A variant of the Nihon Falcom logo
|Kabushiki gaisha Nihon Farukomu|
|Traded as||TYO: 3723|
Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game developer founded in 1981. Falcom has played a definite role in the growth and development of the Japanese personal computer software industry. The company released one of the first Japanese role-playing video games in 1983 and followed with real-time action and adventure games as well as games with fully developed soundtracks. They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre and the Japanese role-playing game industry, and remain one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today.
Falcom was one of the three most prominent and influential Japanese role-playing video game developers in the 1980s, alongside Enix and Square, both of which were influenced by Falcom. They are credited with laying the foundations for the Japanese role-playing game industry.
Falcom's first role-playing game was Panorama Toh (Panorama Island), released for the NEC PC-88 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.
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. Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu (1985) had more than 400,000 copies sold, making it the best-selling PC game up until that time.
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. 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. Nevertheless, in terms of the number of game releases, Falcom's flagship Ys series is second only to Final Fantasy as the largest Eastern role-playing game franchise, as of 2011.
Falcom was also a pioneer in video game music, with their early soundtracks mostly composed by chiptune musicians Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa, and some arranged by Ryo Yonemitsu. They were the first company to produce game music CDs, the first to apply vocals to game music, and one of the very first to have their own sound team composed of professional musicians dedicated to games, the Falcom Sound Team jdk. Falcom's Ys soundtracks in particular are considered some of the finest and most influential role-playing game scores of all time.
- Bailey, Kat (May 18, 2010). "Hack and Slash: What Makes a Good Action RPG?". 1UP.com. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
- Szczepaniak, John (July 7, 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 . Retrieved September 7, 2011. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 6, 2011.)
- Gifford, Kevin (September 7, 2011). "The Trail of Nihon Falcom: The president of Japan's oldest existing RPG maker speaks". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
- Massey, Tom. "Chronicles of Ys: A Series Retrospective". eurogamer.net. Gamer Network.
- John Harris (July 2, 2009). "Game Design Essentials: 20 RPGs - Dragon Slayer". Gamasutra. p. 13. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Sam Derboo (June 2, 2013), Dark Age of JRPGs (7): Panorama Toh ぱのらま島 - PC-88 (1983), Hardcore Gaming 101
- "Xanadu Next home page". Retrieved September 8, 2008. (Translation)
- Hendricks, Fayyaad (December 22, 2011). "A complete history of role-playing videogames: Part 2". EL33TONLINE. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
- Massey, Tom. "Inside Ys: Nihon Falcom Interview". eurogamer.net. Gamer Network.
- Szczepaniak, John (July 7, 2011). "Falcom: Legacy of Ys". GamesTM (111): 152–159 . Retrieved September 8, 2011. (cf. Szczepaniak, John (July 8, 2011). "History of Ys interviews". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 8, 2011.)
- Kalata, Kurt (February 2014). "Ys". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- Ryan Mattich. "Falcom Classics II". RPGFan. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- Chris Greening & Don Kotowski (February 2011). "Interview with Yuzo Koshiro". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
- Stenbuck, Kite. "Trails of Cold Steel IV will be released in Japan on September 27". RPG Site. Retrieved 25 May 2018.