Next Level Games, the Vancouver-based studio behind Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and two Mario Strikers titles, will now exclusively develop games for Nintendo, co-founder Jason Carr told Gamasutra.
"We are doing only Nintendo products now," Carr said, noting that the success of Dark Moon helped strengthen the studio's relationship with Nintendo.
Next Level Games' first title was NHL Hitz Pro for the GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2003. From there the studio worked on GameCube titles Super Mario Strikers and then Wii's Mario Strikers Charged before venturing back to multiplatform titles with Spider-Man: Friend or Foe for Xbox 360, PS2 and Wii in 2007. The company ported an arcade version of board game Ticket to Ride to XBLA the following year before returning only to Nintendo platform titles. Its last non-Nintendo title was Captain America: Super Solider for PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011, made in conjunction with Sega.
Producer Ken Yeeloy said Nintendo initially reached out to Next Level Games for the Mario Strikers games because they wanted an arcade-like soccer title. Many developers at Next Level came from Black Box, which made Sega Soccer Slam before being acquired by EA. Yeeloy said Nintendo tracked down the original developers of that title to work on Strikers, noting that for Nintendo it seems to be not about the studio name, but the people.
"They knew, 'I need the guys who made the game, I don't just need the company,'" Yeeloy said. "At that time in the industry there were lots of gaming companies getting built up, bought out, built up, bought out. People changing all the time, I think."
"It is different, though," Carr added "Like you say, it's very much about the people for them. We've noticed with their producer-type guys, these are all guys who have usually worked on content, art, whatever, and they've moved into roles where it feels like the creative guys are the decision-makers."
Carr said that while Next Level Games has worked with other companies before, it's not likely to stray from Nintendo in the future — the studio is "super happy" with its current setup and relationship with the company, and he said there is "no reason to look anywhere else."