Ni No Kuni: Akihiro Hino answers your questions

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Ni No Kuni

Back in December we asked the SCEE community to submit any questions they had for Akihiro Hino, President and CEO of LEVEL-5, the developer behind Ni No Kuni. The Community Team picked their 10 favourite questions and today we have the answers for you.

Don’t forget that those who are feeling inspired by Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch can still enter our familiar design competition and win themselves a one of a kind custom Kigu in the style of their creation.

Right, over to Hino-san…


Whose idea was it originally for you to collaborate with Studio Ghibli, and who took the most convincing to get the game made? (Marchie-G)
Akihiro Hino: This was my idea. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli’s works and I wanted to work with them. The person who needed the most convincing… perhaps the producer, Mr. Suzuki!

Who was the driving force behind how the story was told – Level 5 or Studio Ghibli? (MKR_Bone)
Akihiro Hino: The framework of the story was complete, but there were countless discussions with Studio Ghibli with regard to many things, including for example, the final scenes of the game.

What, if anything, can you or have you learned from the rise of Western RPG’s such as Fallout, Skyrim and Mass Effect? And what do you offer that they can’t? (LevelUpJordan)
Akihiro Hino: One of the defining features of a Western RPG is the level of freedom it gives the players. Often times, Japanese RPGs tend to be story-driven where the player follows it along a linear path, so the amount of freedom you get in Western titles is actually a little mind-blowing at times. With Ni no Kuni, we tried to put a lot of thought into the level of freedom we allow players.

Which part of making the game was the most enjoyable? (ItsActuallyAdam)
Akihiro Hino: Making the game while referencing Ghibli’s graphics and settings was the most enjoyable part of the process. On a personal level, it was amazing to have my own scenario come to life in Studio Ghibli’s animation!

It took over a year to translate the game, what are the biggest hurdles to overcome during the translation process? Did the experience give you any ideas on how to speed it up for future projects? (Alestes)
Akihiro Hino: There was a lot of care and diligence put into the localisation the game, not to mention the sheer volume of text we had to translate. Ni no Kuni used dialects and plays on words in the Japanese version, so we ensured that these nuances were carried over to the different languages.

Finding the perfect release window also seemed to be a factor in the slight delay in getting the game to our fans, but, I think this is probably an unusual case in terms of the length of time for localisation.

If you could choose any film studio to make a game for, who would it be? (Sarah-hiMe)
Akihiro Hino: There isn’t really a specific film, but I would love to tackle a Spielberg film. Pixar’s films also interest me since they seem very compatible with games.

What came first – developing this game, the main character or the general plot? (cheekyMcB)
Akihiro Hino: The ideas came at the same time. We wanted children to enjoy the game, but we also wanted the message to reach the child within every adult and that’s how the character and the setting came about. Often times, people tend to dislike games that may look childish overseas, but I’m glad to hear that it’s been received well thus far.

Why do you think other companies are veering away from this style of RPG and instead focusing more on a western-style action-packed approach? (MoltenArmour)
Akihiro Hino: Perhaps gamers don’t enjoy putting in long hours of gameplay anymore. In Japan, it doesn’t seem like too many people are veering away from RPGs, but if they are, it might be because there are so many different game styles, with social aspects becoming such a huge factor. The desire to spend less time on any one game seems to result in people desiring more action oriented games rather than RPGs.

Are there any dream collaborators that you’d love to work with? (SurrealNightmare)
Akihiro Hino: There are many, but I cannot comment on any of them at this point. I hope you’ll look forward to our announcements in the future.

What’s next for Level 5 – have you guys got another project in store for PS3? (iisc2k7)
Akihiro Hino: I cannot discuss specifics at this time, but I hope to continue creating exciting RPGs for our fans.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is available now in-store and as digital download via the PlayStation Network.

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  • Loving every minute of Ni No Kuni, lets get Oliver in Playstation All Stars :)

  • I’m looking forward to playing this once I’ve had a chance to work through some of my backlog of games.

  • Ni No Kuni looks like success in my eyes, which should mean a Sequel

    Note: I base this on the fact that Ni No Kuni was sold out in UK on Day 1 and when shop restock them was they rip away on day 1 of restock

  • @Artemisthemp
    Well a real sequel would require that Studio Ghibli joins forces once more. And I’d guess that this was more of an once in a decade experience for them.

    But whatever grants us more JRPGs of this class, is welcome.

  • Best JRPG of this generation. The art is what mostly influenced me to get the game, so the Ghibli collaboration was a must for this. I don’t like the cel shaded anime graphics that you traditionaly see in these type of games but in this case it’s just absolutely beautiful (wouldn’t expect any less of Ghibli.)
    The game was the nr1 seller out here too at the time of its release, honestly didn’t expect it to do that well in the West, or even be well-known.
    Thank you Level5 for this wonderfull game. I’m in love with Ding Dong Dell :p

  • Whey he answered my question!
    Imagine a Monsters inc RPG. That would be so cool!! Either way I’ll still be a keen Level 5 follower.

  • After 60 hours I finished the main story on Monday morning. It is without a doubt one of the best games ever made and that’s not something I have said this generation. I hope to see the ‘Amazon Exclusive’ familiars added to the store soon but I fear I may have to pay the odds to get them.

    Olive in Allstars I second that. You can imagine Evanstar annihilating everyone. :D It would be great if the spirits were mascots too. Kudos to comment number 1. My mind is thinking of the awesomeness. I can just imagine Cloud Vs Ollie in a stage which combines Midgar with Hamelin. . .

  • He answered mine too! Well, he didn’t give much away, but cool nonetheless

  • 1 of the best rpg on ps3

    1= skyrim ( whitout bugs )
    2= ni no kuni
    3= dark souls
    4= dragon´s dogma

    level 5 to me = lots better then squere enix ( them lost feeling about rpg )

    Tank u to give us great games for reasonable price :)

  • Easily my top RPG on the PS3 without a doubt. Second favorite has to be Tales of Graces F.

    Still wondering why the EU Wizards Edition was terrible compared to Americas though D:

  • Ni No Kuni is now my favourite PS3 game followed by Skyrim. I love RPGs and play for hours on them. Thank you for making such a wonderful game.

  • Whatever… I want more Wizard Edition copies on the market. There is demand. And it lacks supply. BADLY!

  • Only put about 6 hours in so far but loving every second…makes a nice change of pace to shooting things all the time…great work guys!!!

  • Hello, I live in GMT minus 8 so it’s 4:35 am here. I’m still up because I has another marathon session with Ni No Kuni. I love it. Up til now I’ve only played western RPGs because I couldn’t figure out how to play JRPGs with their unique, constant tactical decisions. Ni No Kuni eased me into this and now I enjoy the battles.

    Thank you, Level 5, for this wonderful, beautiful, fun and heartwarming game. Of course I want a sequel on the PS4.

  • I forgot to comment on the localization. I know a lot of people complained about the long delay for us Westerners, but I know a little Japanese so I’m using the Japanese audio option–and thank you for that–and I understand how much care you took to bring the same flavor in English that the native language has. Definitely not a literal translation. Although I can’t figure out why you changed Mark to Phillip. :-).

    By the way, the Japanese voice actors are fantastic, especially Mr. Drippy and the Witch and Oliver. And Swaine. Ni No Kuni is that rare gem, something you look forward to so much that you worry it can’t live up to your hopes, but in fact it exceeds them. Thank you.

  • someone send square-enix a copy of this game, they need some lessons in how to make a good rpg… sucks that they lost their way.

  • @17 agreed. they need to remember they are supposed to be making games for their fans. still desperate for versus 13 :(

  • Thank you for bringing this extraordinary title to the PS3, Hino-san. Ni no Kuni is an absolutely phenomenal game and I’m so thrilled that it’s getting the sales it deserves.

    If you haven’t picked this one up then please check out my glowing review. It says more than a rushed comment ever could.

    Oh, and I know it’s a bit cheeky to ask, but if anyone from the PlayStation Blog stumbles across this comment and you just so happen to be in the market for new writers, you know where to find me!

    There’s tidy, mun!

  • Dang. i want to ask why were so few CEs made available and are you making any more. DELETED my CE order by mistake and thanks to their amazing service, I completely missed out, my preorder they mistakingly deleted got shunted to the first customer waiting in line and I got lefy in the dark. They go and stuff up what I preordered months ago and then dont rectify their mistake. i really want that tome :(. To make matters worse you hear about a greedy dealer in Canada allowed to pre order TWO HUNDRED copies of the CE just so they can charge triple price for people like me left in the lurch whom have that kind of money and whom willpay that ridiculous kind of amount. I can’t afford that, and it seems the fans and gamers have been left way behind when they should be able to get one copy if they order in a reasonable amount of time before release. Not fair

  • i have this game and in my openion its the best game since final fantasy 7. ive played final fantasy 13 dont get me wrong its a good game but lacks towns villages mainly due to more storyline. and this takes me back to the days of early final fantasy and chrono trigger and it feels great to be back at a decade i loved playing rpg games like this. all i hope now is they make a sequel to this and other rpg games as good as ni no kuni. the game developers have all my respect with this its 1 of the best rpg games ive had in years i have tales of grace as well but nothing apart from final fantasy 7 as come close to this ive been waiting 4 a game like this in ages nice work guys.

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