Kirby’s latest adventure is out, but let’s not forget the humble beginnings from whence he came. HAL Laboratory, perhaps Nintendo’s most notable second party developer, is responsible for Kirby’s creation, as well as several other great games throughout the years.
Founded in Tokyo in 1980, the company took its name from HAL 9000, the evil computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Originally making games for the MSX and Commodore 64, the company soon turned to making games for the Famicom Disk System and the NES, including Air Fortress, Kabuki Quantum Fighter, and Earthbound ZERO, known as the original Mother in Japan.
Satoru Iwata: Current president of Nintendo Co., Ltd. He’s worked as a programmer and designer on games in the Kirby and Earthbound series, as well as Balloon Fight, Zelda, Mario, and Animal Crossing. Oh, and he may be the driving force behind the 3DS and Wii.
Masahiro Sakurai: This is the man who created Kirby himself, and legendarily had a feud with Shigeru Miyamoto whether the puffball was pink or yellow (Sakurai sided with pink, in case you were curious). He also has had a lot to do with that there Smash Bros. thingy, Meteos and also is now head of the development studio known as Sora, Ltd. Now, he’s got a new game coming out called Kid Icarus: Uprising.
Notable HAL Games
Eggerland Mystery (MSX): This MSX game featured a few innovations in the puzzle genre, some memorable characters, and eventually became the basis for Adventures of Lolo. It received a Windows port later, too.
Adventures of Lolo (NES): The “real” Lolo game to us fat, lazy Americans. It introduced the Heart Framers, Rockies, and Don Medusa. It was also really freakin’ hard back in the day. Lolo was HAL’s original mascot, but later became overshadowed by the star of the next game.
Kirby’s Adventure (NES): Kirby’s second game was really more important than the first. It’s the first one where Kirby is the right color, and also the first instance of Kirby stealing bad guys’ powers and tossing them… ahem… right back at ’em. In fact, the whole game is really a souped-up version of the first Game Boy game.
Arcana (Super NES): HAL’s stab at the console RPG is one of the Super NES’s unsung classics. Featuring a first-person exploration mode, it predates games like Etrian Odyssey, which also sport a heavy map-based style of dungeon hacking. Since the game was ostensibly card-based, literally everything in the game, from items to enemies to player characters, was a card. Also has some of the best music on the system.
Earthbound 64 (N64): This Earthbound game… never actually came out. It was announced in the late 90’s as a successor to the 16-bit Earthbound, but later became one of several pieces of vaporware on the N64. Among unusual planned features were strumming a 3D guitar in time with the beat and using the N64DD’s Mario Artist to create new faces and looks for characters.
Picross 3D (DS): This game was one of the Touch! Generations series for DS, and has became a big enough hit that it sold through its first printing far faster than anticipated, despite a near-total lack of Mario. Did you know it’s HAL’s first time working on the series? Plus, you could download puzzles off the Internet! BAM!