This was apparently the entirety of the development hardware Masahiro Sakurai used to start programming Kirby’s Dream Land. (credit: Source Gaming / Famitsu)
Any programmer of a certain age likely has a horror story about some rinky-dink coding and workflow environment that forced them to hack together a working app under extreme hardware and software constraints.
Still, we’re pretty sure none of those stories can beat the keyboard-free coding environment that Masahiro Sakurai apparently used to create the first Kirby’s Dream Land.
The tidbit comes from a talk Sakurai gave ahead of a Japanese orchestral performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original Game Boy release of Kirby’s Dream Land in 1992.

As reported by Game Watch (and wonderfully translated by the Patreon-supported Source Gaming), Sakurai recalled how HAL Laboratory was using a Twin Famicom as a development kit at the time.

Trying to program on the hardware, which combined a cartridge-based Famicom and the disk-based Famicom Disk System, was “like using a lunchbox to make lunch,” Sakurai said.
As if the limited power wasn’t bad enough, Sakurai revealed that the Twin Famicom testbed they were using “didn’t even have keyboard support, meaning values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard.” Those kinds of visual programming languages may be fashionable now, but having a physical keyboard to type in values or edit instruction would have probably still been welcome back in the early ’90s.
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