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.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ne3mjd/hal-laboratory-metal-slader-glory-nintendo-history