Next Level Games is a Canadian video game developer based in Vancouver. They are best known for their collaborative efforts with Capcom.
Next Level Games was founded in October 2002, and quickly found work with Midway Games making the third game in the NHL Hitz series of hockey games. Meanwhile, Capcom, wishing to expand their portfolio of genres after seeing the success of Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer series, sought out Next Level Games for their experience making fantastic-style sports games.
The resulting product, a re-imagining of the SNES title Mega Man Soccer, was released for the GameCube and Dreamcast in November 2005. It featured a simplified version of the sport, also known as football, starring Mega Man characters from across the franchise, including the original Mega Man, Zero, Lan, and various villains. Special elements such as over-the-top "Power Strikes" made this game stand out among the competing, more conventional, sports games. Mega Man Soccer was somewhat well received, selling slightly under 2 million copies across the two platforms, mostly on the GameCube, and receiving a Metascore of 77 on that platform. The game received lower scores on the Dreamcast mainly due to its lack of online play, a staple of Dreamcast sports games.
After the immediate success of Mega Man Soccer, Capcom collaborated with Next Level Games to make a sequel, subtitled Powered Up. Powered Up was released in May 2007, about one and a half years later, for the Revolution and Pluto. The game's main addition was online play, in addition to a general growth in features, characters, arenas, etc. This game was thus notably better received, with a Metascore of 8- on both platforms, and approximately 50% higher sales.
Next Level continued their relationship with Capcom with another re-imagining of a classic franchise, 2009's Final Fight. Essentially a reboot of the 20 year old series, 2009's Final Fight sported cel-shaded graphics, a new campaign based on the original trilogy, and a new stage-based design that did away with the original game's traditional "quarter-munching" gameplay and replaced it with deeper gameplay. Although the game's controls were similar to the arcade original, the placement of items, weapons, interactive environments, and alternate paths made the game far more complex than the original. 2009's Final Fight sold less impressively than the Mega Man Soccer games, but was Next Level's biggest critical hit yet, with a Metascore of 85.
Next Level Games then began working on two projects simultaneously. On one hand, the company spent some time working on porting licensed games for THQ and Activision. However, Next Level was once again contacted by Capcom to work on one of their series: Devil May Cry. Their entry in the series, meant for the Game Boy 3DS, would be the first entry made specifically for a handheld rather than a console. Eventually titled Dante Must Die, the game starred a young demon-hunter Milton, who was sent on a quest to slay the series protagonist Dante. The game was first shown at E3 2011, and was released January 2013 the same day as the reboot DmC, despite taking place in a separate continuity.
Despite being the handheld spinoff, many fans considered Dante Must Die to be the better of the two 2013 entries in the series. In addition to keeping the original continuity, Dante Must Die was arguably the best 3D Action game in handheld history. Featuring a total of 20 stages to play through, the game featured quality gameplay and a presentation on par with the Dreamcast originals, thanks both to the Game Boy 3DS's power and the skill of Next Level Games. The game quickly became one of the best-selling and most renowned Game Boy 3DS titles from outside of Nintendo.
Recently, Next Level Games announced that they would be working solely with Capcom in the future. Their current projects are unknown.
Partial List of Games Edit
- NHL Hitz Pro - 2003(GameCube, Dreamcast)
- Mega Man Soccer - 2005 (GameCube, Dreamcast)
- Mega Man Soccer: Powered Up - 2007 (Revolution, Pluto)
- Final Fight - 2009 (Revolution, Pluto)
- Dante Must Die - 2013 (Game Boy 3DS)