Retro making Mario Kart 3DS, Luigi’s Mansion 2 not in-house

Two of the big reveals for Nintendo’s 3DS at yesterday’s press conference were Mario Kart 3DS and, more surprisingly, Luigi’s Mansion 2. The Big N has lined up some top talent to develop both games, but Luigi’s return won’t be coming from an in-house team.

During an E3 roundtable the company revealed that: “We found someone to help with it and they are called Next Level Games. We have worked with them in the past on Mario Strikers and Punch-Out!! They got very excited when we asked them to do it.”

Wii fans were certainly impressed with the Punch-Out!! update, so maybe Next Level can turn Luigi’s own franchise from Gamecube bomb to 3DS hit.

Perhaps the bigger news is that Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns developer Retro Studios is at work on the next Mario Kart for the handheld. Yesterday’s trailer showed kart-gliders and underwater levels, but we’re hoping that a studio with this kind of talent will deliver some eye-opening twists to the long-running series.

Are these new games enough to pick up on the handheld’s sales?