The current logo.

HAL Laboratory, Inc. (株式会社ハル研究所, Kabushikigaisha Haru Kenkyūjo) is a Japanese video game company that was founded on February 21, 1980. The company is most famous for its character Kirby, the protagonist of the eponymous video game series, as well as the Super Smash Bros. series. It is a second-party development studio of Nintendo.

History

The HAL Logo from 1980 to 1988

HAL Laboratory's first games were made in the early 1980s for home computers like the MSX, Apple II, VIC-20, and Commodore 64. They were also known as a designer and manufacturer of computer peripherals, particularly trackball controllers.

Prior to the creation of Kirby, HAL Laboratory was most well known as a game developer for the Eggerland puzzle-action game series, which made its debut with Eggerland Mystery on MSX in 1985, and for the Hole in One golf simulation series. Their first title created for a Nintendo platform was F1 Race, a 1984 racing game for the Famicom that was published by Nintendo exclusively in Japan. In 1985, F1 Race was reworked into Mach Rider, which was made for both the NES and the Famicom. It replaced the race car with a futuristic motorcycle, and added new gameplay elements. HAL's work on both games went officially uncredited by Nintendo, though the developers were able to hide their names in a high score listing, along with a reference to Eggerland. [1]

The Eggerland series would eventually move onto the Famicom Disk System and then the Famicom, before it was brought to the NES for Western territories and renamed Adventures of Lolo. HAL later abandoned the Eggerland series in favor of Kirby, but it received two final entries on Game Boy and Windows PC that postdated the release of Kirby's Dream Land. Despite being a defunct game series, HAL Laboratory continues to pay homage to Eggerland within the Kirby series through the characters Lololo & Lalala.

Before HAL Laboratory was bought by Nintendo, a game titled Metal Slader Glory was released for the Famicom in 1991. Despite having a development of more than 4 years, having a 8 megabit cartridge (the largest at the time), and having advanced graphics, the game sold poorly, which led HAL Laboratory to bankruptcy. Nintendo then bought the company, ending HAL Laboratory's life as an independent publisher. HAL became even more closely tied to Nintendo in later years, and their sysdolphin game development software suite was provided by Nintendo to third-party GameCube developers.

Spring Logo

In many of its games during the early to mid-1990s it used the name HALKEN (derived from their literal Japanese name "HAL KENkyūjo") as well as HAL Laboratory. Some of its early titles were also released as HAL America, a North American subsidiary of the company. At the time, HALKEN has two variations of its logo: one of them was the Spring mark. In Japanese pronunciation, "HAL" is "はる (haru)," and "春 (Spring)" is also pronounced "はる." "Spring" can also mean a physical tool, "バネ," so this logo was modeled on the physical tool, "Spring."

An important figure of HAL Laboratory is Masahiro Sakurai, who created the Kirby character and the Super Smash Bros. franchise, and now leads his own company, Sora Ltd. Sakurai resigned from HAL Laboratory in 2003 after criticizing Nintendo's handling of Kirby Air Ride's development, but continues to be involved with Nintendo through Sora Ltd.

HAL Corporation

The HAL Corporation logo as seen in Blade (GBC)

On August 3, 1992, a related company known as HAL Corporation was founded as an independent video game publisher by Mikio Ikeda, the former and first president of HAL Laboratory. They were also listed as a designer of computer peripherals. While a separate entity from HAL Laboratory, the two companies had some degree of collaboration: HAL Corporation licensed intellectual property from the other HAL to develop and publish the final game in the Eggerland series, Fukkatsu! Eggerland. It was released for Japanese Windows PCs in 1996, outside of Nintendo exclusivity. Following a 2001 reprint of this game, there have been no further known releases from HAL Corporation, and it is presumed that they are no longer in business.

HAL Egg

The HAL Egg logo

In 2017, HAL Laboratory made a return as an independent publisher with its new company brand HAL Egg. The brand was established to focus on new ideas and gameplay concepts outside of the Kirby series. The first game to be released under the HAL Egg name was Part Time UFO, a physics-based puzzle/action game for iOS and Android devices. [2] Initially released in Japan in November 2017, it received a localized English version in February 2018. HAL Egg's second mobile game, Housuu de Shoubu! Kame Sanpo, is a Japanese exclusive. It released in October 2019.

PasocomMini

HAL Laboratory also returned to the Japanese hardware market as a computer manufacturer in 2017, with the PasocomMini MZ-80C. It is a miniaturized recreation of the MZ-80C computer made by Sharp Corporation in 1979. Using software emulation of the original hardware, it is capable of freely running the user's own BASIC code, along with a selection of included programs. HAL's MZ-80C was followed up by the PasocomMini PC-8001 in 2019, a similar recreation of a 1979 computer by NEC.

Influences on the Kirby series

HAL Rooms

KPR Maxim Tomato.png Main article: HAL Room

A recurring Easter egg in many Kirby games is a hidden area containing Star Blocks arranged to spell out "HAL." Not all HAL Rooms are hidden in obscure locations, nor do all make use of Star Blocks to spell out the company's name.

Game Cameos

KPR Maxim Tomato.png Main article: Cameos

Many of HAL Laboratory's other properties reference the Kirby series or are referenced in Kirby games. These include the following:

  • Eggerland series (1985-2001)
  • Revenge of the 'Gator (1989)
  • Uchuu Keibitai SDF (1990)
  • HyperZone (1991)
  • Trax (1991)
  • Arcana (1992)
  • EarthBound (1994)
  • Super Smash Bros. series (1998-)
  • BOXBOY! series (2015-)
  • Picross 3D: Round 2 (2016)

Other influences and references

KPR HAAL.jpg

  • The platform number at the train station in Stage 3 of Patched Plains is L∀∀-H. When flipped upside-down, the number becomes H-AA˥, a possible reference to HAL Laboratory.
  • Star Dream and Star Dream Soul OS use the letters H, A, and L to attack Kirby (though Star Dream releases them in reverse order).

TKCD HAL.jpg

Jambandra HAL.jpg

Trivia

  • The president of Nintendo from 2002-2015, Satoru Iwata, was formerly president of HAL from 1993-2000, having first joined the company in 1983.
  • The "HAL" in the company's name was chosen because, alphabetically, each letter was one space ahead of IBM, suggesting superiority over the technology corporation.[3]
  • As HAL sounds like the Japanese pronunciation of 8 and 6, the number 86 is featured on various occasions as a reference to HAL.

HAL Laboratory's 40th anniversary

  • For their 40th anniversary, the employees of HAL Laboratory drew a plethora of characters from media they've created, which included Kirby series characters.
  • A contemporary developer group known as "H. A. L. Labs", founded by Greg Autry, published an unlicensed clone of Namco's PAC-MAN known as "Taxman" on the Apple II platform in 1982. The company is not related to HAL Laboratory other than the similar name.

Artwork

External links

References

MSX Magazine, Issue #0 HAL Corporation official website (retrieved via Archive.org) PasocomMini official website

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