Nihon Falcom

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One of the oldest game publishers in the world... and this is probably the first you've seen of this logo!

Nihon Falcom is one of Japan's oldest and most venerable video game development and publication houses, having begun business in 1981 selling Apple II hardware and software, and released their first game, Galactic Wars, in 1982 on the PC-88, with their first truly significant release being Dragon Slayer two years later, that being perhaps the very first Action RPG... and you've probably never heard of them. They are probably best known outside of Japan for creating the Ys Action RPG series and giving its games catchy soundtracks courtesy of the company's internal band, "JDK Sound Team", which Yuzo Koshiro was a part of. In Japan they have a number of other famous franchises, most notably the Legend of Heroes franchise, especially its relatively recent Trails in The Sky series.

Unlike other developer-publishers of its pedigree and generation (particularly Square and Enix), Falcom never established an overseas subsidiary... and as a result, their overseas releases have been extremely scattershot and spread among a legion of publishers, from Nintendo to Broderbund to Sega to NEC to Working Designs to American Sammy to Hudson Soft to Namco Bandai to Sierra Entertainment to Infocom to Atlus. (Falcom even helped found "Kyodai Software Marketing" in 1988 in an attempt to self-publish on American PCs, but that operation folded after just releasing Ys 1.) The end result was very little consistency in release schedule or quality and style of translation, the Falcom name often not appearing on their own products (or at best tangentially appearing) leading to no brand recognition, general neglect of Falcom's strongest platform (the PC), and some of Falcom's best games taking years to cross the Pacific, especially in the latter part of The Nineties and into The Noughties (with some still in No Export for You limbo as of this writing) and with some games getting absolutely shameful treatments (the "Gagharv trilogy", Legend of Heroes III-V, being the most infamous disaster and one which nearly killed the chance for Trails in The Sky to cross the Pacific). Recently, Falcom formed a partnership with XSEED Games to bring a number of games to North America, ensuring that a more regular release pipeline for their games is maintained.

These days, Falcom's greatest focus is on their "Kiseki" or "Trails" franchise, the first game of which finally came to North America in March of 2011. To date, five Trails games have been released in Japan. The company remains well-respected for generally solid gameplay, great writing in its Trails games, and incredible music in basically every game it releases; JDK Band is so famous it releases its own CDs as side projects, and those constitute a not-insignificant portion of Falcom's income. While still not extremely well-known in the West, recent releases like Ys: Oath in Felghana have raised the company's profile significantly due to warm reception and Trails could cement their place in the relative mainstream.

You can find most of their musical works on this YouTube channel. As of January 11th, 2012, they've also begun to put their soundtracks up on the western portions of the iTunes store! As of this edit, only the recent "Crossbell" Kiseki games and Ys vs. Trails have their soundtracks up, but Falcom has promised that more is coming.

Games developed or licensed by Falcom[1]:

  • Asteka
  • Brandish & Brandish: The Dark Revenant
    • Brandish 2: Planet Buster
    • Brandish 3: Spirit of Blacan
    • Brandish 4 & Brandish VT
  • Dinosaur[2]
    • Dinosaur Resurrection
  • Dragon Slayer
    • Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu
      • Faxanadu
      • Dragon Slayer VIII: Legend of Xanadu
      • Legend of Xanadu II
      • Xanadu Next
    • Dragon Slayer III: Romancia
    • Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family (Legacy of the Wizard internationally)
    • Dragon Slayer V: Sorcerian
      • Sorcerian Forever
    • Dragon Slayer VI: Legend Of Heroes
      • Dragon Slayer: Legend of Heroes II
      • Legend of Heroes III: The White Witch (Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch internationally, first to drop the DS branding)
      • Legend of Heroes IV: A Tear of Vermillion
      • Legend of Heroes V: A Cagesong of the Ocean
      • Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki FC (Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky internationally)
        • Legend of Heroes VI-2: Sora no Kiseki SC
        • Legend of Heroes VI-3: Sora no Kiseki The 3rd
      • Legend of Heroes VII: Zero no Kiseki
      • Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki
    • Dragon Slayer VII: Lord Monarch
  • Gurumin
  • Popful Mail
  • Star Trader
  • Vantage Master
    • VM Japan
    • Vantage Master Portable
  • Ys
    • Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished: Omen
    • Ys II: Anicent Ys Vanished: The Final Chapter
      • Further collected into various packages such as Ys Eternal, Ys Complete and Ys Chronicles
    • Ys III: Wanderers From Ys
      • Remade as Ys: The Oath in Felghana
    • Ys IV: Mask of the Sun/The Dawn of Ys
      • Being remade Felghana-style as Ys: Celceta, The Sea Of Trees
    • Ys V: Kefin, Lost City of Sand
    • Ys VI: The Ark of Naphistim
    • Ys Origin
    • Ys SEVEN
  • Ys vs. Sora no Kiseki: Alternative Saga
  • Zwei!!
    • Zwei 2
  1. omits a number of their pre-Dragon Slayer early-80s releases, as many of these were never carried forward onto newer platforms and, well, Falcom would rather forget some of them even happened (Private Stripper, anyone?)
  2. A game that, helpfully, doesn't actually feature any dinosaurs