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Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game company who primarily develop role-playing video games, most notably in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today.[1] 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 as a whole.[1][2][3]

Nihon Falcom
Native name
Kabushiki gaisha Nihon Farukomu
Traded asTYO: 3723
IndustryVideo games
FoundedMarch 1981; 38 years ago (1981-03)
HeadquartersTachikawa, Japan
Key people
  • Founder
  • Masayuki Kato
  • President
  • Toshihiro Kondo



Company president Toshihiro Kondo in 2014

Falcom was one of the three most prominent and influential Japanese role-playing video game developers in the 1980s, alongside Enix and Square,[4][3] both of which were influenced by Falcom.[3][5] They are credited with laying the foundations for the Japanese role-playing game industry.[3]

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.[6]

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.[2] Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu (1985) had more than 400,000 copies sold,[7] making it the best-selling PC game up until that time.[8]

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.[9] 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.[3][1] 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.[10]

Falcom was also a pioneer in video game music, with their early soundtracks mostly composed by chiptune musicians Yuzo Koshiro and Mieko Ishikawa.[10][11][11][12] 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.[10] Falcom's Ys soundtracks in particular are considered some of the most influential role-playing game scores of all time.[13]


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
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
The Threat of North PC-6001
Escape from Twilight Zone FM-7
Dragon Slayer PC-8801
1985 Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu X1
1986 Xanadu Scenario II PC-8801
Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia X1
Tombs & Treasure PC-8801
1987 Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished PC-8801
Legacy of the Wizard MSX 2
Sorcerian PC-8801
1988 Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter
1989 Star Trader
Ys III: Wanderers from Ys
Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes
1990 Dinosaur
1991 Lord Monarch PC-9801
Popful Mail PC-8801
1992 Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II
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
Popful Mail Super Famicom
Brandish 3: Spirit of Balcan PC-9801
1995 Revival Xanadu
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
2002 VM Japan
Dinosaur Resurrection
2003 Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim Windows, PlayStation 2, mobile, PlayStation Portable
2004 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure Windows, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS
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, PlayStation Vita
Ys Origin Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
2007 The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd Windows, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
2008 Vantage Master Portable PlayStation Portable
Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection Windows
2009 Brandish: The Dark Revenant PlayStation Portable
Ys I & II Chronicles PlayStation Portable, Windows
Ys Seven
2010 Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga PlayStation Portable
The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki
2011 The Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki
2012 Nayuta no Kiseki
Ys: Memories of Celceta PlayStation Vita, Windows
2013 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows, PlayStation 4
2014 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
2015 Tokyo Xanadu PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Windows
2016 Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Windows, Nintendo Switch
2017 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III PlayStation 4
2018 The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV[14]
2019 Ys IX: Monstrum Nox[15]


  1. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b Bailey, Kat (May 18, 2010). "Hack and Slash: What Makes a Good Action RPG?". Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e 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.)
  4. ^ Massey, Tom. "Chronicles of Ys: A Series Retrospective". Gamer Network.
  5. ^ John Harris (July 2, 2009). "Game Design Essentials: 20 RPGs - Dragon Slayer". Gamasutra. p. 13. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  6. ^ Sam Derboo (June 2, 2013), Dark Age of JRPGs (7): Panorama Toh ぱのらま島 - PC-88 (1983), Hardcore Gaming 101
  7. ^ "Xanadu Next home page". Retrieved September 8, 2008. (Translation)
  8. ^ Hendricks, Fayyaad (December 22, 2011). "A complete history of role-playing videogames: Part 2". EL33TONLINE. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  9. ^ Massey, Tom. "Inside Ys: Nihon Falcom Interview". Gamer Network.
  10. ^ 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.)
  11. ^ a b Kalata, Kurt (February 2014). "Ys". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Ryan Mattich. "Falcom Classics II". RPGFan. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  13. ^ Chris Greening & Don Kotowski (February 2011). "Interview with Yuzo Koshiro". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  14. ^ Stenbuck, Kite. "Trails of Cold Steel IV will be released in Japan on September 27". RPG Site. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  15. ^ Romano, Sal. "Ys IX: Monstrum Nox announced for PS4". Gematsu. Retrieved December 19, 2018.

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