PlayStation news: Developer spotlight: Level-5

How many PlayStation classics from the White Knight Chronicles II developer have you played?

Dragon Quest games are among the most popular in Japan, with every new release almost guaranteed to sell more than a million copies there. When the series’ esteemed creator, Yuji Horii, partnered with Japanese development studio Level-5 to bring Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King to PlayStation 2, the pressure could have told. But the results, Horii said in 2006, “blew me away”.

Rich visuals and absorbing stories in faraway worlds are the trademarks of Level-5, as White Knight Chronicles II on PlayStation 3 showcases in stunning fashion. This sprawling epic is far from a flash in the pan, as a look through the company’s glittering back catalogue proves.

Dark Cloud (PS2, 2001)Vibrancy, ambition and groundbreaking ideas. Sound familiar? Dark Cloud was the first effort from Level-5 for PS2, and though it flew under the radar for many people, those who did pick it up discovered a surreal world of role-playing fantasy fused with a do-it-yourself upgrade system.

Lots of the elements seen in the White Knight Chronicles saga were first built here, and a flair for throwing unexpected ingredients into the pot and ending up with a delicious, multi-flavoured treat meant you could happily try your hand at just about anything.

Building towns with the Georama system, designing your own equipment and tackling huge, imaginative enemies in an unforgettable world were just some of the inspired options open to you.

Dark Chronicle (PS2, 2003)Set 100 years after the events of Dark Cloud, we joined budding inventor Max and fiery princess Monica in their fight to stop the evil Emperor Griffin destroying their world. Yet in a typical Level-5 flourish, Griffin operated from his own time zone in Dark Chronicle – 100 years into the future.

Hopping between the thriving towns of the present and the barren plains of a dark tomorrow added dizzying chaos to the Dark Chronicle formula. Meanwhile, Max’s robot, Steve, could be transformed from a clanking rust bucket into a deadly tank in a sequel that managed to feel even more original than its predecessor.    

Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2, 2006)Moving on from the steam-powered societies of Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, Level-5 turned its kaleidoscopic eye to the Dragon Quest series.

One of the most bewitching lands ever created on PS2 was the result, a fairytale world of cursed princesses, towns brimming with drama and caves inhabited by confused dragons.

Mini-games and side quests sucked you deeper into a world with no loading times – so if you saw a mysterious landmark in the distance, there was nothing to stop you setting off for it in earnest. What a journey it proved to be.

Rogue Galaxy (PS2, 2007)Playing as daydreaming space pirate Jaster Rogue in this helter-skelter tale, a voyage of interstellar discovery awaited you in Rogue Galaxy. Level-5 went full steampunk ahead, creating a world of desert mysticism, starry wonder and piston-driven adventure.

Embarking on the cosmic galleon Dorgenark, Jaster set off to explore six gargantuan worlds, each with unique civilisations, quests and threats. His ability to cope in new surroundings depended on the equipment you created from the spoils of completed missions.

Plenty of sea dog humour – including a grog-fuelled super attack – along with an epic soundtrack, witty dialogue and buccaneering battles meant Level-5 signed off the PS2 era in swashbuckling style.       

White Knight Chronicles (PS3, 2010)With the launch of PS3 in 2007, Level-5 set about creating a game that was larger than life – many metres larger, in fact. White Knight Chronicles transforms Leonard, a determined young merchant, into a towering warrior able to peer over castle ramparts.

As the great White Knight, the quest to rescue the kidnapped Princess Cisna becomes less daunting, and the expansive Kingdom of Balandor becomes a splendid mix of exotic pastures and dank caverns, all yours to explore at will.

Massive enemies test your hulking alter ego’s skills, while the Georama system returns in an ambitious online mode that lets you team up with friends via PlayStation Network. A spectacular PS3 debut for Level-5, you can play it now, in full, on the same Blu-ray Disc as White Knight Chronicles II.

Walk the path from hidden treasure to shining masterpiece yourself, by picking up these classics in-store now. Then immerse yourself in the latest Level-5 epic – White Knight Chronicles II, only on PS3.

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