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LK4O4 avatar 6:51 PM on 01.07.2011  (server time)
Level-5 and Region-Locked Time Travel

Posted by: Ryan

I might be working near Level-5. Well okay, I'm under no illusion that they're developing games there, but it is a small brick building with the Level-5 logo in the corner. And I wonder if that building contains the eight people who probably make up Level-5's entire North American branch.

Level-5 seems to be known mostly in the US for their work on the Professor Layton series of games, but they were also the developers of Square Enix's Dragon Quest XIII and Dragon Quest IX. But to be honest, I've never played a Level-5 game outside of borrowing my girlfriend's copy of DQIX for a short while. And even then, I think of the Dragon Quest games more as the work of old-school Enix than Level-5.

So I'm not nearly as excited for the next game in the Professor Layton series—or even the Phoenix Wright cross-over game announced at their "Vision 2010" event—as I am for another game that they've recently announced. A 3DS game that I'm not sure will see release in the US.

It's called Time Travelers, and it looks beautiful. It's being directed by Jiro Ishii, who also directed the Japan-only game 428, the ninth game to ever receive a 40/40 in Famitsu magazine. According to the info I've been able to find, the girl in the trailer can see the future, and the creepy guy is some kind of "future" terrorist, who presumably causes the destruction of the city. It's being described as a "mystery suspense" game, and is being produced by Akihiro Hino, the President and CEO of Level-5 (who has actually played 428). Hino has some high hopes, referring to the game as something that could potentially sell 500,000 or a million copies.

In an earlier Famitsu interview, Ishii explained that his game has "the theme of the calamity that has become a trauma within me." Ishii is from Nishinomiya, a city affected by the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995 which killed over 1000 people, and echoes the destroyed city at the end of the trailer. To be honest, I can't remember any game creator hinting at putting that kind of personal touch into their game, except for maybe Shigesato Itoi (EarthBound).

And though Hino seems confident in Time Travelers and is taking the producer role, I'm still worried that I might not get to play it. None of Ishii's games have ever made it to the United States. And I don't know if anyone who has any say in the company works in that building, but I've been seriously considering leaving a note on their door for about a week now. A note politely asking them to please publish Time Travelers in the United States, and with a promise that I'll definitely buy it when they do.

Edit: I left a hand-written note under their door. I have no idea who that letter may have reached, or even if they just threw it away, but at least I tried.

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