Formed in March 1981 by Masayuki Kato, Nihon Falcom (日本ファルコム) is considered to be one of the oldest Japanese RPG developers, creating some of the first entries of its genre in Japan. The company initially began as a brick and mortar store located in Tachikawa, Tokyo, called Computer Land Tachikawa, which opened in July 1981 and sold Apple II computers among other products and software. The store quickly attracted programmers to the company who were frequent customers at Computer Land, such as Falcom's future star programmer Yoshio Kiya, which eventually lead to Falcom working with these regulars to develop game software. The very first title to be created this way, and that which marked Falcom's debut into game development, was Galactic Wars 1 in 1982, a sci-fi strategy game with semi-real time elements. Throughout the following decades Nihon Falcom would play a pioneering role in the growth of the early PC game industry in Japan, creating some of the most influential and best selling titles of the time including Dragon Slayer as well as Xanadu and would eventually create many classic franchises that are still continuing to this day such as Ys and The Legend of Heroes.
Unlike many game companies in the 1980's, Falcom refrained from moving fully into developing for Nintendo's Famicom or other home consoles of the era and instead continued to develop for personal computers, such as the NEC PC-88 and later Windows based PCs, almost exclusively till the mid-2000s. While a number of Falcom's past titles were ported to home consoles and portable devices, they were mostly handled by companies other than Falcom, such as Hudson, Bandai Namco and Konami. A few notable exceptions during the 90s were The Legend of Xanadu duology for the PC-Engine CD and Ys V as well as Popful Mail for the Super Famicom which were all developed by Falcom themselves. However, with the loss of their PC distributor in Japan during the early 2000s and the declining sales in the market, Falcom has since stopped all PC development and now only creates titles for console and handheld platforms.
Nihon Falcom is famous in Japan and in the West for a number of its franchises, including Ys, Brandish, Xanadu, and the Legend of Heroes (who's Trails sub-series has since become the company's most popular property). However, due to their once heavy emphasis on Japanese PC development, the company was largely unknown in the West until recently when localization companies such as XSEED, Aksys and NIS America began consistently publishing their games overseas.
- Nihon Falcom's name is actually a play off the name of Han Solo's space ship from the Star Wars films, the Millennium Falcon. The "com" was added to the end of "Falcon" since it was a popular ending suffix for Japanese computer companies at the time and "Nihon" (the Japanese word for "Japan") was added to make the title feel more complete . There is even a space ship featured on the cover of certain version's of Falcom's first game, Galactic Wars 1, that looks very similar to the Millennium Falcon.
- Falcom Official Corporate History Timeline
- Chronicles of Ys: A Series Retrospective by Tom Massey (Eurogamer).
- The Prehistory of Nihon Falcom by Kevin Gifford (1up.com).
- Ys Interview Collection translated by Shmuplations.
- Preserving Nihon Falcom’s First Game by Takeshi Kanazawa (Game Preservation Society).
- The Falcom Museum - Japanese fan site.