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How Yasumi Matsuno Ended Up at Level-5

Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy XII creator being given freedom at new gig.

Matsuno finished up work on the PSP Tactics Ogre remake (shown above) for Square Enix and was nabbed by Level-5.

The big news in Famitsu this week is that Yasumi Matsuno, creative force behind games like Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy XII and Vagrant Story, is now an employee of Level-5, the Fukuoka-based studio that created Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven. The magazine has a lengthy interview with Matsuno and Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino. As always, Sokuho@Hokanko has provided a detailed summary.

First talk about making a game together started about a year ago, Hino told the magazine. However, Hino's real push to get Matsuno aboard came after the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre was completed.

Matsuno decided to sign on with Level-5 because he felt the appeal of Level-5 as a company. He also felt a common vision with Hino.

Matsuno said that he has a great impression of the Layton and Inazuma Eleven series. His nieces and nephews and his friends' kids won't play his games. Instead, when he asks them what they're playing, they will always respond Inazuma Eleven. Matsuno wants to learn from Level-5 and Hino's sense and ideas.

Hino had great praise for Matsuno as well, saying that he minds the details and is a "creator amongst creators." When Hino sees someone who has the thinking of a creator, he feels like he wants to work with them. Additionally, he felt that with Matsuno, Level-5 would be able to do things they'd been previously unable to do.

In bringing him to Level-5, Hino wanted Matsuno to freely do whatever he felt like doing. He also wanted Matsuno to do something new, and something Matsuno-ish. Matsuno remarked that in an era where it's difficult to try out new things, this opportunity to do just that him happy. While he's not sure what something "Matsuno-ish" would be, the fact that it's okay for him to make something that he wants to make and play means it's likely that the resulting product will be Matsuno-ish.

The interview didn't get too specific on Matsuno's first Level-5 production, only offering high-level hints. Famitsu's editors were shown some illustrations, and passed their impressions of these on to readers.

One illustration shows a helmeted knight holding a large shield. There's also an illustration showing what looks like units -- a unit with a rapier, a unit with an axe, a unit that looks like a sorcerer, and a unit that looks like an archer.

The illustrations are apparently credited to Hideo Minaba and Yuka Miyamoto. It's unclear if these two artists have also joined up with Level-5, or if they're just working freelance.

UPDATE 23:03 -- As Duckroll points out in the comments below, Miyamoto and Minaba have an art studio called Designation, so they're probably doing this freelance rather than being part of Level-5.

Regarding the game, Matsuno said that it's something he's had in mind from about 10 years back and is not an extension of his past works. If he'd been told to make another Ogre, it would be like this. (Based off the context, I believe he's talking about a game at the level and caliber of Ogre, rather than a game of similar style to Ogre.)

Hino said that he expects the game to be something that will be enjoyed not just by Matsuno's fans, but by Matsuno's nieces and nephews, and by kids. Matsuno said that he's making the game with the hope that it will be played by children.

Matsuno and Hino both hinted that the game won't have the same epic nature of past Matsuno titles. Matsuno said that he does not plan on taking two years for the game's production. One of their challenges, said Hino, is to make a compact game. He believes that it's possible they will give birth to something new as they undergo a "quick" production process. New titles are what will save the industry, he believes, and he feels they must plow the seeds for those new things. He approached Matsuno as one person who has this ability.

Hino explained that it would be easy to ask Matsuno to make a new Tactics Ogre or Vagrant Story, but this would just be a repeat of past titles. Instead, he wants to unearth the potential of people with talent by having them challenge things they've yet to do.

Matsuno closed off the interview with some words that fans should appreciate. The feeling with which he's working on this new game is akin to the feeling he had when making Ogre Battle on the Super Famciom, where he was told it was okay to make whatever he wants.

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