Nihon Falcom

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Nihon Falcom
Native name
Nihon farukomu kabushiki kaisha
Traded asTYO: 3723
IndustryVideo games
FoundedMarch 1981; 39 years ago (1981-03)
FounderMasayuki Kato
HeadquartersTachikawa, Japan
Key people
Toshihiro Kondo (President)
Number of employees
62 (2019[1])

Nihon Falcom Corporation (日本ファルコム株式会社) is a Japanese video game developer of role-playing video games, most notably the Ys, The Legend of Heroes, and Trails series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest game developers still active.[2] They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre, the Japanese role-playing game industry, and the development of the personal computer software industry in Japan overall.[2][3][4]


Company president Toshihiro Kondo in 2014

Nihon Falcom was founded by Masayuki Kato in 1981,[1] and quickly became one of the most prominent and influential Japanese role-playing video game developers, alongside Enix and Square.[5][4][6] They are credited with laying the foundations for the Japanese role-playing game industry.[4]

Falcom's first role-playing game was Panorama Toh (Panorama Island), released for the PC-8801 in 1983 and created by Yoshio Kiya, who would go on to create the Dragon Slayer and Brandish franchises. While its RPG elements were limited, lacking traditional statistical or leveling systems, the game featured real-time combat with a gun, bringing it close to the action RPG formula that Falcom would later be known for. Set on a desert island, the game's overworld is presented as a hex grid and featured a day-night cycle. There were also indigenous non-player characters (NPCs) who the player could choose to attack, have a conversation with, or give money for items, though NPCs could choose to run away with the money. In order to survive on the island, the player needs to find and consume rations, as every normal action consumes hit points. The island also has traps, which require calling for help and waiting for NPCs to help. The player could also be bit by snakes that poison and paralyze the player, requiring medicine to heal or calling for help from NPCs.[7]

Falcom eventually went on to create their flagship franchises, including the Dragon Slayer, The Legend of Heroes and Ys series. The original Dragon Slayer was responsible for setting the template for the action role-playing game genre.[3] Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu (1985) had more than 400,000 copies sold,[8] making it the best-selling PC game up until that time.[9]

While most of Falcom's games have been ported to various video game consoles of all generations, they have only developed a few non-PC video games themselves.[10] The company's decision to develop mainly for PCs rather than consoles set them apart from their main rivals, Enix and Square, but limited the company's popularity in the Western world, thus limiting their growth potential in the 1990s.[4][2] By the early 2010s, the Ys series was second only to the Final Fantasy series as the largest Japanese role-playing game franchise in terms of the overall number of game releases.[11]

Falcom was also a pioneer in video game music, with their early soundtracks mostly composed by chiptune musicians Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa.[11][12][13] They were one of the first game companies to have their own named sound team dedicated to writing scores for their games, known as the Falcom Sound Team jdk.[11] Falcom's Ys soundtracks in particular are considered some of the most influential role-playing game scores of all time.[14]


Year Game Platform(s)
1982 Galactic Wars PC-8801
1983 Super Mahjong X1
Bird Land PC-8801
Computer the Golf
Horror House
Cosmo Fighter II X1
Super Horoscope Kanji Version PC-8801
Private Stripper PC-8801, FM-7, PC-9801
SSGN Covert Cruise Special Attack Strategy FM-8
Panorama Island PC-8801
Horror House Part-II
1984 Monster House Sharp MZ
Demon's Ring PC-8801, FM-7, PC-9801
Asteka PC-8801, FM-7, PC-9801
The Threat of North PC-6001
Escape from Twilight Zone FM-7
Dragon Slayer PC-8801, FM-7, X1
1985 Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu X1, PC-8801, FM-7, PC-9800, MSX
1986 Xanadu Scenario II PC-8801, FM-7, PC-9801
Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia X1, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX
Tombs & Treasure X1, PC-8801, PC-9801, FM-7, MSX
1987 Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished PC-8801, X1, PC-9801, FM-7
Legacy of the Wizard MSX 2, MSX, Famicom
Sorcerian PC-8801, PC-9801, X1
1988 Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter PC-8801, PC-9801, FM7, X1, MSX
1989 Star Trader PC-8801, PC-9801
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2
Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes PC-9801, FM TOWNS, MSX2
1990 Dinosaur PC-8801, PC-9801, FM TOWNS
1991 Lord Monarch PC-9801, FM TOWNS
Brandish PC-9801, FM TOWNS
Popful Mail PC-8801, PC-9801, Super Famicom
1992 Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II PC-8801, PC-9801
1993 Brandish 2: Planet Buster PC-9801
1994 The Legend of Xanadu TurboGrafx-16
The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch PC-9801
Brandish 3: Spirit of Balcan
Revival Xanadu
1995 The Legend of Xanadu II PC Engine CD
Revival Xanadu II Remix PC-9801
Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand Super Famicom
1996 The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion PC-9801
Brandish VT
Lord Monarch Original Windows
1997 Lord Monarch First
Lord Monarch Pro
Sorcerian Forever
Vantage Master
1998 Ys I Eternal
Vantage Master V2
Monarch Monarch
Brandish 4
1999 The Legend of Heroes III: Song of the Ocean
2000 Ys II Eternal
Sorcerian Original
2001 Ys I & II Complete
Zwei: The Arges Adventure Windows, PlayStation Portable
2002 VM Japan Windows
Dinosaur Resurrection
2003 Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim
2004 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3
Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure Windows, PlayStation Portable
2005 Rinne Windows
Ys: The Oath in Felghana Windows, PlayStation Portable
Xanadu Next N-Gage, Windows
2006 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3
Ys Origin Windows, Nintendo Switch
2007 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3
2008 Vantage Master Portable PlayStation Portable
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection Windows
2009 Brandish: The Dark Revenant PlayStation Portable
Ys I & II Chronicles
Ys Seven
2010 Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga
The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 4
2011 The Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki
2012 Nayuta no Kiseki PlayStation Portable
Ys: Memories of Celceta PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
2013 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
2014 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
2015 Tokyo Xanadu PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
2016 Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
2017 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
2018 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV[15]
2019 Ys IX: Monstrum Nox[16]
2020 The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki[17] PlayStation 4


  1. ^ a b Wen, Alan. "Hot on the Trails of Falcom, Japan's longest-running RPG developer". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Gifford, Kevin (September 7, 2011). "The Trail of Nihon Falcom: The president of Japan's oldest existing RPG maker speaks". Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Bailey, Kat (May 18, 2010). "Hack and Slash: What Makes a Good Action RPG?". Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Szczepaniak, John (July 7, 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [153]. Retrieved September 7, 2011. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 6, 2011.)
  5. ^ Massey, Tom. "Chronicles of Ys: A Series Retrospective". Gamer Network.
  6. ^ John Harris (July 2, 2009). "Game Design Essentials: 20 RPGs - Dragon Slayer". Gamasutra. p. 13. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  7. ^ Derboo, Sam (June 2, 2013). "Dark Age of JRPGs (7): Panorama Toh ぱのらま島 - PC-88 (1983)". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  8. ^ "Xanadu Next home page" (in Japanese). Retrieved September 8, 2008. (Translation)
  9. ^ Hendricks, Fayyaad (December 22, 2011). "A complete history of role-playing videogames: Part 2". EL33TONLINE. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  10. ^ Massey, Tom. "Inside Ys: Nihon Falcom Interview". Gamer Network.
  11. ^ a b c Szczepaniak, John (July 7, 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 [154]. Retrieved September 8, 2011. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 8, 2011.)
  12. ^ Kalata, Kurt (February 2014). "Ys". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  13. ^ Ryan Mattich. "Falcom Classics II". RPGFan. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  14. ^ Chris Greening & Don Kotowski (February 2011). "Interview with Yuzo Koshiro". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  15. ^ Stenbuck, Kite (May 22, 2018). "Trails of Cold Steel IV will be released in Japan on September 27". RPG Site. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  16. ^ Romano, Sal (December 19, 2018). "Ys IX: Monstrum Nox announced for PS4". Gematsu. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  17. ^ Romano, Sal (December 18, 2019). "The Legend of Heroes: Hajimari no Kiseki announced for PS4". Gematsu. Retrieved December 18, 2019.

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