HAL Laboratory

HAL Laboratory, Inc.[b], formerly shortened as HALKEN (derived from its native name), is a Japanese video game developer founded on February 21, 1980. While independent, it has been closely tied with Nintendo throughout its history. The company is headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, and it also has a building at Kai, Yamanashi.[4] The company got its name because "each letter put them one step ahead of IBM".[5] The company is most famous for their work on the Kirby and Mother series, as well as the first two Super Smash Bros. games.

HAL Laboratory, Inc.
Native name
Kabushiki gaisha Haru Kenkyūjo
Kabushiki gaisha
IndustryVideo games
Founded21 February 1980; 40 years ago (1980-02-21) in Kanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
FounderMitsuhiro Ikeda
HeadquartersKanda Square, 2-2-1 Kandanishiki-cho, ,
Number of locations
2 studios[a] (2019)
Key people
  • Chairman of the Board
  • Masayoshi Tanimura
  • President
  • Shigefumi Kawase
  • Director of Laboratory
  • Satoshi Mitsuhara
  • Former Presidents
  • Mitsuhiro Ikeda
  • Tsuyoshi Ikeda
  • Satoru Iwata
  • HAL America President
  • Yash Terakura
Number of employees
195 (2020)
SubsidiariesWarpstar, Inc. (50%)
Footnotes / references

The logo, Inutamago (Japanese: 犬たまご "Dog Eggs") depicts a dog incubating eggs, which has been in use since 1998.


HAL Laboratory started off making games for the MSX system and the Commodore VIC-20.[6] After financial strain brought on from the development of Metal Slader Glory (1991) for the Famicom,[7] Nintendo offered to rescue HAL from bankruptcy on the condition that HAL employee Satoru Iwata was appointed as its president, which he became between 1993 and 2000.[8] Iwata later became president of Nintendo.

The logo 'Inutamago' was commissioned in 1998 by then HAL Laboratory president, Satoru Iwata. This was handled by Shigesato Itoi who went through many different ideas. He went with the theme of 'an unexpected bond...one that brings the birth of something new' which would lead to the idea of a dog incubating eggs in a nest. The actual design was created by Mr. Akiyama of HAL. The design was indoctrinated by HAL Laboratory in 1998 although the reception at first was lukewarm.[9]

In many of its games during the early to mid-1990s it used the name HALKEN, derived from their Japanese name. Some of its early titles were also released as HAL America Inc. (HAI), a North American subsidiary of the company led by Yash Terakura and based in Beaverton, Oregon, USA.[10]

In August 2001, HAL Laboratory and Nintendo established Warpstar, Inc. in a joint venture (where each part owns 50% of the company) with the objective to manage the Kirby IP along with its copyright, which the decision for the creation of the company was mainly for Kirby: Right Back at Ya! anime series. After the end of the anime, the company still exists and now works with license and supervision of the character in games, merchandise and other media.[4][11]

For years, the company's development center at Tokyo was located within the eighth floor of the Nintendo Tokyo Prefecture Building which itself is located Nihombashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, but in August 2003, the company announced that a restructuration was happening and that the development center at the building would be relocated to HAL's main office building in Kanda Suda-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. While this change happened on the Tokyo based company, the Yamanashi part of HAL was unaffected by the changes of the company.[12]

In 2017, HAL Laboratory announced that they would develop and self-publish games for mobile devices with the brand HAL Egg and focusing on completely new characters and franchises, with different types of design than what the developers of the company usually do. The first title launched by them was Part Time UFO.[13]

In 2020, HAL Laboratory updated their employee numbers from 169 to 195 and the company came back to the new Nintendo Tokyo Building with its main office and the Tokyo development studio, being on the same building along with Nintendo EPD Tokyo, Nintendo PTD Tokyo, 1-Up Studio and Game Freak like a keiretsu.[14] With that said, the Yamanashi studio continues on the same location as before and wasn't transferred to the Nintendo building.

List of gamesEdit

Nintendo systemsEdit

Family Computer Disk SystemEdit

Nintendo Entertainment SystemEdit

Game BoyEdit

Super NESEdit

Nintendo 64Edit

Game Boy ColorEdit


Game Boy AdvanceEdit

Nintendo DSEdit


Nintendo 3DSEdit

Wii UEdit

Nintendo SwitchEdit

Other systemsEdit

Commodore VIC-20Edit

Commodore MAX Machine[15]/Commodore 64Edit

  • Pool
  • Billiards
  • Bowling
  • Jupiter Lander
  • Le Mans
  • Mole Attack
  • Money Wars
  • Pinball Spectacular
  • Road Race
  • Slalom

Coleco VisionEdit

  • Mr. Chin


  • Balance
  • Butamaru Pants
  • Cue Star
  • Dragon Attack
  • Dunk Shot
  • Eggerland Mystery
  • Eggerland 2
  • Fruit Search
  • Gall Force
  • Heavy Boxing
  • Hole in One
  • Hole in One Professional
  • Inside the Karamaru
  • Inspecteur Z
  • Mobile Planet Stillus/The Roving Planet Stillus
  • Mr. Chin
  • Pachipro Densetsu
  • Picture Puzzle
  • Rollerball
  • Space Maze Attack
  • Space Trouble
  • Step Up
  • Super Billiards
  • Super Snake
  • Swimming Tango
  • Tetsuman
  • The Roving Planet Styllus


  • Hole in One Special
  • Zukkoke Yajikita Onmitsudoutyuu
  • Mr. Ninja – Ashura's Chapter



  • Part Time UFO (2017)
  • Housuu de Shoubu! Kame Sanpo (2019)

Computer AnimationEdit


  1. ^ Tokyo R&D Center and Yamanashi R&D Center
  2. ^ Japanese: 株式会社ハル研究所 Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Haru Kenkyūjo


  1. ^ https://www.hallab.co.jp/eng/company/profile/
  2. ^ https://www.hallab.co.jp/eng/company/history/
  3. ^ https://www.hallab.co.jp/eng/company/symbol/
  4. ^ a b "Corporate Info". HAL Laboratories. Retrieved 17 September 2007.
  5. ^ Madden, Orla (30 November 2012). "Iwata Explains Where The Name HAL Laboratory Came From". nintendolife.com. Nintendo Life. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  6. ^ "What was Japan for Commodore?". commodore.ca. 16 February 2004. Archived from the original on 26 August 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  7. ^ Crimmins, Brian (21 November 2017). "Why Does HAL Laboratory Only Make Nintendo Games?". Waypoint. Archived from the original on 2 September 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Satoru Iwata – 1999 Developer Interview". Used Games (in Japanese). 1999. (Translation Archived 12 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine)
  9. ^ "Satoru Iwata Wasn't Hot on the Earthbound Creator's Logo for HAL Labs". USGamer.net. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Yash Terakura joins Throwback Entertainment as Chief Technology Officer". GamesIndustry.biz. 11 May 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Iwata Asks: Kirby's Epic Yarn". Nintendo of Europe GmbH. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  12. ^ Bayer, Glen (6 October 2005). "HAL Laboratory: Company Profile". nsidr. Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  13. ^ Romano, Sal (22 August 2017). "HAL Laboratory launches smartphone game brand HAL Egg, first title due out this fall in Japan". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  14. ^ https://www.hallab.co.jp/company/profile/
  15. ^ "The Ultimax Collection". Commodore 64 Preservation Project. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2012.

External linksEdit