Yo-Kai Watch, Ni no Kuni, Layton studio allegedly shutters US operations, potentially hampering any future localizations


Time to start importing

Level-5 has been a beloved institution in my household since the year 2000.

Dark Cloud absolutely mesmerized me in a way that many games before it never could. Ever since then the company has been on my radar, and I’ve truly kept up with them. Professor Layton was a marvel back in the unstoppable era of the DS, and even their oddball spinoffs and niche titles thrilled me on occasion.

Once Ni No Kuni came into the spotlight though Level-5 expanded their dominion even further outside of Japan. But recent years haven’t been so kind. Level-5 really pushed hard for Yo-Kai Watch to take off in the west and become the next Pokémon, but it never really happened: and its success in Japan dwindled in recent years. Inheriting Comcept, the troubled developer of Mighty No. 9, also hasn’t done them any favors.

A lot of that is coming back to roost, according to a report from VGC. The report alleges that Level-5’s North American operations, which were already operating as a skeleton crew since August of 2019, are basically dead. That includes both offices, with the US head Yukari Hayakawa potentially departing the company. This all lines up with prior rumors that Level-5 was in some sort of financial trouble.

This cold potentially impact future Inazuma Eleven game localizations, as well as the western version of Yo-Kai Watch 4, all of the planned Yo-Kai Watch spinoffs, the Ni No Kuni mobile game and Megaton Musashi. VGC states that one source concluded that, potentially, there are “currently no concrete plans for any more Level-5 games to be released outside of Japan.” Naturally, they could also find ways to bring their more marquee games west, while keeping other titles Japan-only.

We’ve reached out to Level-5 for more information on the matter, but given their history with not commenting, we don’t expect a reply. Hopefully everyone impacted lands on their feet: they’ve done amazing work bringing so many Level-5 classics to a broader audience. If this is the last we see of Level-5 in the west, it will be sorely missed.

Level-5 has virtually halted operations in North America [VGC]