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Kirby support developer Vanpool has shut down

Before its sudden closure, Vanpool's final game was the recent Nintendo Switch remake of Kirby's Return to Dream Land.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

May 31, 2023

1 Min Read
Cover art for Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, featuring Kirby and other franchise characters.

Japanese developer Vanpool announced that it's shutting down. As of today, May 31, the studio behind the Dillon's Rolling Western series is no longer operating, though a reason for the closure was not given. 

"We have decided to dissolve the company due to various reasons, after having continued game development thanks to your kind support," reads the developer's translated post. "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the patronage we have received and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

Founded in 1999, Vanpool's first two games were a pair of Japan-exclusive titles for the PlayStation 2, Endonesia in 2001, and Coloball 2002 the following year. Starting with 2003's Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the Tokyo-based studio made games primarily for Nintendo systems such as the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo Switch.

A majority of the studio's work was for one part of a specific game, such as the audio for Cing and Town Factory's Little King's Story. Other titles were made solely by Vanpool, like the 2012 3DS game Dillon's Rolling Western, and the its follow-ups, Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger, and Dillon's Dead-Heat Breakers

Though it wasn't owned by Nintendo, the publisher was keen to let Vanpool create spinoff titles for some of its key franchises. Vanpool made a number of Nintendo DS games starring Tingle from the Legend of Zelda series, and worked with Skip Ltd. on the 2015 game Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash.

After 2012, Vanpool had a more direct role as co-developer for several Nintendo titles. It handled the direction and script for Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and working with HAL Laboratory to co-create multiple games in the Kirby series, including 2022's Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Vanpool's final game was Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, which released this past February for the Switch.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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