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Level-5: understanding Japan’s best-kept secret

Thursday, 6 December 2012 08:58 GMT By Dave Cook

Level-5 has created some of the most successful Japanese exports of the generation, yet its inner workings remain a mystery. Dave Cook speaks with the CEO Akihiro Hino to gain some insight.

Level-5

Based in Fukuoka, Japan. Founded by president and CEO CEO Akihiro Hino.

Creators of Professor Layton and the Curiuos Village, the Ni No Kuni series, Inazuma Eleven, Dragon Quest VIII, Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy.

Level-5 has a busy schedule for 2013, with key future releases Fantasy Life for Nintendo 3DS, Gundam Age and Little Battlers to look forward to.

The city of Fukuoka rests on the northern shore of Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island. It’s said to be a place where metropolitan living, clean streets, and innovation are commonplace, and serves as one of the country’s key entertainment-producing hubs. Among the prosperity and potential sits Level-5, arguably one of the most successful game studios in Japan today.

Founded in 1998, Level-5′s notoriety in the West has grown considerably over the years, thanks to critically-acclaimed releases such as the stellar PS2 role-playing epic Dragon Quest VIII, and of course its highly successful Professor Layton series, which saw it building a strong working relationship with Nintendo.

The Layton series is itself a phenomenon – having surpassed lifetime sales of 13 million units sold in March this year – but it’s still rare to hear the company talking about its good fortune, or about the way it operates internally. Typically, Nintendo or other publishers do all the talking on its behalf.

Here in the West, developers and their publishers often wax lyrical during pre-planned and often-expensive press junkets, giving game critics an insight into how they function. Yet here is Level-5, a company that remains relatively guarded in the West, saying very little on these shores itself, but still enjoying significant success.

It’s a mystery to many, yet a growing number of its games are globally recognised. In 2010, Level-5 released a set of photos from within its lush Fukuoka HQ, giving the impression that the studio was doing rather well indeed.

Try this glittering view on for size:

This rare glimpse sparked new interest in the press concerning Level-5′s inner workings, and highlighted a studio enjoying great success across the globe. It’s a studio that has always fascinated me, yet I’ve actually known very little about it.

I was lucky enough to secure an email interview with Level-5 President and CEO Akihiro Hino in an attempt to strip back some of the mystery and ask him about how the company operates, the role of its newly-opened ‘International America’ studio, and its next releases Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney.

It’s important to note that Hino conceptualises and produces every game that comes out of Level-5, suggesting that he has a good eye for quality. In fact, Hino holds standards in high regard, as suggested in his official Level-5 mission statement. This keen eye for quality and bankable concepts is an asset that has helped the studio become one of the ten largest game companies in Japan today.

Among his company’s many qualities, Hino attributes Level-5′s current standing to its broad reach beyond Japan’s borders, “I believe that it’s because some of our original titles such as the Professor Layton series or the Inazuma Eleven series have gained so much traction outside of Japan.

“I also believe that it’s because we put in the time and effort to make every single release a success, even if it doesn’t end up becoming a franchise. Our company started with only ten people, and we’ve grown to house close to 300 staff as well as new departments, such as PR, marketing, and sales. We’ve also expanded our stage beyond video games into anime, manga, and movies.

“Time moves extremely fast in this generation, and so it is very important to predict what audiences want now more than ever before.”

“But we still maintain the ideals we had at the beginning: We want to create five-star titles that everyone can enjoy. We’re striving to become one of the top entertainment brands in the world.”

It didn’t start this way for Hino of course, as he first got his foot in the door at now-defunct studio Riverhillsoft in the early ’90s. His first job was as lead programmer on PlayStation survival horror title Overblood, and after work had wrapped on the game’s sequel, Hino decided to branch off with a group of colleagues with a view to creating his own company.

Hino was initially unsure of his ability to form a company that could compete as an independent studio, so he turned to Sony and began talking business. Sony quickly offered him a PlayStation 2 publishing deal on the provision that he create his own studio first, and as such, Level-5 was born. In 2000 the studio began work on its first title, the critically-acclaimed RPG Dark Cloud.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Level-5 released its first self-published game: the runaway Nintendo DS hit Professor Layton and the Curious Village. While the game was published by Nintendo in the West, Hino had proved that his growing studio could stand up on its home turf among a sea of giants.

Hino agreed however that these are now volatile times, and that the gaming populace and market at large are becoming harder to predict as the industry advances, “I believe that our success can be attributed to LEVEL-5’s speed and flexibility as an organization.

“I may be at the helm, but our greatest strength as a company is our ability to adapt quickly so that we don’t miss out on opportunities, whether they are in production or advertising. Time moves extremely fast in this generation, and so it is very important to predict what audiences want now more than ever before.

“I believe we will eventually see things separate into two polar extremes,” Hino added in regard to the way software might shift moving forward, “One type of game that can be picked up and played on the go, such as those on cell phones for example, while console and PC games will be more cinematic, with higher quality imagery. Games continue to grow and develop based on these loose definitions.”

“Ni no Kuni began as a concept that for our 10th anniversary as a company, we wanted to create something that we were passionate about and that would have meaning, instead of focusing on sales.”

In an attempt to catch wider trends and to branch out into the global market, Level-5 opened its first Western site earlier this year, dubbed ‘Level-5 International America’. The studio recently released the GUILD01 collection on Nintendo 3DS, which is a four-game compilation featuring contributions from Grasshopper Manufacture founder Suda 51, creator of Dreamcast oddity Seaman Yoot Saito and Ogre Battle creator Yasumi Matsuno.

I asked Hino what Level-5 International America exists to achieve, and whether or not this expansion overseas could lead to a collaboration with Western studios further down the line, “One way they benefit us is to help us understand the culture outside of Japan. Another is to make LEVEL-5’s entertainment available to everyone in their native language. Level-5 International America is an invaluable partner to making these things happen.

“We don’t have any plans to partner with any Western studios at this time. However, these types of collaborations between two popular studios seem to create hype and set player expectations that could be compared to the feeling you get at a celebration in some ways.

“From a developer’s point of view, these opportunities are very appealing, as we get to understand and learn each other’s culture, techniques, technology, and see a new point of view on product development.”

So that’s not a ‘no’ on the Western collaboration front, but given Hino’s scant reply to questions regarding the way in which his studio operates, I got the feeling that it’s still an area that remains shrouded – whether this is deliberate or not remains up for debate.

Thankfully Hino seemed much happier to discuss the studio’s incoming releases – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney – due for release on PS3 and 3DS next year respectively.

Working with the ‘Disney of Japan’

Hino believes that through Level-5, and his involvement with local movement the Game Factory Friendship, he can help turn the studio’s home of Fukuoka into what he calls the “Hollywood of the gaming industry.” Collaborating with Studio Ghibli – widely regarded to be the Japanese equivalent of Disney – is a solid step towards realising this lofty goal.

The partnership resulted in the development of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on PS3, and the Japan-only DS release Ni no Kuni: Shikkoku no Madōshi. The PS3 game has yet to launch in the West, despite releasing in Japan back in November last year.

Hino confirmed that the delay is largely down to translation, with the game’s entire script resulting in, “a million Japanese characters.” Given the size of the RPG, it’s no surprise that localisation has taken so long.

“We gave Studio Ghibli and Momose-san a general plot idea and the high concept of the world. Then we gave them complete freedom to create their own world that would realise Studio Ghibli’s style to the fullest.”

I ask Hino to go back to the beginning, and to recall how the collaboration with the artistic driving force came about, “Ni no Kuni began as a concept that for our 10th anniversary as a company, we wanted to create something that we were passionate about and that would have meaning, instead of focusing on sales.

“We discussed the idea with Studio Ghibli to give the game its unique identity, which is more important than anything else when creating a game. We had many discussions with Momose-san, the animation director from Ghibli, about each character’s concept art, the art boards, and the story boards.

“We also had the actors give us their performance advice at the motion capture studio for direction. Momose-san was overjoyed that the game ended up very close to Studio Ghibli’s hand-drawn animation style, to the point that it’s like playing a game inside a Studio Ghibli film.”

Hino’s not wrong. Ni No Kuni really does capture the essence of what makes Studio Ghiibli’s films so endearing. It follows orphaned boy Oliver who is sucked into an alternate reality and begins a long quest to find his mother Arie. it’s a turn-based RPG that feels like a solid amalgamation of Level-5′s work to date.

It has the art style of Ghibli combined with the colourful palette of Dragon Quest VIII, the charm of Professor Layton and the strategic thinking of Dark Cloud, Rogue Galaxy and other Level-5 titles. It’s a wonderful celebration of all the things Hino strives for, and its an end-product that relied heavily on mutual respect.

“We gave Studio Ghibli and Momose-san a general plot idea and the high concept of the world,” Hino explained. “Then we gave them complete freedom to create their own world that would realise Studio Ghibli’s style to the fullest. Since we gave them free reign to work exactly as they do when creating an animated film, we did not ask them to do anything outside of their comfort zone. All-in-all it went very smoothly.”

The puzzling professor

Level-5 is also working on the madcap Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney for Nintendo 3DS, in with the studio’s flagship hero crosses paths with Capcom’s blundering lawyer Phoenix Wright. The game takes the pair back to the days of witch hunts, in which innocent women were charged with witch craft – which of course is the perfect kind of court case for Wright-flavoured escapades.

It’s a bizarre crossover, but the project’s strange nature is exactly why Hino pursued it in the first place, confident that the freedom of both franchises would yield positive results, “When the project began, I was very excited to see what kind of story would evolve when the worlds of Professor Layton and Ace Attorney were merged.

“The main characters wander into a place where knights and magic are reality, and they have to tackle a large puzzle called a Witch Trial in a world where common sense is invalid. The story unfolds in a way that’s never been done in either series, and I think that players will be excited to see how it all works.

“We have many, many elements included in the game, and it will not only be a puzzle-solving game, but true entertainment.”

“It’s interesting how at first, having the two characters and their distinctive styles in the same game seems very fresh and unique, but as you progress through the game, the two characters and their worlds start to collide and this fusion starts to feel like it was normal all along.”

Beyond Level-5′s crossover, the core Layton series is approaching its final chapter. The game’s working title is Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies, and it’s also in development for 3DS. Hino teases that this will be a vast, globe-spanning outing for the professor, and one that the studio has gone to great lengths to achieve.

Hino explained, “We are preparing some grand mechanics that are fit for such an end. I think the story will also end up being the best in the series as the truth behind Professor Layton and all the characters who have become regulars in the series is revealed.

“This will be an adventure that traverses the entire world, a first in the series, allowing the player to move around the world map freely. And of course, the sheer volume of puzzles will be greater than ever before. We have many, many elements included in the game, and it will not only be a puzzle-solving game, but true entertainment.”

“When establishing LEVEL-5, I was set on creating games that would bring the children of today the same excitement I felt as a child. This single desire is what inspired us to start this company.”

Will the series continue on with a new lead or off-shoot? Hino isn’t entirely down on the idea, “I don’t know for sure. We haven’t planned anything yet, but I feel that there are many great possibilities in the style of Professor Layton, so we many end up creating something similar to it or in the same vein.”

While Layton’s adventures are coming to a close, his mark on the industry – in terms of sales, critical reaction and the educational nature of its puzzles – have been felt far and wide. Looking back, Hino is grateful for the series’ success, and for the success is has brought to Level-5′s door.

“Yes. It has been deeply rewarding,” he admitted, “being that Professor Layton was the first title we published ourselves here in Japan. Of course, I always hoped that it would be accepted in the West, but I never expected it to become this popular. It’s the greatest feeling to know that Professor Layton is so well loved in the United Kingdom, because the series is set in England and the character is modelled as a true English Gentlemen.”

Level-5 is an entity that has enjoyed great success so far, penetrating Western markets with a great deal of success, and enjoying the kind of sales that should ensure its future for many generations to come. It’s refreshing that Hino has never lost site of what makes games special along the way.

Going back to Hino’s official company statement one last time, there is a particular line that sets out his vision for Level-5, and it paints a noble, humble view on why his studio makes games in the first place.

“When establishing Level-5, I was set on creating games that would bring the children of today the same excitement I felt as a child. This single desire is what inspired us to start this company.”

Judging by the playful, entertaining nature of Level-5′s games, and millions of titles it has managed to sell worldwide, I’d say Hino has stayed the course so far. Wouldn’t you agree?

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9 Comments

  1. matirishhh

    Amazing studio. Very good interview Dave. You could also attach the latest behind the scenes video from Ni-no Kuni.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 funnily enough I wasn’t aware of the clip until this morning, thanks to the way my shift works. But good point, I should attach it :)

    Thanks for the feedback!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    Level 5 is one of the few remaining great examples in Japan for the quintessential eastern gaming experience.

    Although White Knight Chronicles was honestly utter garbage, almost everything else this studio has released has been absolutely stellar, and they are the benchmark for JRPGs in general. Dragon Quest VIII is still one of the greatest JRPGs ever made.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 “Dragon Quest VIII is still one of the greatest JRPGs ever made.”

    Absolutely :)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    It was the first time I evet played an RPG and truly, genuinely felt like I was in a huge world of immense scope and size. And thats saying a lot, considering I’m an Ultima fan.

    It completely redefined the genre and set incredibly high new standards for the genre in general. Even to this day, very few other video games have been able to come even close to matching its sense of scale and immersion.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Hino has such a strong hand in the involvement of every game the company produces. Level 5 is one of the very few companies where I can say that a demand for excellence and quality isn’t just PR buzztalk, but a genuine mindset of the studio. I hope these guys keep going for a long time to come – Square Enix could learn a thing or two from them right now, to be honest.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dragon246

    Great studio, although they aren’t doing very hot in japan right now, with some big releases not living up in sales. Hope they jump back though.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. KrazyKraut

    Some weeks ago I played Overblood 2 on PSX and read Akihiro Hino in the opening credits…sounded familiar and BAM I checked and knew where I heared it. Thx for the interview.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @7 small world :) No worries, cheers for reading.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. kwando1313

    Hmm… Was wondering about this part here: “Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney – due for release on PS3 and 3DS next year respectively.” Can we take that as confirmation that Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney will be localized for next year?

    #9 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Nintendo has released update hardware life to date sales figures. According to figures released in Nintendo’s latest financial briefing, the 3DS has sold over 50 million units, and spawned 215 million software sales. The poor old Wii U is still languishing at under 10 million hardware sales, with 52 million software sales to its name. […]

  • Destiny heavy ammo bug to be fixed, probably won’t break everything else

    Praise the Sunbro, Bungie is finally going to fix the heavy ammo bug in Destiny. If Destiny has one bug that has gone too long unresolved, it’s the heavy ammo issue. For quite a while now Guardians wearing armour that increased heavy ammo capacity have found their supply emptied whenever they respawn, return to orbit […]

  • MLB 15 The Show continues year-to-year saves, has real time sun and shadows

    MLB 15 The Show is going to be oodles better than last year’s effort, judging by a list of planned improvements. SCE San Diego has released a list of features and improvements coming to MLB 15 The Show. For those keen on the franchise the news that year-to-year saves are making a return is an […]

  • Nintendo outlines 3DS and Wii U release dates for the upcoming year

    Nintendo has published a list of release dates for upcoming 3DS and Wii U games. There aren’t a great many surprises on offer, unfortunately, but if you’rew wondering what’s next for your faithful 3DS and Wii U, you can now consider yourself fully informed. It’s worth noting that these dates are subject to change, and […]

  • Majora’s Mask Hyrule Warriors DLC is just too, too cute

    Majora’s Mask might be the creepiest Zelda but its Hyrule Warriors incarnation is so adorable I don’t know whether to eat it or tuck it up in a little blankey. The Majora’s Mask DLC hits Hyrule Warriors is due on February 5, and includes a version of young Link so sweet that I need a […]

  • Fahrenheit remaster doesn’t play nicely with unusual Steam names, apparently

    Fahrenheit will reportedly not work for you if you have special characters in your Steam name. Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy as it is sometimes known, has been re-released on iOS, Linux, Mac and PC thanks to Aspyr Media. It’s not much of an upgrade, but it is pretty cheap and a great way to experience […]

  • Bloodborne PS4 bundle pops up on Amazon Spain

    Bloodborne should definitely get its own PS4 bundle. It just makes sense. A Bloodborne PS4 bundle has popped up online, although there’s been no official announcement form Sony. Amazon Spain listed the pack, which includes a 500GB console and goes for €440. In other words it’s very similar to existing game bundles and doesn’t include […]

  • Ermac joins Mortal Kombat X cast

    Mortal Kombat X will see the return of the red-clad ninja with origins in myth and glitches. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Twitch stream made good on NetherRealm’s promise of a new roster reveal. As a few of you guessed from the teasers, the latest character to be announced is Ermac, another of the ninjas. Like […]

  • Badland: Game of the Year Edition coming this spring to multiple platforms

    Frogmind Games has announced it will be bringing its action-adventure game Badland to multiple platforms this spring with Badland: Game of the Year Edition. Initially released in 2013 on tablets, the game is a mix of physics-based gameplay with varying level designs and power-up featuring cloning, growing and slowing down time. Badland is set in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront concept art shows Endor, map details teased

    With Star Wars Battlefront set for holiday 2015, it’s high time we were told something about the FPS. Today, a slight bit of information was released on the game, along with a piece of concept art. Finally. While we wait until spring for the first look at the game, we’ll have to be sated with […]

  • You can now catch Emboar and Serperior in Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

    Two new Pokemon are now available for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire through the official Pokemon website’s special event. You can pick up the fire, fighting type Pokemon Emboar from January 28 – November 30, per IGN, using the special code POKEMON500. Enter it into the Mystery Gift section from the main game menu to […]

  • Fight demons, save the world in The Awakened Fate Ultimatum this March

    A new set of videos for The Awakened Fate Ultimatum have been released by NIS America, showing off the roguelike RPG coming to PlayStation 3. In the game, player will guide a high school student named Shin Kamikaze as he comes to term with being a god. After having a dream featuring a girl talking […]

  • You can now pick up Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD Edition on PC, tablets

    Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD Edition is now available on PC as well as Android and iOS tablets. The fifteen year-old title has been revamped in full HD and includes the seven original campaign scenarios and 48 skirmish maps. Local multiplayer mode, a map editor and a Steam lobby are also included.

  • 50 finalists for Bohemia Interactive’s Make Arma Not War contest announced

    The 50 finalists for Bohemia Interactive’s €500,000 Make Arma Not War contest have been announced, after the firm combed through over 250 entries. Finalists chosen in the single-player category were chosen by Arma 3 players, and the add-on and multipkayer entries were selected by Bohemia Interactive. Winners for the next round will be evaluated by […]

  • Here’s a new batch of gruesome Killing Floor 2 screenshots

    Tripwire Interactive has released a new batch of screenshots for Killing Floor 2. The screens show various weapons as well as a variety of Zeds ready to tear you to shreds. Killing Floor 2 is slated for release this year on PC and PlayStation 4. It will also be made available for SteamOS.

  • Hatred is now available for pre-order, new video released

    Hatred is now available for pre-order through the game’s official website. There are two editions to choose from: Digital version with the official game soundtrack for €16.66; or the Digital version with the game soundtrack and a T-shirt for €36.66. The second edition is limited to 1,485 units. Hatred, which was handed an AO rating […]

  • This The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D TV spot is sort of creepy

    With The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D arriving on the first Friday the 13th of the year, it’s only fitting Nintendo would release a slightly creepy TV spot for it. The game’s concept is rather dark, and while it the commercial isn’t too creeptastic, for as short as it is the message is conveyed […]

  • GTA 5 “documentary” chronicles the life of a Tennis Pro

    Here’s another user created video featuring footage from GTA 5, but this one is a documentary instead of crazy stunts, mayhem and face-plants. Created by Bombastic Gamer Films, the documentary delves into the life of Tennis Pro Andreas Schmovakovic, who is both the “greatest player in the world, and the worst.” It’s rather good honestly. […]

  • World of Tanks Xbox 360 updated with console exclusive Pacific Island map, JapaneseChi-Nu Kai tank

    World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition has been updated with a new and exclusive console-only map called “Pacific Island”, which also comes with a Japanese tank. Players will be able to wreck havoc in their very own Japanese Chi-Nu Kai tank, which ca be picked up through the in-game store for Tier 5. It tank […]

  • Here’s the first trailer for OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

    Roll 7 has released the first trailer for OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood. Gameplay in the second outing will include ramps, jumps and hills, allowing for plenty of air and split level routes. It comes with a deeper combo system with Manuals, Reverts, Revert Manuals and Grind Switching. The ‘Tricktionary’ has also been updated with new […]

  • Learn all about the single-player mode in this Evolve video

    A video showing off the single-player portion of Evolve has been released by 2K and Turtle Rock. All content in the game can be played in either online multiplayer or offline in single-player. The video below contains two matches of Defend mode played from both the Monster and Hunter perspective. AI obviously takes on the […]

  • Super Smash Bros. Wii U update comes with 15 extra stages

    An update for Super Smash Bros. Wii U has been released, and it comes with 15 new stages for the 8-player mode. The update, version 1.0.2., is 316MB in size and the stages are split with nine normal stages and six Omega stages. Here’s the list: Regular stages Animal Crossing – Smashville Animal Crossing – […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update includes Metroid Prime Trilogy, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. demo

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with the Metroid Prime Trilogy, Shadow of the Ninja on Virtual Console and a demo for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. Here’s your update: Metroid Prime: Trilogy – Wii U Rock ’N Racing Off Road – Wii U Frenchy Bird – Wii U Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. – […]

  • Battlefield Hardline open beta takes place next week on all systems

    Details and dates for the Battlefield Hardline open multiplayer beta were announced by EA and Visceral Games today. From February 3-8, the beta will be available to all players worldwide on Origin for PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. You’ll notice that the dates coincide with the Microsoft slip up earlier in […]

  • Transistor, Yakuza 4, Thief headline February PS Plus offerings

    Sony has announced your free PlayStation Plus games for the month of February. Come February 3 in North America and February 4 in Europe, Plus members on both side of the pond will be gifted with the following: Transistor (PS4) Apotheon (PS4) Yakuza 4 (PS3) Thief (PS3) Rogue Legacy (PS Vita|PS4|PS3) Kick & Fennick (PS […]

  • Life is Strange launch trailer and final dev diary released

    With the first episode of Life is Strange releasing tomorrow, Dontnod Entertainment has released the last developer diary for the title as well as the launch trailer. Titled Creating Arcadia Bay, the video provides more information on the licensed soundtrack as well as the voice actors behind Max and Chloe. It also touches upon how […]

  • LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers out this year

    LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Marvel’s Avengers have been announced by Warner Bros., the former was outed by Toys R Us and then teased at the end of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, if you recall. LEGO Jurassic World encompasses all four Jurassic Park films and will be made available in June for 3DS, PC, […]

  • Pokemon, Super Smash Bros. top Nintendo’s million units sales list for Q3

    Nintendo has posted a list of titles which have sold millions of units as part of its quarter three earnings release. Global unit sales of 3DS titles for the nine months ending December 31, 2014: Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: 9.35 million (life-to-date, same) Super Smash Bros.: 6.19 million (life-to-date, same) Tomodachi Life: 2.11 […]

  • How to take a screenshot on Xbox One: a lesson in frustration

    Trying to do just one simple thing seems to have 360 steps with Microsoft – why is the Xbox One’s functionality such a car crash? “The Xbox One’s definition of usability is in fact the exact opposite – this is a console designed to make life inconvenient for its players unless they sign up for […]

  • Game of Thrones’ Westeros is being made in Minecraft by 125 people

    WesterosCraft, the project dedicated to creating the entirety of Game of Thrones’ Westros has resurfaced. There are more than a few ambitious Minecraft projects, but hardly any as impressive as WesterosCraft. We first came across it all the way back in January 2013, but it looks much better now. “I would say the world is […]

  • Dying Light exploit gives you unlimited money and items

    Dying Light has been out for just over a day and an infinite money and item exploit is already out there. A simple exploit has been discovered in Dying Light that lets you duplicate weapons, all of which you can sell for profit. Win/ win. YouTuber PowerPyx lays out the steps in the handy video […]

  • Sunset Overdrive concept art is as jovial as the game itself

    Sunset Overdrive is a colourful game which is partly due to its concept art. The concept art featured below is created by Vaughan Ling, one of the concept artsists who worked on Sunset Overdrive. Anyone who’s played the game will immediately recognise the locations, weapons, character designs and general atmosphere of the game through these. […]

  • Get an extended look at the PS4 version of Project CARS

    The PlayStation 4 version of Project CARS has been shown in 1080p 60fps. The video below is captured by racing game enthusiasts Team VVV from a preview build. You can see different racing disciplines being demonstrated here, on different circuits. The game’s impressive visuals get even better when the weather gets worse.

  • Battle Pod is the Star Wars arcade game you’ve waited your whole life for

    Star Wars: Battle Pod is an arcade game that lets you replay the battles of the original trilogy, and features an incredible cockpit. If you’ve never played a game at an arcade before, Star Wars: Battle Pod will definitely be the one to change your mind. It’s an arcade cabinet out of a classic Star […]

  • CoD Exo Zombies: how to unlock the Ride of the Valkyries Easter egg

    To no one’s surprise, Exo Zombies mode in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has some Easter eggs. The first Exo Zombies Easter egg, of surely many more to come, has been discovered. It’s a musical one that involves Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. How you unlock it is not as convoluted as you might […]

  • Dying Light is sub-1080p on Xbox One, full 1080p on PS4 – report

    Early analysis of Dying Light on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has revealed a few technical details about both ports. Digital Foundry has produced some analysis of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports of Dying Light based on some early testing. Both versions manage a solid 30 frames-per-second, only dipping below that in […]

  • Battlefield 4 Second Assault DLC free to all EA Access members

    EA is offering Battlefield 4′s Second Assault expansion free to anyone with an active EA Access subscription. Anyone with an active subscription to EA Access can download the Second Assault expansion pack for Battlefield 4 starting January 29 and through February 28, free of charge. All you need to do is find it on the […]

  • The Witcher 3 is getting optimised, but no visual downgrade

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is in the final stages of development and developer CD Projekt RED is making sure optimisation work doesn’t impact the game’s visuals. The Witcher 3 art producer, Michal Stec, spoke to Eternity in an interview and was asked whether the team will downgrade the visuals to get better performance. “No. […]

  • Can’t download Dying Light on PS4? Here’s a fix

    If you’ve bought Dying Light on PS4 and you’re having trouble downloading it, you’re not alone. Here’s how to beat the bug. Techland’s Dying Light is stumbling out of the blocks a little this week, with many PS4 users experiencing problems with their full-game downloads. A bug’s to blame. Your console thinks you’ve already installed […]

  • What The Witcher 3 owes to Skyrim – and how it surpasses it

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt owes more than a nod to Bethesda’s Skyrim. I went to see The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and had a great time. I went in a fan of the books but not very experienced with the first two games. I came out with The Witcher 3 top of my gaming […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online has great monsters

    Dragon’s Dogma Online looks pretty rad – an undesirable quality in a game unlikely to come west, from our perspective. The first Dragon’s Dogma trailer was released this afternoon; admire its beauty below. The free to play online RPG was announced for PC, PlayStation 3 and PS4 overnight, but Capcom doesn’t intend to bring it […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X map about five times the size of last game’s

    Xenoblade Chronicles X is not a small game. This week’s Famitsu has a feature on Xenoblade Chronicles X giving some details on Monolith Soft’s next RPG and first Wii U game. According to Siliconera‘s translation of reports on the feature, the game’s map is about five times the size of that in Xenoblade Chronicles. The […]

  • Take on Mars expected to hit beta in April

    Take on Mars, the space sim from Bohemia Interactive will soon be reader for wider consumption. According to a new Take on Mars development roadmap, the sim will go into beta at the start of April, with full release expected in June. The project is currently available via Steam early Access, but between now and […]

  • Can you guess the next Mortal Kombat X character reveal from this fatality audio clip?

    Mortal Kombat X will have at least one very liquid-sounding fatality. NetherRealm is revealing Mortal Kombat X’s cats one character at a time, and has promised a new reveal during a community Twitch stream tomorrow. It also provided the following teaser video – it’s audio only, and apparently taken from a fatality sequence. What’s your […]

  • Nintendo Creators Program now recruiting YouTubers – PewDiePie, others weigh-in

    Nintendo has opened a Creators Program designed to ensure creators get a slice of ad revenue from videos featuring Nintendo assets, and some prominent YouTubers aren’t pleased with the company. Update “What Nintendo are missing out on completely is the free exposure and publicity that they get from YouTube,” wrote Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) on his […]

  • Xbox Live issues under investigation

    Can’t sign into Xbox Live? Microsoft is on the case. Xbox 360 and Xbox One users report being unable to sign in to Xbox Live. Microsoft is already aware of and working on the problem. “Our team is hard at work right now trying to get this resolved. Thank you for staying patient while we […]

  • Make money from your non-Valve mods with Steam Workshop

    Valve has opened the money-making side of Steam Workshop to third-party titles, giving enterprising modders more ways to make money. Steam now hosts curated Workshops for Dungeon Defenders: Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, the first non-Valve games to support the scheme. What that means is that community members can create, vote on and eventually even […]

  • Check out DmC: Devil May Cry’s new manual lock-on

    DmC: Devil may Cry developer Ninja Theory has released a video showing off the new, controversial lock-on mode. The new manual lock-on is causing quite a stir, although its reception is probably better than the white-wigged Dante who makes fans even more upset than the original makeover. “The primary purpose of this video is to […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes looks pretty fun

    Dragon Quest Heroes is yet another Omega Force take on an existing property – like Hyrule Warriors or the One Piece games. And it looks pretty sweet. We haven’t heard much from Dragon Quest Heroes here in the west because it hasn’t been confirmed for release outside Japan. This isn’t terribly surprising as we still […]

  • Square Enix to reveal new PS4 game this weekend

    Square Enix is doing something pretty mysterious right now. The Final Fantasy publisher is teasing something called Project Code Z. The project, which Square Enix is tweeting about in Japanese, English and German, is due for reveal at Tokaigi 2015 on Saturday. It’s a PS4 game, but that’s all we know. There’s a website you […]

  • Tetris has crowned its first known western Grand Master

    Tetris fans have a new western champion. Tetris is one of those gaming obsessions that goes much deeper than you might expect. For example, did you know that some versions of the game assess your performance and over you the chance to become a “grand master”? Turns out that’s a thing, and according to Polygon […]

  • Ken Levine’s next game teased as “sci-fi-ish” small, open-world RPG

    A series of tweets from BioShock creator Ken Levine has shed a sliver of light upon his next project. According to Levine he and his team are considering something a bit sci-fi and contemplating first-person mode. The team is developing the game for PC with a large in scope, expandable, systems-based narrative where more can […]

  • Become a lynx in new Shelter 2 trailer

    Shelter 2 casts players in the role of a lynx, which makes for quite a different experience to the badger of the first game. The first Shelter game had you evading predators, but in the second, you becomes one yourself. That doesn’t mean there are no dangers to face, of course. Judging by the trailer […]

  • Why King of Fighters 13 isn’t coming back to Evo

    Evo, the premiere western fighting game tournament, has dropped support for a few previously favoured titles. King of Fighters 13 had a loyal following, but isn’t featured in the Evo 2015 line-up. “Many things go into what games makes it to Evo, but the most obvious one is, ‘Is the community playing this game?’” Evo […]