HAL Laboratory is a Japanese video game developer founded on 1980-02-21. Their name is derived from the computer company IBM, but with each letter being the preceding letter in the alphabet. The company has had close ties with Nintendo for most of its existence and often develops games with Nintendo brands that are published by Nintendo including the Kirby, Mother, and Super Smash Bros. series. However, the company also had some popularity with their own publications like the Adventures of Lolo.
HAL Laboratory first started developing games for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64, mostly by porting Namco and later Atari titles, or making clones of existing popular games. In 1983, they branched out to the Japanese home computer market including the MSX, PC-88, and Sharp X1. Starting in 1984, they began working with Nintendo because HAL programmer Satoru Iwata was very familiar with the MOS 6502, the processor used in the NES. Iwata programmed several of Nintendo's early NES titles including Pinball, Golf, and Balloon Fight. This began a relationship between the two companies, and Iwata would later go on to become the president of Nintendo. HAL now exclusively develops Nintendo titles.
In the 8-bit era, I always assumed HAL was actually "Hai" because of their US logo which strangely used a lowercase 'l' with the 'HA' in uppercase. I always like their logo, which is similar in design to the IBM logo. Although I had no special appreciation for the company, I remember liking the concept of the Adventures of Lolo which I had first seen in a strategy guide. Looking back at the company's work, I am impressed with their wide variety of game styles.
Here are some of the games HAL Laboratory created that are important to me.
Nearly all of the games HAL developed for Nintendo do not feature their logo.
The earliest HAL logo appears to have been adopted in 1983 for their Japanese MSX releases. It was drawn in various color, red and yellow being the most common. Sometimes it had a white outline. By about 1985, a variant with a gold field with white text became the most popular. It continued to be used until 1988.
These are people who worked at HAL Laboratory whose work I appreciate.
- Masahiro Sakurai - Designer
- Pikio Midorikawa - Designer
- Satoru Iwata - Programmer, producer
- Shigesato Itoi - Writer