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Top Runner Akihiro Hino Discusses Ni no Kuni

Level-5 CEO hoped for faster DS version sales, adding new stuff to PS3 version.

Photo: Tomoki Hirokawa, Copyright NHK(Japan Broadcasting Corporation) All rights reserved.

Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino is due to appear shortly on Top Runner, a weekly NHK talk show that features hot personalities from various fields. On the program, which airs January 29 at 23:30, Hino will be interviewed by hosts Michihiko Yanai and actress Rena Tanaka.

NHK invited the enthusiast press to attend the recording session. 4Gamer returned with some commentary from Hino from a group interview session that followed the recording.

During the recording session, Hino said, with regards to DS's Ni no Kuni, something along the lines of , "It's okay if it just sells 50,000 units, I just want to make it." In actuality, the game is nearing 500,000 unit sales. Hino said that the game is exceeding his expectations in terms of how players are receiving it. He admitted that he'd wanted it to sell at a faster pace, but the sales performance is gradually improving.

The press asked Hino to give some indication of how complete the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni is. It's quite far along, said Hino -- a good thing, since it's due for release in 2011. The current aim for development is to see how many new elements, things that weren't in the DS version, they can add.

When asked about target age group for the PS3 version of the game, Hino explained that because it's a Studio Ghibli product, the game targets both adults and kids alike. It has elements for all ages.

What's surprising about this area is that Hino once used to say that making something work with all ages is impossible. However, this is the norm for Studio Ghibli movies, and it's a trait that Hino believes Ni no Kuni has been able to carry over.

The Top Runner program was recorded over a two hour period, but the footage will be cut down to 30 minutes for the broadcast. Topics of discussion include the DS version of Ni no Kuni, the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni, complete with a play session by Tanaka, a glimpse at Level-5's Fukuoka home office, and a conversation about Level-5's most famous serious, Professor Layton.

During his post recording interview session, Hino noted that this is the first time Top Runner has featured a game creator in over ten years. The last time was in 1997 with Kenji Eno. Regarding this, Hino said that he was pleased to be given the chance to, in a sense, speak as a representative of the game industry.

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