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HAL Laboratory music equipment

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Jun Ishikawa playing a KORG X3 keyboard.

Musicians started to rely heavily on sampling and other electronic hardware in the 1980s. This is a process that started in the late '70s with samplers like the Fairlight CMI, as it was cheaper and easier than hiring live musicians. As video game sound chips evolved from procedural waveforms to sample-based playback starting in the late '80s, it became feasible for games to use these same samples. HAL Laboratory's composers have used many pieces of gear for their music since the late '80s, be it samplers, sound modules, synthesizers, or real instruments. This page documents all of the known sound gear that composers at HAL Laboratory (such as Jun Ishikawa and Hirokazu Ando) have used specifically throughout the Kirby series' music. Official sources for these are referenced if available.

List[edit]

"Since" is based on first recorded usage (independent of it being in a Kirby game or not).

Yamanashi Office  
Type Brand Product Since Known user(s) Relevant usage
DAW Steinberg Cubase Pro 8[1] (unknown, released in 2014) Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa
Hardware Alesis D4 1997 Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Land 3
Hardware KORG Microkey[2] 2016 Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Planet Robobot
Hardware KORG X3[2] 1994 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Kurzweil K2000R[3] 1994 Tadashi Ikegami, Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Kurzweil Orchestral ROM 1994 Tadashi Ikegami, Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Native Instruments KOMPLETE Kontrol S61[4] (unknown) Yuki Shimooka
Hardware Novation Nova[2] 2002 Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
Hardware Roland D-20[5] 1990 Tadashi Ikegami, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3
Hardware Roland JD-990[5] 1997 Tadashi Ikegami, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland JV-1080 1999 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Air Ride
Hardware Roland SH-2[2] 1997 Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland SOUND Canvas SC-8850[3] 2001 Shogo Sakai, Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby Air Ride
Hardware Roland SN-U110-02 Latin and F.X. Percussions 1993 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Super Star, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland SN-U110-06 Orchestral Winds 1992 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland SN-U110-07 Electric Guitar 1997 Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Land 3
Hardware Roland SN-U110-10 Rock Drums 1993 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland SN-U110-11 Sound Effects 1992 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Super Star
Hardware Roland SR-JV80-05 World 2000 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Roland U-220 1991 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Yamaha DX100[3] 1991 Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Hardware Yamaha MU2000EX[3] 2001 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Air Ride
Instrument Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo 4HH[1] 2009 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Sound Track, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe Soundtrack, Kirby 30th Anniversary Music Festival
Instrument Suzuki Andes 25F[1] 2009 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Sound Track, Kirby's Epic Yarn
Instrument Suzuki Melodion[1] 2009 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Sound Track, The Sound of Kirby Café 2
Sample Library Best Service Advanced Orchestra 2001 Hirokazu Ando, Shogo Sakai Kirby Air Ride, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Sample Library EastWest & Masterbits Peter Siedlaczek's Orchestra 2003 Kirby Air Ride
Sample Library Hollywood Edge The Premiere Edition 1 1996 Jun Ishikawa Kirby Super Star, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Sample Library Native Instruments Abbey Road 60s Drummer 2018 Yuuta Ogasawara Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Sample Library Native Instruments Discover Series: Balinese Gamelan 2018 Jun Ishikawa, Yuuta Ogasawara, Yuki Shimooka Kirby Star Allies, Kirby Fighters 2
Sample Library Native Instruments Kontakt Factory Library 2010 Hirokazu Ando, Yuuta Ogasawara, Yuki Shimooka Kirby's Epic Yarn, Team Kirby Clash Deluxe,Kirby Star Allies, Kirby Fighters 2
Sample Library Native Instruments SESSION GUITARIST: PICKED ACOUSTIC 2019 Yuuta Ogasawara The Sound of Kirby Café 2
Sample Library Sampleheads Whole Lotta Country 2001 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Air Ride, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Sample Library Sound Ideas The General Series 6000 2000 Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
Sample Library Ueberschall Drum 'N' Bass Resonance 2000 Jun Ishikawa Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby: Squeak Squad
Sample Library Vienna Symphonic Library Special Edition Volume 1[6][7] 2009 Hirokazu Ando, Yuuta Ogasawara, Yuki Shimooka Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Sound Track, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software AudioNerdz Delay Lama 2003 Jun Ishikawa Kirby Air Ride ("Air Ride: Machine Passage")
Software e-instruments Session Horns Pro 2019 Yuuta Ogasawara, Yuki Shimooka Kirby Fighters 2, The Sound of Kirby Café 2, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Software IK Multimedia MODO DRUM SE 2019 Hirokazu Ando The Sound of Kirby Café 2, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Software IK Multimedia SampleTank XL[2] 2001 Hirokazu Ando Kirby Air Ride, Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
Software IK Multimedia SampleTank 2 XL[2] ca. 2005 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby for Nintendo GameCube, Kirby Super Star Ultra
Software IK Multimedia SampleTank 3[2] 2016 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software IK Multimedia SampleTank 4 2022 Jun Ishikawa Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Software IK Multimedia Sonik Synth 2 2011 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot
Software KORG M1 Legacy Collection 2016 Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Planet Robobot
Software MAGIX SOUND FORGE Pro 12 Suite[8] 2022 Yuuta Ogasawara, Yuki Shimooka Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Software Modartt PianoTeq 6 2022 Jun Ishikawa Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Software Native Instruments Absynth 2011 Hirokazu Ando Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Software Native Instruments FM8 2016 Hirokazu Ando Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies
Software Native Instruments Kontakt 5 2016 Hirokazu Ando, Yuuta Ogasawara Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Native Instruments Massive 2016 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Native Instruments Massive X 2022 Hirokazu Ando Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Steinberg Groove Agent One 2011 Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Software Steinberg Groove Agent SE[9] 2016 Hirokazu Ando Kirby: Planet Robobot
Software Steinberg HALion 3 2005 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Canvas Curse, Kirby's Return to Dream Land
Software Steinberg HALionOne[10] 2009 Jun Ishikawa Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Sound Track, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Software Steinberg HALion Sonic 2[2] 2016 Jun Ishikawa Kirby: Planet Robobot
Software Steinberg HALion Sonic SE[9] 2016 Hirokazu Ando, Jun Ishikawa, Yuki Shimooka Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Steinberg HALion Symphonic Orchestra 2011 Jun Ishikawa Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby Star Allies
Software Steinberg LoopMash[9] (unknown) Hirokazu Ando
Software Steinberg Padshop[9] (unknown) Hirokazu Ando
Software Steinberg Retrologue[9] (unknown) Hirokazu Ando
Software Synthogy Ivory[11] 2010 Hirokazu Ando Kirby's Epic Yarn, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby: Planet Robobot, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Bundle Arturia Analog Lab V 2022 Jun Ishikawa Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Software Bundle Native Instruments KOMPLETE 12 Select[4] (unknown) Yuki Shimooka
Tokyo Office  
Type Brand Product Since Known User(s) Relevant Usage
DAW Apple Logic Pro X[12][13] 2017 Megumi Ohara, Shogo Sakai Kirby Battle Royale
Hardware Ensoniq Unknown[14] 2003 Shogo Sakai Kirby Air Ride, Kirby Mass Attack
Hardware Roland Fantom-XR[12] 2006 Megumi Ohara, Shogo Sakai Kirby Mass Attack, The Sound of Kirby Café, The Sound of Kirby Café 2, Kirby's Dream Buffet
Hardware Roland SOUND Canvas SK-88 Pro[15] 2006 Shogo Sakai Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Hardware Yamaha MOTIF-RACK ES[12][16] 2011 Megumi Ohara, Shogo Sakai Kirby Mass Attack
Sample Library Native Instruments Kontakt Factory Library 2017 Megumi Ohara Kirby Battle Royale, The Sound of Kirby Café 2
Software Native Instruments Kontakt 5 2017 Megumi Ohara Kirby Battle Royale

Noteworthy sound samples[edit]

The most well-known sound samples in the Kirby series come from Roland keyboards. These samples were first utilized in Kirby's Dream Course, but entered their most iconic form in Kirby Super Star. Many of these instruments were used through the '90s and beyond into the 2000s in games like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, and Kirby: Squeak Squad. The last game to use these instruments exclusively was Kirby's Return to Dream Land, but they still appear in newer games. The "retro" samples used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land and subsequent games are directly taken from the SNES, N64, GBA, and DS games; they weren't re-recorded from their original hardware.

Not all sounds are directly recorded from factory sound module presets though; Jun Ishikawa is known to heavily edit presets and program his own synths occasionally (an example of this would be the analog "quack" and bass synths used since Kirby's Dream Land 3 up until the DS games), and many composers play live instruments on their tracks. Hirokazu Ando plays ukulele, bass, and melodica; Shogo Sakai plays guitar, and even sampled his own playing for sequence-based games like Mother 3 and Kirby Mass Attack; Megumi Ohara plays flute; Yuuta Ogasawara plays drums and guitar. Jun Ishikawa also sampled guitar feedback for "Studying the Power Plant" using an electric guitar and his own reading glasses.

Sound samples recorded from HAL's sound equipment have been utilized by other composers, as well. HAL and Dice co-developed the game Vegas Stakes, and several classic HAL Laboratory sound samples were used in that game, but the story doesn't end there: Othello World, a game only developed by Dice (no involvement from HAL), also uses many samples from HAL (that were also used in Kirby games), which were most likely taken from their Vegas Stakes development branch. As another example, due to HAL co-developing Kirby & The Amazing Mirror alongside Dimps and Flagship, numerous samples from that game ended up in games developed by Dimps that had no involvement with HAL — such as Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure, which uses many Kirby samples (even ones that were originally lifted from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards).

HAL Laboratory composers didn't rely completely on their own samples either; when the SNES came out, Nintendo provided a Software Development Kit (SDK) to developers. In this kit there was a collection of sound samples recorded by in-house Nintendo composers for other composers and sound programmers to use, thus many SNES games (especially early ones) from different companies used them. Hal's Hole in One Golf relied completely on these samples. Alcahest and Kirby Super Star's string hit sample (used in Arena Showdown in the latter) comes from this SDK, and it can also be heard in the SNES port of SimCity, in Mario Paint and in the SNES port of Gradius III. As another example, the bongo used in Kirby's Dream Land 3's Cast Montage song also comes from it and is also heard in EarthBound and Terranigma.

Classic Era[edit]

"Classic Era" refers to games that used sound samples and sequenced music stored in their files, a few of these samples have become famous in popular media and among the video game music scene for providing the characteristic "Kirby sound palette":

Jun Ishikawa - Bass Waveform


This waveform was made by Jun Ishikawa himself, which he referred to as "two piles" since that's what it looks like.[2] It was used in most Game Boy Kirby games. While not a sample by itself, the waveform was sampled and used in Kirby Super Star and Kirby's Dream Land 3. The sampled SNES version of the waveform was later used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land and in Kirby: Planet Robobot.

Roland U-220 - P-21: Syn.Vox 1 [021]


This sample is commonly called SARARR or ARR1, and it's as old as 1979, originating in the Fairlight CMI factory library and then being borrowed by Roland. It's notable for being heavily used by Jun Ishikawa in almost every Kirby game he has composed for (with its first usage actually being in Alcahest). This sample is a staple of '80s music and was really popular among musicians. A few common examples of it in pop culture are Jean-Michel Jarre's "Zoolook", Tears For Fears's "Shout", and Art of Noise's "Moments in Love".
An example of the Kirby sample being used in popular media would be in Kero Kero Bonito's "Flamingo".

Roland D-20 - I-A53: Pan Pipes


This panflute preset was edited by Jun Ishikawa to remove the pitch envelope at the beginning, and he commonly used it in the 90s, starting with Arcana and lastly in Kirby's Dream Land 3. This one is also famous (more specifically, the PCM sample at the beginning is, as the rest is synthesized) in pop culture, as it was also part of the Fairlight CMI factory library, with its original name being "SWANEE" (although Roland calls it "Steamer"). A common and noticeable example of it in pop culture would be its usage in the Rugrats theme song.

Roland D-20 - P-51: UserPattern


This percussion kit was prominently used by HAL in the NES games they developed in the 90s, noticeably Adventures of Lolo III, Uchuu Keibitai SDF, New Ghostbusters II, and most importantly, Kirby's Adventure. It was used one last time in Arcana.

Roland SN-U110-10 Rock Drums - 10-002 ELEC DRUMS


Another percussion kit. This is probably the most well known one, as it's the source for the many percussion sounds used in Kirby games since the '90s. The TR-like electric snare sample was used for the first time in Vegas Stakes, but the whole percussion kit was used heavily on the SNES version of Wario's Woods's soundtrack, due to Tadashi Ikegami and Hiroaki Suga composing and arranging it.

Roland U-220 - P-41: Fantasia [041]


Another very famous sound. Originating in Roland's D-50 synthesizer, this sound became another staple of '80s and early '90s music, and numerous other sound companies tried to imitate it. Jun Ishikawa used this sound for the first time in "Milky Way Wishes", and is the only usage it was given in Kirby Super Star. Nonetheless, it was heavily used throughout Kirby's Dream Land 3's soundtrack. It was re-recorded and used again in the series' GBA and DS games. The SNES version of the sample made one last appearance in the Kirby's Return to Dream Land soundtrack.

Ueberschall Drum 'n' Bass Resonance - 4indoorfloor


Ueberschall Drum 'n' Bass Resonance - Speedomat


Drum loops used in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, coming from a drum 'n' bass sample CD called Drum 'n' Bass Resonance by Ueberschall. While not used often, they are notable for providing the game's songs with a very distinctive sound palette compared to the rest of the series. The first is a 180 BPM loop that comes from track 30, "4indoorfloor"; this is used in "Boss" and "Miracle Matter", with the latter also using it at half speed. The second is a 165 BPM loop that comes from track 64, "Speedomat"; this is used in "Heading for 0²".

Roland D-20 - I-A23: Celesta 1


This preset was used heavily in all SNES Kirby games composed by Jun Ishikawa. A remarkable use of it would be the background chords of Ripple Field: Ocean Waves.
An example of the Kirby sample being used in popular media would be in Snail's House's "My Valentine".

Roland SN-U110-02 Latin and F.X. Percussions - 02-034 ORCH HIT


This orchestra hit was used in Boarding the Halberd, Havoc Aboard the Halberd, throughout the Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards soundtrack and, most famously, in Masked Dedede's Theme, including its Kirby: Triple Deluxe, Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Kirby 30th Anniversary Music Festival renditions. As another interesting note, this sample was also commonly used as a sound effect in some 90s anime.

Modern Era[edit]

"Modern Era" refers to games that use streamed music instead of sequence files:

Whole Lotta Country - MANDOLIN TREMOLOS


This preset comes from the Whole Lotta Country sample library by Sampleheads and has been used since Super Smash Bros. Melee, with its first usage in the Kirby series being in Kirby Air Ride. Only three presets have been used from this library, and this is by far the most used one, appearing in almost every Kirby game since Kirby Air Ride.

Synthogy - Ivory


Ivory is a highly advanced and realistic grand piano sound library. It was first used in the Kirby series in 2010's Kirby's Epic Yarn, where both Tomoya Tomita and Hirokazu Ando used it.[11] Ivory has since become a signature part of Ando's composition style in modern Kirby games, thanks to his focus on acoustic, piano-focused pieces. Ando himself does not play piano, and instead programs the piano pieces heard in his music.[17]

Suzuki - Andes 25F


Suzuki - Melodion


The Suzuki Andes 25F and Suzuki Melodion are both melodicas, a type of aerophone. A melodica resembles a small keyboard, but is played by blowing into an air pipe attached to it while pressing the keys. The Andes 25F is smaller and has a sound resembling a recorder, while the Melodion is slightly bigger and has a sound resembling a harmonica. Melodicas became popular in Japanese indie music in the 90s and 2000s due to their quirky acoustic sound. They were first used by Hirokazu Ando on the "Stage Medley" track on the Kirby Ultra Super Deluxe Original Soundtrack in 2009, and have appeared in most of his work for the Kirby series since then.

Hirokazu Ando playing "Green Greens" on his Andes 25F. This video comes from the Iwata Asks interview about Kirby's Epic Yarn.
Ricoh - 2A03


The Ricoh 2A03 is the microprocessor used in the Nintendo Entertainment System game console. What makes this remarkable is that the 8-bit waveforms (pulse, triangle, noise) used in Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and Kirby: Planet Robobot were sampled from a real NES, no VSTs were used. [18]

Trivia[edit]

  • The Vienna Symphonic Library is the only sample library officially credited for its use in Kirby soundtracks, usually appearing within the booklets of soundtrack releases. This is because it used to be mandatory to do so with its commercial license. Commercial products using the library had to include a copyright notice indicating "orchestral samples in this recording from the Vienna Symphonic Library".
  • Jun Ishikawa bought his first synthesizer, a Roland SH-2, with his allowance as a student.[2]
  • Hirokazu Ando uses colored fretboard markers on his bass, with each color representing a note: C = Red, D = Light Grey, E = Yellow, F = Green, G = Blue, A = Dark Grey, B = White.[1]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References