“I’m Quitting Hal Laboratory!”

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this post.

This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Masahiro Sakurai’s book: Think About the Video Games. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. If you have any questions about this article, please contact the administrator.

Weekly Famitsu: August 22nd/29th, 2003. Volume 18

This is an abrupt announcement, but I’m quitting Hal Laboratories, the game development company I have worked for up until now.

The name

At this time, I haven’t really decided what I will do next. Consequently, no one head-hunted me away from Hal Laboratories. In any case, I decided to leave the company myself.

Now, I’m sure I have to tell you the reason. Roughly speaking, part of the reason is I felt that in the current organization that it would be difficult to continue making games. The other part of the reason that I left is because I felt there would be appeal in working with a variety of other content creators. [1]

Once Hal Laboratories accepted my resignation, they notified the entire company. Afterwards, I met with Mr. Iwata, the chief president of Nintendo. Mr. Iwata was my former supervisor. [2] While Mr. Iwata felt that it was really unfortunate that I would be leaving Hal Laboratories, he understood my rational and supported me.

Right now, I am not planning on working for a different company or organization as a company employee or a developer.  For now, I think I will work as a free agent, taking on light work so I can be flexible. I disliked the notion of living a life just making games, climbing up the company ladder and receiving a contracted salary.In addition, I think it would be good to sneakily help out on small projects here and there, improving my Famitsu column from a “developer” perspective.

Of course, when making a game, the staff and I must rely on and trust each other. Even I don’t think that I could succeed if I keep moving around. Therefore, I may end up finding somewhere that suits me.

With the declining economy, the game industry’s competition is growing fiercer than ever. It’s even gotten to a point where I’m afraid that other developers can’t survive. If only I could point the motivated developers in the right direction, even in a “small way”[3].  I want everyone to understand that I am not making games for other developers, or for a company. I am making them for the customers.

I have already talked a lot about my exciting work plans. However, I’m only one person, so I may not be able to take on all the projects that I’d like to, but I’m not saying that I’m finished making games!

Please don’t worry, the Kirby series will continue to be made by Hal Laboratories. I do not know about Smash right now! I’m sorry! [4]


Even though the future is unknown, I feel as if I’m lining up at an all new starting line, and I’m very excited! Setting my own path, without interruption feels extremely wonderful. I believe that I still need to study, and that challenging and difficult times lay ahead, but I look forward to it!


Interviewer: It’s finally here!

Sakurai: We fought a lot about this column.

Interviewer: Our Chief Editor told us to stop but…

Sakurai: That’s right. There’s been a lot of drama behind this column’s serialization.

Interviewer: We had asked you to help write a column, and then this happened. I thought about it 24/7. Anyway, weren’t you worried about how to discuss it with the Chief Editor?

Sakurai: It was pretty difficult for me. I kept wondering where I should talk about the incident if I wasn’t allowed to write about it here.

Interviewer: A lot of things happened, but I clearly remember ‘Mr. Sakurai missing the last train and being unable to return home’ (laughs).

Sakurai: ….Oh, of course. It was because I met with the editor-in-chief that I was late for the train.

Interviewer: The editing department primarily uses e-mail to communicate, but with this incident we thought it would be best to call. When we called you, we found out you were house-hunting in Tokyo by sheer coincidence. [4] Since you were here, we decided to call you to the office.

Sakurai: I don’t think I started talking with the Chief Editor until around 8 PM. I had to really convince them to publish it…

Interviewer: I think you talked right up until the last train to Yamanashi was about to leave.

Sakurai: There ended up being a suicide on the train line so services had stopped and the train leaving from Shinjuku was delayed.

Interviewer: I thought that you could make it if you took a taxi to Shinjuku but afterwards you called and said, “I can’t get home”. As I was arranging for a hotel, you had to return to the office.

Sakurai: Yes….

Interviewer: It was in the middle of the night, around 1 AM, I think. We couldn’t let you be bored so I told everyone at the office to take turns talking with you (laughs). For us in the editing department, 1 AM is crunch time. However, it was unthinkable that you were still there. Yet, you were in the meeting space so everyone said, “Sakurai is so lively!” It was very funny.

Sakurai: Thanks for taking care of me. Looking back on the manuscript, because I was told that so many different places had to change, in the process of editing, even I started to get confused.


[1] This is exactly what Sakurai did after leaving Hal Laboratory. He worked with Sega on a Mushiking game, and Meteos with Takeshi Hira. With both Brawl and Smash for 3DS/ Wii U, Sakurai has continued to work with a variety of content creators.

[2] Iwata was the chief president of Hal Laboratories, before transferring to Nintendo. He worked with Sakurai on various games, including the original prototype of Smash Brothers.  For more information, check out this article I wrote, “Thank Iwata for Smash“.

[3] “Small way” is in quotes in the original text, so we decided to keep it. Sakurai most likely means helping other developers with ideas, or with random issues that might have. In a later Famitsu Column, he talks about taking requests for consulting. Eventually, Sora Ltd. would be established for Brawl. This is not to be confused with Project Sora, which is Kid Icarus: Uprising’s original project name….now I’m just ranting.

[4] This is because Iwata and Sakurai had a gentleman’s agreement over Smash when Sakurai left. For the full story of Brawl, please check out, “I’m Making Smash“.

[5] Sakurai is originally from Tokyo. When working at Hal Laboratories, Sakurai was living in Yamanashi Prefecture. However, after he quit Hal, he moved back to Tokyo. His next published column goes into detail about his game collection, and moving to Tokyo. He has continued to live somewhere in Tokyo since 2003.

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