HAL Labs has been a regular fixture of NES Works nearly from the beginning thanks to their valuable behind-the-scenes contributions to games like Pinball, Golf, and Balloon Fight. And we saw a few self-published HAL titles back in 1988, though those amounted to simple ports of golden age arcade machines. Here, with Adventures of Lolo, we finally have a proper top-to-bottom self-published HAL original… and it’s pretty great.

You could be unkind and reduce Adventures of Lolo down to “Soukoban, but…,” though that misses out on the fact that the “but…” is what sets this game apart. With real-time action and 50 stages of devastatingly crafted box-pushing puzzles beset by a variety of monsters cleverly designed and placed to both hinder and help protagonist Lolo (but mostly hinder), this is the first glimpse we’ve had of the fact that HAL could design good games rather than simply help others program them.

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