Always Nintendo Interviews Next Level Games, Working on New Wii U and 3DS Titles

`Next Level Games Interview

Always Nintendo recently got the chance to speak with Ken Yeeloy of Next Level Games, the team behind amazing titles such as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and the recent Punch-­Out!! Nintendo Wii titles. In this interview, Next Level confirms that they have Wii U and 3DS dev kits, but can’t tell us much more than that. Without further ado, let the interview begin!

AN: Hey Ken, thanks for taking the time out to speak with Always Nintendo! Would you be able to tell us a bit about Next Level Games and what you guys do?

Mario Strikers Charged Next Level Games

Next Level (NL): Hi Jelani! (interviewer) It’s my pleasure to chat with you today. We are a studio of about 70 staff located in downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada. We were founded in 2002 by former Black Box Games staff and have made console games for various publishers since then. We now make games exclusively for Nintendo.

AN: You’ve been trusted with franchises like Punch-Out!! and Luigi’s Mansion. What other Nintendo IPs would you like to work with and why?

NL: I would love to work on a Zelda or Mario title. Those are the pinnacles of Nintendo IP and I think it would be a lot of fun to go through the process of building one of those games. Trying to come up with new mechanics and puzzles that fit those franchises would be a huge challenge and would be extremely rewarding to see in the end product.

AN: What is your team’s development process like?

NL: Nintendo has taught us to focus on finding the core gameplay so that’s what we try to do. We discuss and agree with what it is we want to accomplish with the gameplay and then there is a lot of iteration on our part. Within the iteration is a fair amount of experimentation which is one of the more fun parts of the development process because you can sometimes get a completely new and cool idea spawning out of the original idea that you were working on.

Next Level Games Interview

AN: What’s the story behind the Robot in Next Level Games’ logo?

NL: It started with the idea of an ‘egg’ representing our new company with regards to us not knowing where the company would go at the time similar to not knowing what could come out of an egg. Our concept artist was then tasked to do something cool and creative with that idea and so the “Eggman” was born.

AN: We’ve heard a lot of great things about Nintendo’s relations with second parties. How has it affected the way your studio handles projects? Has the change been for the better, or for the worse?

NL: It has definitely been for the better. They have always offered us great IPs to work with so it takes the pressure off us to try to come up with something to pitch to them. Given the IPs they’ve given us already, it is always exciting to see what new proposals they have for us. They certainly make us feel like we are an integral part of their long-term plans.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Next Level Games is even behind projects such as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

AN: What makes Next Level Games different from other studios out there? What goals does the team try to attain when creating games?

NL: I think it’s our focus on our staff and that we probably consider the ‘human’ element a little more in decisions than the average studio. We not only hold our staff accountable for their technical skill but we hold them accountable for the relationship they have with their peers and ensure that they work through any conflict in a constructive way. This lines up quite nicely with our goal of making a fun and unique experience in all the games we make.

AN: What projects do you guys have in store at the moment? Are you treating both the Wii U
and 3DS with love at the moment?

NL: Unfortunately I can’t say anything about any current projects but we do have both dev kits in the studio.

Luigi Strikers Charged Next Level Games

AN: What was your favorite video game growing up? If given the chance, would you like to create a sequel/remake of it on current systems?

NL: I played a lot of games when I was a kid but no real method to the madness. I had an Atari 2600, Sega Genesis (only a few games) and a Commodore 64. The only Nintendo games I played as a kid really were some of the Game & Watch games. My favorite games were the arcade classics 1942, 1943 and Galaga. There are a number of clones and remakes out there already and I have 1942 Joint Strike on the Xbox 360 but it just isn’t the same. I want the exact game on the new consoles with the same code from way back then. I wouldn’t even ask to improve the graphics if it meant keeping the old AI patterns intact!

AN: Little Mac is making his debut as a Playable Character in Super Smash Bros. 4! What was your reaction to the news that Mac would be included?

NL: I was extremely surprised and excited when the reveal happened! It looks like they put a lot of effort into his character moveset and I think he will fit quite nicely into Super Smash Bros. 4.

AN: Do you have any plans to return to the Punch-­Out!! series in the future?

NL: Well that would ultimately be Nintendo’s decision but I think there are things we could still do to make it fresh while keeping some of the nostalgia.

Thanks again for answering our questions guys! I look forward to seeing your future endeavours!

My pleasure! Thanks for the interview!

That was an interesting interview indeed! What do you think the new Next Level projects could be? Could we be seeing another Luigi’s Mansion on the Wii U? Perhaps the first ever Mario Strikers on a portable system? I’d love to know! You can let me know by leaving a comment below.

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