Nintendo have announced the acquisition of Next Level Games, a studio with a long-running relationship with the Jananese manufacturer who most recently worked on the 2019 game Luigi’s Mansion 3.
The acquisition is expected to be completed on 1st March 2021, buying out the various owner-directors of the company, who had “recently determined that the time is right for them to sell their shares” and begun exploring their options for selling the company.
Their importance to Nintendo is quite clear, and thus the decision to buy up the studio a logical one for the company. They were trusted with creating Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, which sold over 5 million units through the rest of the handheld’s life, but Luigi’s Mansion 3 proved to be a big hit at the end of 2019, and has sold over 7 million units. Sure, it’s not managed to secure a spot in the top 10 best-selling games on the Switch, but it outperformed Super Mario Maker 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening in that time.
In our Luigi’s Mansion 3 review, Reuben wrote:
“With a lot of gameplay enhancements from previous iterations, a gorgeously rendered game world, and a whole host more besides, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is easily the apex of the franchise. The sheer amount to see and do, along with the amount of adorable details, make this game a wonderful experience and one I would recommend. Sucking at games has (rarely) felt this good.”
Next Level Games was founded in 2002 and worked on a wide variety of games and genres for a number of different publishers. NHL Hitz Pro and Spider-Man Friend or Foe in the mid-2000s, and 2011 movie tie-in Captain America: Super Soldier were all cross-platform games, but the developer is best known for their work on Nintendo’s platforms.
Cult classic football games Super Mario Strikers on GameCube and Mario Strikers Charged on Wii were the first games they developed for Nintendo, before working on Punch-Out!!. It was Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon that seems to have really tied Next Level Games’ fate to Nintendo, with co-founder Jason Carr saying in 2014, “We are doing only Nintendo products now.”
They might have floundered a bit with Metroid Prime: Federation Force in 2016, but that’s likely in part down to where Nintendo were at the time, biding time ahead of the Switch’s release a year later. Thankfully they struck gold with Luigi’s Mansion 3, and with this acquisition, you’d expect that a further sequel or Nintendo franchise game is most likely in the works.