ Kabushiki-gaisha Reberu Faibu?) is a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka, Japan, best known for their Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, Ni no Kuni, and Yo-kai Watch franchises, among others. The company, which employs around 280 individuals, was founded in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino, after he departed from the now defunct Japanese developer Riverhillsoft.
Early in its history, the company enjoyed a close relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment, with many of its titles funded by and produced in conjunction with them. Starting in 2007, the company started self-publishing its titles in Japan, while Nintendo took over publishing on their systems internationally. In 2013, Level-5 was one of the ten largest video game companies in Japan, where it held a 3.2% market share.
Level-5 was established in October 1998 by Akihiro Hino and his development team at Riverhillsoft, following the release of OverBlood 2 in 1998. They had left so that they could continue to focus on creating 3D games. Since Hino did not originally believe that his team could become an independent developer, he formed a partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment, who would allow him to develop for their upcoming PlayStation 2 under the condition that he set up his own company. The name, "Level-5", was a reference to Japanese school report cards, where "Level-5" is the highest possible mark. Soon after being created, the company had eleven employees.
Level-5's first full-scale production was the action RPG Dark Cloud, developed under contract by Sony Computer Entertainment, originally for the Japanese launch of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000. However, it was delayed before the console's launch to allow further development, and eventually released in Japan in December 2000, and worldwide in 2001. Work immediately began on a sequel titled Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2 in North America). While not as successful as the first game, Dark Chronicle still gained critical acclaim and sold over half a million units worldwide.
Midway through 2002, the company had a substantial boost in recognition as it began development on three high-profile titles:
- True Fantasy Live Online for Microsoft, an MMORPG which was to become one of the premier titles for the Xbox and Xbox Live service in Japan before it was abruptly canceled in 2004.
- Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for Square Enix, who had handpicked Level-5 to develop the title under the supervision of series designer Yuji Horii and his team at Armor Project.
- Rogue Galaxy, the studio’s third RPG for Sony Computer Entertainment, with a larger budget and more creative freedom than its previous productions with the publisher.
In just four years, Level-5 went from small startup studio to one of the premier RPG developers in Japan, and have since enjoyed immense critical and commercial success. In early 2007, the company released its first fully self-funded and self-published title in Japan, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, which has since enjoyed incredible commercial success, shipping more than 840,000 copies to retail, and has officially transitioned Level-5 into both a developer and publisher of interactive video game entertainment in Japan.
Yasumi Matsuno, director of Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and the Ogre Battle series, briefly joined Level-5 in June 2011, who left the company after completing work on Crimson Shroud for the Nintendo 3DS.
In October 2015, Level-5 founded a spin-off company in Santa Monica, California, in cooperation with Dentsu, called Level-5 abby. Its purpose is to develop multimedia entertainment for the western demographic.
In 2009, Level-5 launched its Roid (Revolutionary Original Ideas Discovery) service, a mobile phone application that serves as a content delivery platform for mobile games. It is only compatible with NTT DoCoMo's i-mode mobile internet service in Japan. Users pay a monthly fee for access to exclusive games and social game functions. The platform debuted with six titles: Sloan and McHale's Mystery Story, Professor Layton and the Mansion of the Mirror of Death Remix, Chara Jo P, Yuuenchi wo Tsukurō Revolution, Treasure Island, and Elf the Dragon. The first three were developed by Level-5, while the last three were developed by outside companies.
List of games
|Title||System||Original release date||JP||NA||EU||AUS|
|Dark Cloud||PlayStation 2||December 14, 2000||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dark Chronicle||PlayStation 2||November 28, 2002||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King||PlayStation 2||November 27, 2004||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rogue Galaxy||PlayStation 2||December 8, 2005||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Jeanne d'Arc||PlayStation Portable||November 22, 2006||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Professor Layton and the Curious Village||Nintendo DS||February 15, 2007||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box||Nintendo DS||November 29, 2007||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inazuma Eleven||Nintendo DS||August 22, 2008||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Professor Layton and the Unwound Future||Nintendo DS||November 27, 2008||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|White Knight Chronicles||PlayStation 3||December 25, 2008||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Paul Sloane & Des MacHale's Intriguing Tales||Nintendo DS||May 21, 2009||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Tago's Mental Gymnastics #1 and #2||Nintendo DS||June 18, 2009||Yes||No||No||No|
|Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies||Nintendo DS||July 11, 2009||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Paul Sloane & Des MacHale's Intriguing Tales 2||Nintendo DS||September 3, 2009||Yes||No||No||No|
|Inazuma Eleven 2||Nintendo DS||October 1, 2009||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Professor Tago's Mental Gymnastics #3 and #4||Nintendo DS||October 8, 2009||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Layton and the Last Specter||Nintendo DS||November 26, 2009||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inazuma Eleven 3||Nintendo DS||July 1, 2010||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|White Knight Chronicles II||PlayStation 3||July 8, 2010||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ni no Kuni: Dominion of the Dark Djinn||Nintendo DS||December 9, 2010||Yes||No||No||No|
|Ni no Kuni: Hotroit Stories||Mobile phone||December 9, 2010||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask||Nintendo 3DS||February 26, 2011||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Danball Senki||PlayStation Portable||June 16, 2011||Yes||No||No||No|
|Inazuma Eleven Strikers||Wii||July 16, 2011||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch||PlayStation 3||November 17, 2011||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Little Battlers eXperience Boost||PlayStation Portable||November 23, 2011||Yes||No||No||No|
|Inazuma Eleven GO||Nintendo 3DS||December 15, 2011||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2012 Xtreme||Wii||December 22, 2011||Yes||No||No||No|
|Girls RPG: Cinderellife||Nintendo 3DS||March 8, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Ni no Kuni: Daibouken Monsters||Mobile phone||May 11, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Guild01||Nintendo 3DS||May 31, 2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Little Battlers eXperience||Nintendo 3DS||July 5, 2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Time Travelers||Nintendo 3DS||July 12, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Layton Brothers: Mystery Room||iOS||September 21, 2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Little Battlers eXperience W||PlayStation Portable||October 18, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Layton and the Phantom Thieves||iOS||November 14, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney||Nintendo 3DS||November 29, 2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Inazuma Eleven GO 2: Chrono Stone||Nintendo 3DS||December 13, 2012||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Inazuma Eleven GO Strikers 2013||Wii||December 20, 2012||Yes||No||No||No|
|Fantasy Life||Nintendo 3DS||December 27, 2012||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy||Nintendo 3DS||February 28, 2013||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Guild02||Nintendo 3DS||March 13, 2013||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Earth Devastating B-Grade Girlfriend Z: Space War||iOS||June 25, 2013||Yes||No||No||No|
|Android||August 12, 2013|
|Yo-kai Watch||Nintendo 3DS||July 11, 2013||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Little Battlers eXperience: W Super Custom||Nintendo 3DS||July 18, 2013||Yes||No||No||No|
|Fantasy Life Link!||Nintendo 3DS||July 25, 2013||Yes||No||No||No|
|Little Battlers eXperience: Wars||Nintendo 3DS||October 31, 2013||Yes||No||No||No|
|Inazuma Eleven GO 3: Galaxy||Nintendo 3DS||December 5, 2013||Yes||No||No||No|
|Yo-kai Watch 2||Nintendo 3DS||July 10, 2014||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Yo-kai Watch Busters||Nintendo 3DS||July 11, 2015||Yes||No||No||No|
|Yo-kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version[a]||Wii U||December 5, 2015||Yes||No||No||No|
|Yo-kai Sangokushi[b]||Nintendo 3DS||April 2, 2016||Yes||No||No||No|
|Yo-kai Watch 3||Nintendo 3DS||July 16, 2016||Yes||No||No||No|
|Fantasy Life Online||iOS||April 2017||Yes||No||No||No|
|The Snack World||Nintendo 3DS||April 2017||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lady Layton: The Millionaire Ariadone's Conspiracy||Nintendo 3DS||2017||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom||PlayStation 4||2017||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|True Fantasy Live Online||Xbox||Canceled||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
- "Market Data". Capcom. September 30, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
- Hino, Akihiro; Iwata, Satoru (2010). "Iwata Asks: Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracles, page 2". Iwata Asks. Nintendo of America Inc. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- "How Yasumi Matsuno Ended Up at Level-5". 30 June 2011.
- "Yasumi Matsuno leaves Level 5". 8 November 2012.
- "LEVEL-5 abby Inc.".
- "Level-5's ROID Service Kicks Off Today -- Andriasang.com". 24 December 2012.
- "Level-5 International America History & Products 2009". 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "Level-5 International America History & Products 2010". 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- "In shops now: Inazuma Eleven 2: Firestorm and Inazuma Eleven 2: Blizzard". 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
- "TGS 2009: White Knight Chronicles 2 Revealed". Kotaku.
- "今度の敵は未来から!? 『イナズマイレブン』感謝祭で映画版・Wii版・第4弾を発表 - 電撃オンライン" (in Japanese). News.dengeki.com. 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
- "3DS Inazuma Eleven Due This Winter". 19 June 2011.
- "Level-5 Bringing Mobile Hostess Sim to 3DS (andriasang.com, 10.20.2010)". 22 October 2010.
- "Girl's RPG Cinderelife - In Development". Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- GUEST. "Level-5 Vision 2010 Live Blog (andriasang.com, 10.19.2010)". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 21, 2010. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
- Gantayat, Anoop (2011). "First Professor Layton Crosses One Million". Adriasang. Archived from the original on 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2011-07-27.