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Next Level Games

It’s well known at this point that Next Level Games has been hard at work on some sort of new game since releasing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. It’s also known that this will be a title published by Nintendo. So what could the team be working on? That’s completely unknown at this point, but minor findings from the LinkedIn profiles of a couple of staff members may give some clues.

Emily Rogers noticed that programmer Gary Shaw lists “Online [programming]” for secret projects at Next Level Games. He previously programmed the online functionality for games including Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Mario Strikers Charged.

Rogers also poked around the profile of presentation/level designer Diego R. Pons, who has been at the studio for eight and a half years. Whereas “Collectibles” are listed for Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Spider-Man, it’s not listed for Next Level Games’ unannounced project. Pons also lists “Story” for the new game, and it seems that his responsibilities focus more on mission-based games/more open environments.

Admittedly, this doesn’t tell us too much. But given that Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon shipped in March 2013, there’s a good chance that Next Level Games’ new project will be shown at E3 2015 next month. That would definitely be an interesting reveal!

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Update: Bumped to the top. Pratezina has now removed all mentions of Wii U from his website. Hmm…


Dan Pratezina, an animator at Next Level Games, has suggested that the studio is working on a new game for Wii U.

Pratezina wrote the following on his website back in January:

After over ten years in film and television, I’m working in a gaming pipeline for the first time at Next Level Games, helping previs & animate in-engine cutscenes. Switching pipelines like this is a terrific brain-scramble, the crew is fantastic, and it’s a ton of fun being surrounded by Nintendo IP all day. It’s making me want a WiiU. Is that weird? Yes, it is. But here we are.

Next Level Games, known for its work on games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, was hoping to create the title “Clockwerk” back in 2011. This would have been a puzzle-platformer game for multiple unspecified home console platforms (potentially including Wii), though it never saw the day of light.

Unseen 64 shares the following overview of Clockwerk:

It was conceived as the story of two old men, Otto & Herman, who work as Hausmeisters (caretakers) in a magical floating clock tower suspended in the clouds called ‘The World Clock’, that governs the flow of time throughout the universe. On their final day before retirement, a faction of evil gremlins attack the tower, dismantling its innards and disrupting the behaviour of time. In order for the grumpy twosome to finally retire, they must defeat the invaders and repair its inner workings.

As Clockwerk was starting out, no publishers were attached to the game. Prototypes were never created. However, plenty of conceptual documents were made so that Next Level could pitch its idea to various publishers (including Nintendo and SEGA apparently).

Next Level Games was said to have partnered with a “major company” in July 2011. Things ultimately fell through when it was discovered that another team within the publisher had been working on a separate game with similar gameplay mechanics. This resulted in the publisher ending its plans to produce Clockwerk, and the title ended up seeing complete cancellation.

You can find more information about Clockwerk in Unseen 64’s report. View some concept art below.

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Next Level Games has dabbled with the combination of Mario and sports in the past. Super Mario Strikers launched for GameCube, while Mario Strikers Charged came out for Wii. Next Level Games also created an idea for a third project at one point: “Super Mario Spikers”.

Super Mario Spikers would have been a new game for Wii featuring a mixture of volleyball/wrestling gameplay. Development never actually began, and the idea was canned soon after the initial phases of conceptualization.

Unseen64 has plenty of additional information here.

Unseen64 has collected a bunch of concept art from Mario Strikers Charged as well as information about scrapped concepts.

Here’s a summary of some of the more interesting points:

– “Ball launchers” were considered at one point as an aesthetic addition to levels
– These were machines that would have propelled multiple balls up towards characters during mega strikes
– The iconic metal football featured in the game went through 12 reiterations and became simpler over time
– Characters in armor was decided on partway through early beta development following experimentation by concept artists
– Before this, character models were drawn much in the style of Super Mario Strikers (fairly standard football kits)
– At one point, the artists toyed around with the level of armour each character would have equipped and other details
– It is possible that that the game had some alterations made to its initial stage selection
– Concept art includes an unnamed stadium set inside a futuristic city; scrapped for unknown reasons
– Next Level Games discarded the concept of playing field set on top of an enormous aircraft
– Some minor adjustments were made to the final stadiums over their first visualizations

You can find a bunch of concept art from Mario Strikers Charged above, and lots more information here.

Following up on today’s news regarding Mario Strikers Charged, new concept art has appeared from the game’s predecessor. Mario and Peach are both in the image. With Super Mario Strikers, Next Level Games was originally going to take inspiration from street football.

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New concept has appeared online showing scrapped concepts of Toads in mechs from Mario Strikers Charged.

Supposedly, Next Level Games planned on having them act as security, referees, and substitutes for ball boys around the perimeter of each pitch during gameplay. The idea was dropped due to perceived tech limitations with the Wii hardware.

Another interesting tidbit: Mario Strikers Charged was originally going to be called Super Mario Strikers 2. You can find the original logo – as well as concept art of the scrapped Toad mechs – in the gallery below.

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Earlier today, concept art from a supposed Next Level Games-made Metroid prototype surfaced. We weren’t too sure if the images were real, but Destructoid has since verified their authenticity.

Destructoid also spoke “to a trusted source related to the project”. The site was told the following:

“Yes that is real. That’s the first I’d actually seen of that concept art, but a prototype was made before being shelved in favor of Luigi’s Mansion 2. It was about as bare-bones as it gets, but it was still pretty fun.”

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Before Next Level Games started work on Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, the studio was working on “a completely different project for Nintendo”. This is known thanks to an Iwata Asks interview published last year. Perhaps the project in question was a new Metroid game.

Concept art was recently uncovered from the profile of a former Next Level Games employee, which includes shots of an apparent Metroid prototype. Since the staffer left Next Level in late 2009, it’s possible that this was the prototype the studio was working on prior to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Sadly, we may never know the full story!

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