Though today it is mostly known as a major partner with Nintendo, it's easy to forget that HAL Laboratory began life as a developer and publisher in the late 80s and very early 90s. It was a small studio in these early days, but even here the team found a decent amount of success. Nintendo trusted them with the development of several early NES games, like Golf and Balloon Fight. They started publishing other studios' games as early as 1987 (the NES port of Stargate) and as late as early 1991 ( Kabuki: Quantum Fighter). The average observer at the time would have no reason to believe HAL needed to enter a partnership like the one they’re currently in with Nintendo.
I have always found the studios that are partnered with Nintendo (e.g. Game Freak, Intelligent Systems, HAL Laboratory) to be fascinating and often under-discussed. Despite producing some of the flagship games for the company, the line is often blurred and they are lumped in with ‘Nintendo’ for all intents and purposes (Fire Emblem is a major case in point for IS). That was what invited me to smash that link and get reading.
Crimmins’ introduction and interview to Yoshimiru Hoshi is genuinely fascinating and I’d love to read more about them. While Metal Slader Glory wasn’t a commercial success, Crimmins is astute to point out that it is a fascinating game, if only for Yoshimiru’s dedication to it. What a wild and weird thing.
Game Informer had a chance to visit the Game Freak offices earlier this year and talk to them in depth about their creative process regarding the Pokémon series and their relationship with Nintendo. The devs are really chill and the whole feature is super interesting and I recommend digging into it, but one of the most interesting bits for me was them saying they had no real contractual obligation to stick to Nintendo platforms, but that they valued their partnership with them so much that they haven’t really looked at other places to put their games. Nintendo and Pokémon are so synonymous at this point when it comes to games that it kinda took me by surprise to learn about it.
There’s an inaccuracy in the article-- the very popular chip Super Mario Bros 3 used was the MMC3 chip, not the MMC5, which pretty much only Koei used regularly. In fact, the only popular non-Koei game I know of to use the MMC5 was Castlevania III.