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HAL Laboratory

Beard View: BOXBOY! photo
Beard View: BOXBOY!

Beard View: BOXBOY!

"I'm hella fly, I think that is what rappers say."
Apr 02
// Jed Whitaker
HAL Laboratory's BOXBOY! launched today for the Nintendo 3DS via the eshop for $4.99. I purchased BOXBOY! with my hard-earned human dollars to give you all a Beard View! You'll give it a watch, won't you? HAL has p...

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is almost too cute for words

Jun 12 // Darren Nakamura
The hands-on demo at E3 did not spend any time on the story behind Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, but presumably, the titular curse is the reason Kirby once again finds himself in ball form, stripped of his usual power to eat everything. Instead, I jumped straight into gameplay. Players have a limited bank of clay to create platforms with the stylus, and if Kirby touches one, he will follow the shape and direction of the drawn platform. The clay rainbow is a bit sticky, so Kirby can ride upside on it before launching off the end. I spent a bit of time (probably too much) just making him do loops, just for fun. What gives Rainbow Curse a bit of a challenge are smoky, colorless areas of a level that disallow any rainbow drawing inside. They do not harm Kirby in any way, so he can travel through them, but it requires adept use of his abilities to turn him into a projectile, or keen exploration to find another way to launch him using the environment. Used well, these could inject puzzle elements into what is otherwise more action-oriented. Speaking of the action, there are a few particularly satisfying sections that require the player to charge up Kirby's dash to get through, at which point he cascades through a sort of chain reaction, sending him bouncing around like a pinball. It had an almost Sonic-like feel to it, where speed and exploding clay are used as a reward for figuring out how to complete an objective. Taking the idea of a malleable substance like clay, Kirby has the ability to morph into other objects. The trailer showed him as a submarine, a rocket, and a tank, but I did not get to try any of those out first hand. If it is like Canvas Curse, Kirby gains those abilities by defeating particular enemies, but at this point it is not clear if that is the case. For the most part, we already knew what to expect from Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Really, Nintendo could have done nothing but release the image of clay ball Kirby riding on a rainbow, and it would have been enough for fans. What little I played was as much of a delight as I had expected, and the clay aesthetic is particularly suited to the Kirby franchise.
Kirby Wii U photo
Claymation in games will never get old
Nearly ten years ago, Kirby: Canvas Curse graced our original Nintendo DS handhelds, showing us (once again) that Kirby games could be about things other than floating around, ingesting bugs, and vomiting stars. Canvas Curse ...

Kirby photo

Why is Kirby so angry in the US, anyway?

In Japan, cute (i.e., normal) Kirby 'brings in the most people to play'
Apr 28
// Jordan Devore
Have you ever noticed how Kirby has mean-looking eyebrows on box art in the US? It's one of those things that can't be unseen, like the little arrow in the FedEx logo. Anyway, I've never understood it -- Kirby is such a feel-...

Iwata casually explains the meaning of HAL Laboratory

He's about to blow your mind
Nov 30
// Chris Carter
Every Nintendo fan knows of HAL Laboratory. The guys that are primarily responsible for the Kirby series, with the cute logo? Until now, people pretty much had an idea of where they got the name, but that's about to change. I...

Review: Kirby's Dream Collection

Sep 19 // Jim Sterling
Kirby's Dream Collection (Wii)Developer: HAL Laboratory, NintendoPublisher: NintendoRelease: September 16, 2012MSRP: $39.99 Kirby's Dream Collection contains six of the bigger titles in the series, culled from the its 20-year span. Kirby's Dream Land, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards are brought together in one package, selectable from an easy-to-navigate but cheerfully animated menu screen. Each game is faithfully represented, so there are no enhancements to the experiences -- they are as they were. The two Game Boy games are probably the most dated, but they still manage to be fun and are worth having as essential curios, the same being said of Kirby's Adventure. Though enjoyable, these don't quite hold up to today's standards. Most players will find themselves tiring of them fairly quickly, but they're worth at least dipping into now and again. Kirby's Dream Land 3, however, is still great. While the ability to team up with weird characters to further enhance Kirby's powers debuted in Dream Land 2, the SNES sequel is where it really shines, with six odd creatures to recruit. Experimenting to see how Kirby's different copy abilities work when he's being rolled by a cat or carried by an owl is just as joyous as it ever was. Ultimately, it's a solid SNES game in which you can spend half your time wearing a living fish like a big bouncing suit. There is no more compelling an experience. [embed]235302:45134[/embed] Kirby Super Star is something of a letdown, as Dream Collection uses the original SNES version and not the enhanced, superior version known as Kirby Super Star Ultra on Nintendo DS. While the original has historical worth, it's simply not as good as the portable remake and isn't worth playing if you already have the updated alternative. The Crystal Shards is a fun enough Nintendo 64 game, and probably the highlight of the collection based on its size in comparison to the other titles. It's also one of the weirder games in the series, featuring a range of creative boss fights against possessed creatures and the power to absorb two copy abilities to create all-new attacks -- something I wish had been made more of a series staple, since it's brilliant. The six classic titles offer a nice look back at several highlights of Kirby's career, but I feel that Nintendo missed a trick by not including some of the more obscure spin-offs. Games like the golf-inspired Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby's Pinball Land, or even 2003's Air Ride would have been fine examples of just how varied and experimental the series has been over the years. The included games are all solid looks at more traditional platformers, but Kirby has had so many odd adventures in the past two decades that I'd have preferred to have seen a few more of his stranger outings. In addition to the classic games, there is an all-new series of special challenge levels based on 2011's Return to Dream Land. These timed tests give Kirby one predetermined copy ability and challenge him to get to the end of the stage while killing enemies and destroying blocks to accrue as high a score as possible, and taking damage will naturally incur a points penalty. At the end of each series of challenges, players can take on Magalor in platform races inspired by Super Star's Gourmet Race courses. While not a selling point on its own, the challenge mode is a very welcome addition. It's great to see some original content go into a collection like this; the designers didn't get lazy with it, ensuring the courses are quite inventive and uniquely tailored to challenge one's skill with each copy ability. It serves as the perfect distraction when playing through the classics becomes a bit tiring. By far the highlight of the package is the interactive timeline. Spanning from 1992 to 2012, players can move Kirby along a path littered with trophies and games. Each year contains a window full of fun facts and historical tidbits, charting the election of Bill Clinton, the dates of each of the Olympic Games, and each of Nintendo's console releases. Every game in Kirby's library has its own specific page full of details, gameplay footage, and interactive box art. This is also where users can find three full episodes of the amusing (and incredibly silly) anime Kirby: Right Back At Ya! The theme tune is still far too catchy, and King Dedede still needs A MONSTAH TO CLOBBAH DAT DERE KIRBEH! The Limited Edition also contains a soundtrack and a collectible book -- neither of which are mind-blowing enough to be worth it to the casual admirer but should certainly be enjoyed by fans. The book is particularly adorable and stuffed with all sorts of interesting information and concept art. The soundtrack takes 42 tunes from across Kirby's game library, and includes a further three bonus tunes, exclusively arranged by HAL Laboratory's sound staff.  Presentation is everything, and it just wouldn't be right if a Kirby collection was full of drab, sparse menus. Everything is animated, brimming with life, and packed with music. From the timeline to the simple game selections, Dream Collection goes all out in making sure every inch of the screen is energetic. Any game that doesn't have a save feature can remember your progress upon quitting, and one can easily return to the main menu from any game by hitting the Home button and taking the reset option (which won't reset the entire collection). Too many collections overlook the ability to easily quit out of a game, so it's a very welcome feature. As a hardcore lover of the Kirby series, I doubt any collection could find the right balance of mainstream and obscure titles to satisfy me, but Nintendo and HAL Laboratory have at least done a very admirable job of paying tribute to the pink puffball with genuine affection. The classic games aren't quite the selections I'd have made, but they're all worth checking out, and when combined with the extra content, they become one of the better anniversary packages out there. Kirby fans would be foolish to pass it up, while non-fans will get six good games and a lot of fun silliness for their dime. Can't argue with a deal like that!
Maximum pink!
My love of Kirby is known far and wide. While the games themselves are incredibly simple, the sheer charm of the titular hero and his colorful world makes for endearing, unforgettable adventures. Kirby has also seen some of t...

Review: Kirby's Return to Dream Land

Oct 23 // Jim Sterling
Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 24, 2011MSRP: $49.99 Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a fitting name for a game that takes our blushing cream puff back to the formula that made him famous. He's no longer made of yarn, he's not been split into ten pieces, and he's not rolling around on magical rainbows -- the experimental directions his last few adventures have dabbled in have been replaced with the traditional gameplay that Kirby fans grew up with. Kirby, Meta Knight, Waddle Dee, and King Dedede unite to help a lost alien rebuild his spaceship for no other reason than charming hospitality. Visiting a variety of levels scattered around the Planet Pop Star, each with their own selection of stages and bosses, Kirby is once again doing what he does best -- eating enemies and swallowing them to gain super powers in a significant collection of ambrosial platforming escapades. A vast number of classic Copy Abilities are back, including the Sword, Flame, and Rock powers. A few new skills have been thrown in to keep things fresh, such as the self-explanatory Whip and the incredibly useful Leaf that allows Kirby to summon gusts of shredding greenery. As always, Kirby gets a cute redesign with every power he attains as well as a range of contextual attacks dependent on whether he's jumping, running, standing, or aiming in a specific direction. In addition, Sleep Kirby is back -- a thoroughly useless ability that is nonetheless too cute not to use. At various points in the game, Kirby will be able to access Super Abilities by swallowing glowing enemies. These powers are audacious in their strength, allowing Kirby to summon gigantic swords, controllable energy beams, or roaring flame dragons. These powers can not only rid entire screens of enemies but also break down otherwise indestructible obstacles, clearing the way to special sub-stages that contain increasingly tricky platform challenges and evil "Sphere Doomer" bosses. Kirby's standard ability to inhale objects has been given a boost as well, with a shake of the Wii remote creating a powerful vacuum that sucks in large enemies or impenetrable brick walls. While mostly optional, there are areas where Kirby's suckage will be crucial, especially in those crafty optional stages. For those with extra remotes, other players can drop in or out at any time, stepping into the shoes of Waddle Dee, Dedede, Meta Knight, or a different colored Kirby. Interestingly, the co-op harks back to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with extra players filling more of a "Tails" role than becoming truly independent characters. If secondary players die or fall out of the camera's range, they'll respawn next to the main pink protagonist, as lives and progress are only at risk if the first player dies. Non-Kirby player characters don't possess their own unique attacks either, taking their cues from established Kirby Copy Abilities (Waddle Dee uses Spear, Dedede uses Hammer, and Meta Knight uses Sword). Co-op is fun but entirely optional. There are no forced and convoluted co-op puzzles, instead inviting the kind of couch-based multiplayer that we had in the good old days. Just having friends jump into a game at any time is so much more refreshing than watching two characters help each other open doors in games that are desperate to justify their co-op status. In fact, refreshing is a great word to use for Kirby's Return to Dream Land in its entirety. After a year of complex and brooding games, it's a breath to fresh air to have Kirby on a console again, sticking to the colorful and adorable basics of good, old-fashioned platforming fun. Kirby's more unique adventures have been great, but it's ironically stimulating to have Kirby going back to a conventional title, especially in an industry so pressured to innovate. Kirby doesn't need to innovate, he just needs to be fun; Return to Dream Land brings the fun in spades. As ever, much of the challenge in Return to Dream Land is volitional. Finding hidden items to unlock sub-games and other bonuses can provide considerably more demanding gameplay, but the main stages can be conquered by players of almost any skill level. That said, those who want to see harder platforming action ought to play through to the end, because a few of the latter stages will give such gamers what they're looking for. While the game never ramps up the difficulty to hardcore degrees, these levels put up just enough resistance to satisfy all but the most desensitized of masochists. Graphically, Hal Laboratories deftly ignores the technical limitations of the Wii and delivers a game that looks damn beautiful, despite the standard definition. Character animations bubble with life, and environments are bright and gladdening. If there are any glitches to be found, I couldn't see a single one. As with nearly all Kirby games, there's a great soundtrack on offer, although the selection of tunes aren't quite so memorable as in other titles. Come to think of it, the soundtrack is the only real complaint I can muster about this game. It can take a solid six hours to beat the first time around and packs plenty of extra content to keep it bolstered. The levels are superbly constructed, and the boss fights make for engrossing confrontations. Outside of the music, there's not a single thing about Hal's latest game that I could think of changing for the better. With its impeccable balance of difficulty, satisfyingly simple level design, and insurmountable overload of squishy charm, Return to Dream Land provides a platform experience that comes as close to perfect as one can get. As so many games strive to be considered art or emulate blockbuster movies, it's becoming increasingly rare to find a videogame that sees itself simply as a videogame and devotes itself entirely to giving gamers the kind of authentic, natural fun that many of us grew up enjoying. Although polished to modern standards, Kirby's Return to Dream Land carries the spirit of the 16-bit era in its heart, bringing one back to a time when games could be bright and happy without feeling the need to serve two scoops of cynicism at the same time. This is the kind of game you could once find in abundance on the SNES and Sega Genesis, now refined to a distilled and ultimately superior form. Videogames simply do not get any more pure than Kirby's Return to Dream Land.

Kirby was in line for a Wii game years before we finally saw Kirby's Epic Yarn, a platformer that turned Nintendo's adorable pink puffball into colored string and changed the series' formula considerably. Interestingly, Kirby...

Preview: Kirby Wii

Jul 15 // John Speerbrecker
Kirby Wii (Working title) WiiDeveloper: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoTo be released: Fall 2011 The story begins in Kirby's world as Kirby, Meta Knight, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee are taking a leisurely stroll through the colorful landscape. Then BAM! A giant alien spaceship appears from a rip in the space time continuum and crash-lands in a nearby field. The team rush to the ship where they find a lone character lying unconscious on the floor. He wakes up and is in dire need of the hero's help to repair his ship. The team agrees to help and travel all around Dreamland to find all the parts of the alien's ship to help him return home.  While we couldn't go into specifics about the story, there is the possibility that this "friendly" alien could be a total bad guy using Kirby to do all the legwork so he can take over Kirby's world. That's my theory anyway and hey, it has happened before (See Milky Way Wishes.) You can play Kirby Wii all by yourself, but up to three friends can join in at anytime to work together in co-op. Other players can drop in and out on the fly and friends can play as either Meta Knight, King Dedede or Waddle Dee. Co-op buddies just hit a button to join into the game in progress and if the person needs to pop out for whatever reason, they can just drop out without affecting the main player. All the players share the same number of lives so if a co-op buddy dies, Kirby will lose a life. If Kirby dies, then the entire team will have to start off back at the beginning of the level.   Kirby will consume enemies to take their powers of course, just like the classic games. He can use his super suction to swallow a rattle snake, for example, and through a complex digestion process, a cowboy hat will appear on his head and give him a lasso fight enemies. You'll want to strategize a little bit with the powers you consume in order to get all the items in a level or to help you find that elusive secret warp zone.  Among the varieties of different abilities both new and old are a new set of super power-ups. These new super attacks typically take out everything on the screen but can only be used for a limited period of time. The first of these new super attacks was the giant sword. Kirby can take one swing and eradicate everything on the screen, even certain land objects. My favorite super attack during my hands-on was the fire hat. Used normally, it bellows a short stream of fire to help you along your adventure. When it is powered up, the flame will change into a dragon made of fire and consume all the enemies on the screen. Overall, Kirby Wii was plenty of fun. The incorporation of drop in and out gameplay is a must for those of us that have people at home that love the co-op experience. Also, I can't wait to make people yell at me when I don't give them a hug (a kiss?) to replenish their health.  Here's more on Kirby Wii from our E3 hands-on time. [embed]203285:39202[/embed]

Finally, that little pink puffy character with the suction power of a Dyson will have his first adventure for the Wii in the style of the old school games. Sure, there was Kirby's Epic Yarn, but Kirby Wii (working title) is all about the consuming and gaining of new powers. I had the chance to to check out a few of the levels the other day and from what I played, Kirby Wii is looking really good.

So many Kirbys! Kirby Mass Attack preview

Jul 14 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
[embed]203224:39139[/embed] Kirby Mass Attack (DS)Developer: HAL LaboratoryPublisher: NintendoTo be released: September 19 This time around you need to use your little Kirby army to get through the game, as opposed to the traditional consuming of your enemy's abilities. You start off with one Kirby and must collect fruit to fill up a meter to get more Kirbys. You can get up to ten, after which you'll just continue to accumulate points for collecting fruits. Having multiple Kirbys will be key in order to progress, as there are numerous obstacles and paths that can only be accessed by a certain amount of the pink heroes. Certain obstacles, like giant plants for example, can only be pulled down if you have a few Kirbys latched on. Levels themselves need a minimum amount of Kirbys before you can enter them too, such as the boss stage that requires all ten Kirbys. There will be plenty of replayability too as you go to levels multiple times in order to collect goodies you missed the first go-around like special coins due to lack of Kirbys. Other than that, you can proceed to any level on a map in any order you want, so long as you have the right number of Kirbys. Even though you have a little army, the controls are simple enough so that all the Kirbys respond together. You just tap or hold on the touch screen to move your Kirbys forward. To attack, you tap on an enemy and watch your Kirbys swarm over their target. By doing a flicking motion with the stylus, you can fling your Kirbys at enemies or blocks. You'll also be able to guide your Kirbys by drawing a path, like in Kirby: Canvas Curse. By holding down the stylus on the touch screen, all the Kirbys will clamor around the point you're touching. They'll then follow the path you trace until you've hit the line's length limit. When a Kirby gets hurt, it'll turn blue. If it gets hurt again, it turns into an angel and drifts away. Angel Kirbys can be saved by flicking another Kirby to pull them back down. If the angel escapes though, you can just repeat the whole fruit-collecting thing to bring it one back -- there's plenty of fruit to spare. There's also a healing loop located at the mid-point of each level to heal blue Kirbys. That's basically the gist of it. It's an odd-sounding concept, but just watch the trailer above to get a basic sense of it all. Despite the weird premise, Kirby Mass Attack was plenty of fun. Controls were simple and intuitive, and you're a horrible, inhuman filth monster if you don't like Kirby!

Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby Kirby! Yes, I'm excited for a new Kirby game, but the reason I just repeated the pink little suckball's name is because that's exactly how many Kirbys you'll be controlling in Kirby Mass Attack. An evil villain has split Kirby up into ten pieces, and you need to find a way to put Kirby back together as one.

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