HAL Laboratory

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HAL Laboratory, Inc.
HAL Laboratory.png
Founded February 21, 1980
Headquarters Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Website hallab.co.jp
Other Names HAL America, Inc.
HAL Labs
ハル研 (Halken)

HAL Laboratory, Inc. (株式会社ハル研究所, Haru Kenkyujo = Hal Laboratory Co., Ltd.) is a Japanese game developer who are best known for their Kirby, Adventures of Lolo, and Super Smash Bros. franchises. The company was founded by Satoru Iwata, who later became the chairman of Nintendo. HAL originally started as a developer of computer games, primarily for the MSX. They ended up becoming a second-party developer for Nintendo, when they were asked to help with the development of Pinball (NES).

The company was named after the HAL 9000 computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the company also explained their name put them ahead of IBM with its preceding letters. Throughout their career, HAL has used a few different variations of their name. Around 1988, the company started an American publishing division HAL America Inc., better known as HAI, which was headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. The company folded after only a few years. In Japan, mainly during their SNES development phase, they went by the moniker HALKEN, which is a shortening of their original Japanese name, HAL Kenkyujo.

HAL continues to develop games to this day. They also had a subsidiary, Dice.

The company's key people were Satoru Iwata, Makoto "FLZ" Kanai, Hiroaki Suga|Hiroaki "GSX" Suga, and many others.


Music Development

Commodore 64

According to Bob Yannes, HAL strictly adhered to his flawed SID datasheet and did not care that their audio was out of tune and muffled. Their music is certainly tuned at 450 Hz.


The music started out being written in assembly. However, HAL later created Music Maker, a program which allowed its user to enter the music in a custom Music Macro Language. However, the earliest games by the company (Tokoro-san no Mamoru mo Semeru mo and Vegas Dream) contracted Kazuo Sawa, who used Hiroshi Yamazaki's sound driver. However, Vegas Dream was composed by Kuni Kawachi, with Sawa being the sound designer, and most likely the arranger.

HAL's original driver was later upgraded with better instruments, as well as drums and percussion for the DPCM channel. This driver was known for being used in games such as Kirby's Adventure, Adventures of Lolo 3, and New Ghostbusters II.

Hideki Kanazashi and Hiroaki Suga were originally HAL's music and sound designers, respectively. However, when Kanazashi quit around 1990, Jun Ishikawa and Hirokazu Ando took his place, and Suga, while continuing to work at HAL Laboratory, received less music credits.


HAL used a variant of Nintendo's Kankichi-kun driver and used at least four different variants.

Another version was programmed by Suga for SimCity 2000 and Wario's Woods. This version of the driver streams music from the S-SMP, so SPC files cannot be ripped.

Audio Personnel