Mike Salbato
Yatsumi Matsuno Joins Level-5
And announces Tactics Layton. No, not really, but he is talking about his first project, vaguely.
06.30.11 - 11:30 PM

There was a rumor earlier this week that Yatsumi Matsuno - mastermind behind such Square Enix games as Final Fantasy XII, Tactics Ogre, and of course Vagrant Story - had started work at Level-5, known largely for the Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven series. The news was confirmed by Japan's Famitsu magazine, and Matsuno himself made it extra official via Twitter.

While he hasn't worked at Square Enix since 2007, why Level-5? It seems to be a mutually beneficial partnership, listening to both Matsuno himself and Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino discuss the move. Matsuno seems to have a great amount of respect for Level-5, and looks to learn from the company, and Hino himself. Level-5's CEO likes the idea of working with someone who he feels is a "creator," and even refers to Matsuno as a "creator amongst creators."

For Hino and Level-5, this is a chance to allow the company to do things they've never been able to. Matsuno is excited that he'll have the chance to make games that his nieces and nephews will want to play - something he has yet to experience, as they tend to be more interested in, say, Level-5's Inazuma Eleven. In addition, Hino wants to give Matsuno the freedom to create something new, not just another game in a style he's known for. While we don't yet know what his first project will be, we know it won't be an epic title with a long development cycle. Hino challenged the team to create a "compact" game, with the belief that something new can grow from doing things a little differently.

Matsuno stated that the feeling he has working on this new title is similar to the one he had when creating the Super Famicom's Ogre Battle - a time in which he was allowed to make whatever he wanted. The new title is not related to his past games, but is an idea he's had in his head for around 10 years.

Like several other Japanese game makers, Matsuno believes the industry desperately needs new titles and ideas, as this is what will 'save' the games industry. It's an ideal many people talk about, so it'll be interesting to see what he comes up with at Level-5.

Thanks to reader Pouyan Assar for originally bringing this news to our attention over on our Facebook page.