HAL Laboratory logo

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.


HAL Logo 1980-88

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. A very early HAL release for the Apple II, 1982's Taxman, was an unlicensed clone of Namco's PAC-MAN.

Prior to the creation of Kirby, HAL Laboratory was most well known 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 it within the Kirby game series through the characters Lololo and 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. Nevertheless, HAL maintained enough autonomy through the 1990s that they continued to self-publish some of their own games, and would still occasionally cooperate with other publishers and licensors, even releasing two more games on non-Nintendo platforms (Revival! Eggerland for Windows PCs, and Mingle Magnet for WonderSwan). Since the year 2001, HAL has become more closely tied to Nintendo, and their sysdolphin game development software suite was provided by Nintendo to third-party GameCube developers.

Hal lab logo

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."


The HAL Corporation logo as seen in Blade (GBC)

Beginning in the 1990s, HAL Laboratory also used the name "HAL Corporation" for a handful of games that were either made for non-Nintendo platforms, or published by companies other than Nintendo. This name may have been used as a loophole to work around the terms of an exclusivity agreement with Nintendo. The last game to use the HAL Corporation name was Blade on Game Boy Color, a movie tie-in published by Activision in 2000. Perhaps to maintain good relations with Nintendo, HAL Laboratory has never acknowledged any HAL Corporation games as being part of their portfolio, and they are not listed on the company's official release timeline. [2]

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.


Halegg thumb

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. To date, one game has been released under the HAL Egg name: Part Time UFO, a physics-based puzzle/action game for iOS and Android devices. [3] Initially released in Japan in November 2017, it received a localized English version in February 2018.

Influences on the Kirby series

HAL Rooms

KPR Maxim Tomato 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 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

  • 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).
Jambandra HAL


  • 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.[4]
  • As HAL sounds like the Japanese pronunciation of 8 and 6, the number 86 is featured on various occasions as a reference to HAL.
  • For their 40th anniversary, the employees of HAL Laboratory drew a plethora of characters from media they've created, which included Kirby series characters.

    HAL Laboratory's 40th anniversary


External links


  1. Moby Games
  4. Nintendo Life
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