Kirby and the power of polish

In 1991, Japanese game company HAL Laboratory Inc. was 1.5 billion yen in debt and had to bet its future on one game. It was called Tinkle Popo, featuring a rotund protagonist named Popopo.

HAL Laboratory had planned to publish Tinkle Popo independently, and sold 26,000 pre-ordered copies. 

Nintendo—a HAL Laboratory client and investor—intervened; game designer Shigeru Miyamoto saw Tinkle Popo and decided that HAL Laboratory was better off working with Nintendo to publish it. 

Together, the teams worked to polish the game, and it hit the shelves a year and three months after its original release date under a new name: the protagonist was named Kirby, and the game was entitled, Kirby’s Dream Land.

There are all sorts of elements they’d polished; the game and protagonist’s names obviously, as well as the character design (Popopo’s line eyes vs. Kirby’s more skeuomorphic ones, Popopo’s bronze, pink, and red colors vs. Kirby’s pink), and many (many!) more changes in game mechanics I’m sure.

Most of the time, making something acceptable and delivering it is good enough. Sometimes, if someone makes a suggestion—or gives you an opportunity—it’s important to seriously consider putting the resources in to polish it—over and over, again. (Polish the promotion, too!) They just might be right.

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