And so we come to the final third of Weekly Famitsu’s interview with Akihiro Hino, president of Level 5. In part one, we heard about the history and evolution of Level 5. In part two, Hino celebrated their collaboration with world-famous animation house Studio Ghibli. He also elaborated on how ‘Magic Master’, a book included with the game, will factor into Ninokuni’s gameplay. In this final part, Hino further expands on interesting potential uses of the book and, tantalizingly, other real-world gadgets.
Level 5 president, Akihiro Hino: At this conference, we announced the Nintendo DS version of Ninokuni, but actually, there will be a console version available as well.
Weekly Famitsu editor-in-chief, Katsuaki Kato: Really?! Has the platform been decided?
Hino: No. Right now, we’re focused on the development of the DS version. First, we want to finalize the game mechanics. The Nintendo DS is well suited to development through trial and error; it’s easy to work with. We want to establish the link between the book and the game well, and then when it comes time to switch to the console version, we can make an even more polished product. We also want to add some story and remix the game a bit so that even people who played the DS version will enjoy it, but we’re still deciding on exactly what would be optimal.
Kato: You mentioned trial and error just now. Will you be trying to include the book with the console version?
Tracing these symbols from the book will help unravel the mysteries of Ninokuni
Hino: Of course. The contents of the book will be slightly different in accordance with the changes we make for the console version, but it will basically be the same thing. We’re also working on incorporating different mechanics into the book itself. For example, you might need to use a special magnifying glass to reveal an image or something. So we’re examining designs along those lines as well…
Kato: It will also come with a magnifying glass?
Hino: Well, we’re still discussing that, but we’d like to try. The lens uses a fiberous, silk-like material, and it can reveal images. Glancing at the page, you can’t tell there’s an image there. You wouldn’t so much as think there might be something hidden there. But when you find the right spot with the magnifying glass, the picture becomes visible. It’s an incredible technology.
Kato: You can do that?!?
Hino: Yes. I was surprised too when I saw it in testing.
Kato: Wow, that’s some real magic.
Hino: We were thinking you might be told in the game something like “There’s a secret hidden on page 23,” and if you used the magnifying glass to look at page 23, an image would surface. It’s kinda like you consult the book using information you’re told in the game, and in turn, you advance in the game by using information you get from the book.
Kato: And aside from that, I imagine there are lots of other ways you could use it. But if all that’s included, I’d be a bit worried about the price… [ed: Japanese game prices are much more varied, and generally more expensive, than in North America]
Hino: From the start, we’ve been devising ways to keep costs down as much as possible in order to keep the price from spiraling out of control. But if we sell out, our ability to quickly manufacture additional units will be limited.
Kato: Of course. It must be difficult to manufacture the book and the packaging quickly. But it seems like this is becoming an exciting project that actually could sell out, so we’ll be eagerly following Ninokuni’s development.