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Developer Profile: Level-5

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Image © Level-5
Definition: Level-5 is an independent video game developer and publisher located in Japan’s Fukuoka city. Founded in 1998 by former Riverhillsoft employee Akihiro Hino, the company has since gained a reputation for consistently producing high-quality games. Though Level-5’s game portfolio includes titles made for Sony’s platforms as well as iOS and Android, the company became a household name in North America through the development and publication of the Professor Layton titles for the Nintendo DS and 3DS.

One of Level-5’s earliest and most ambitious titles is 2000’s Dark Cloud, an action role-playing game developed for the PlayStation 2. It was followed up by Dark Chronicle (called Dark Cloud 2 in North America) in 2002. Another notable project by Level-5 is Rogue Galaxy, a role-playing game that hit the PlayStation 2 in 2007.

But the game that really help establish Level-5 as a quality developer of role-playing titles is Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. The Dragon Quest games are phenomenally popular in Japan, and Cursed King is still regarded as one of the best in the series thanks to its compelling cast, sprawling size, and sense of humor.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King received a warm reception in North America as well, but it wasn’t until the release of 2007’s Professor Layton and the Curious Village that Level-5 became widely-known with English-speaking audiences. Players were immediately drawn in by the polite Professor, his young apprentice Luke, and the strange, mystery-filled world they inhabited. The game’s animated cut scenes, which are still drawn in a style that pays tribute to Herge’s “Tintin” comics, adds a blanket of indelible personality to the games’ puzzles and characters.

To date, Level-5 continues to develop games for the Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, iOS and Android.

Notable Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS games by Level-5 include:

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
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