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Capcom and Level-5 Teaming Up

Keiji Inafune relays great praise for Akihiro Hino in recent interview.

Tokyo Game Show attendees sample the PlayStation 3 version of Ni no Kuni in Level-5's booth on the show's first press day last week. The Diamond interview was conducted prior to TGS.

One of Capcom's surprise announcements at the Tokyo Game Show was Asura's Wrath, a tie-up project with Naruto and .hack developer CyberConnect2. But it looks like Capcom has been meeting with another major Fukuoka-based developer as well.

Business information site Diamond Online posted late last week a transcript of an interview with Cacpom's Keiji Inafune and Level-5's Akihiro Hino. In the interview, Inafune revealed that the two are working together in some capacity.

The site asked Inafune to verify some supposed rumors about the Capcom and Level-5 teaming up. Replied Inafune, "This rumor is true. Right now, the two of us, with our staff, are working together on some truly interesting things. Even though Mr. Hino is younger, he's someone I respect. I wanted to try working with him, so I contacted him."

The two did not provide further clarification on whatever it is they are working on.

Elsewhere in the interview, Inafune explained what exactly it is that he respects about Hino. "The thing I most respect about Hino is his work ethic." He joked, "Before I met Hino, I had confidence in the amount of work I was doing, and even thought that maybe I was the hardest working person in the game industry. But after meeting him, I thought, 'I'm probably not number one.'"

Inafune also had praise for Hino's ability to show results. "The Professor Layton series has shipped 9.5 million units worldwide. The Inazuma Eleven series has shipped 2.7 million units domestically. Who wouldn't want to work with someone like Hino, who works hard and also produces results?"

Hino is apparently so busy with work that the Diamond interview had to be conducted at Level-5's home office in Fukuoka. Capcom is based in Osaka.

Separate from the talk of working together, Hino detailed some of his plans for overseas expansion. This year, Hino explained, he and his staff were at E3, but mostly in a learning experience. "Next year or maybe the year after that, we'd like to have Level-5 exhibit at E3. While it's recently become normal for us to exhibit at the Tokyo Game Show, to exhibit at E3 we feel that we have one more mountain to cross."

As of this year, Level-5 has an office in Los Angeles. The company has also said that it hopes to expand to Europe in the future. However, Hino told Diamond that he has no plans to take Level-5 public. Explained Hino, "More than making our company big, our number one goal is to develop the Level-5 brand."

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