What's in the top secret bunker at Next Level Games in Vancouver?
In the middle of one of the floors occupied by Next Level Games in downtown Vancouver is a bunker. It’s a walled garden within the studio, complete with its own security access and network connections. Sean Murch, head of business development, told the Straight the space is where development on Nintendo titles takes place.
“When we’re doing work with Nintendo, it is typically of a top-secret nature,” Murch said at the Next Level office.
Next Level was established nearly 10 years ago. While its first game was NHL Hitz Pro (for Midway Games in 2003), the company has become known for its work on key Nintendo franchises such as Mario Strikers (Super Mario Strikers for GameCube in 2005 and Mario Strikers Charged for Wii in 2007) and Punch-Out!! (for Wii in 2009). Allowing Next Level to have the freedom to work for other publishers, Nintendo asked the company to install the bunker to meet its stringent security requirements.
The only people who know what’s being developed in that room are those who’ve been assigned to that development team, Murch explained. “At first it was a little bit of a joke,” he said, “and people would tease each other to get the information out.” There was, he admitted, something being created in the bunker, though he would not provide any additional information.
However, after Murch’s interview took place, Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto introduced Luigi’s Mansion 2 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. A new platform game in development for the company’s 3DS handheld, this title is being created in the bunker at Next Level.