Since arriving in 2007, Professor Layton's had quite a successful history. From humble beginnings in a Curious Village to Ace Attorney crossovers, it's been a few years since a new entry in this puzzle-adventure series has appeared, but that hasn't stopped Level-5 CEO and Professor Layton producer Akihiro Hino reminiscing about it.
Speaking recently with Yahoo Japan (translation credit to Nintendo Everything), Hino talked about Level-5's early beginnings. When asked about comparisons to book series Atama no Taisou, he shed some light on his initial inspirations for Professor Layton.
I always enjoyed the ‘Atama no Taisou’ and because those sorts of brain training exercises were popular at the time, I decided to make something that would incorporate similar puzzles. The series would be a trilogy called Layton that followed a story with characters like Sherlock Holmes and his buddy Watson. Those things were in my mind from early on.
As part of this interview, he also detailed Level-5's initial efforts in self-publishing, singling out Layton specifically. Advising "there was a lot of risk involved" whilst trying to keep staff morale high, Hino clarified how crucial advertising was to the first game's success:
It was standard to spend about 300 million yen on advertising at the time, but initially our budget for Layton was around 150 million yen. It was almost nothing by comparison. The game took off despite that thanks to our longer-term advertising investments. It cost us around 700 million yen in the end, but the thing I took away from it all was that the game would not sell unless it was known to the public. It was naïve of me to think that everyone would buy it solely because we made an interesting game.
Looking back now, it's clear they made the right call. Selling over 18 million copies worldwide, Professor Layton is easily Level-5's most successful franchise, undoubtedly helped by Nintendo's Western publishing efforts. Despite recent setbacks with Level-5's North American branch, we remain hopeful that we've not seen the last of the Layton family.