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Creator / Falcom

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Nihon Falcom Corporation 『日本ファルコム株式会社』 is one of Japan's oldest and most venerable video game development and publication houses, having begun business in 1981 selling Apple ][ hardware and software, and released their first game, Galactic Wars, in 1982 on the PC88, with their first truly significant release being Dragon Slayer two years later, that being perhaps the very first Action RPG. 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 sound production staff: the "Falcom Sound Team jdk"(not to be confused with jdk Band - a band made of freelance musicians who provide arrangements and performances of Sound Team jdk's music for both arranged albums/soundtracks and live on stage during concerts). In Japan they have a number of other famous franchises, most notably The Legend of Heroes franchise, and especially The Legend of Heroes - Trails 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 Bandai Namco Entertainment 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 '90s 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", The Legend of Heroes III-V, being the most infamous disaster and one which nearly killed the chance for The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky to cross the Pacific). 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. However, the partnership would end in 2018 and Falcom would seek the help from NIS America instead.

These days, Falcom's greatest focus is on their "Kiseki" / "Trails" franchise, the first game of which finally came to North America in March of 2011. To date, twelve 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; both original soundtracks and arranged music albums. While still not extremely well-known in western countries, releases like Ys: The 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 all but 2 of their albums on this YouTube channel . Starting in January 11th, 2012, they also began to put their soundtracks up on the western portions of iTunes store and Amazon stores! As of this edit, they have put up albums for the majority of their games released overseas as well as all the Trails releases in Japan. As of 2018, a lot of the music is also available over Spotify, letting you enjoy the albums with some limitations if you're short on cash. Their music is also released under Falcom's Music Free Declaration Policy, meaning that so long as you bought the game and rip the music yourself (which is really trivial to do)note  , or bought the music either on CD or online, you're good to use it for your own projects, with notable restrictions being to outright pirate the music or use it in games.

Now with its own music page!

Magical Girl Alisa now has a Just for Fun page!

Games developed or licensed by Falcomnote  :

Tropes common to Falcom

  • Action RPG: If not the Ur-Example, then the earliest Trope Codifier. The Dragonslayer series was one of the first action games with an RPG system of equippable items, leveling, and stat increases.
  • Actually Four Mooks: Don't be surprised if a cute little Pom on the overworld map suddenly turns into a gang of six ready to knock out the party.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Most villains make it their goal to gain access to one of these. Odds are very high The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is located here.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Ubiquitous, to the extent that the first town in any title with even a suggestion of RPG Elements will have a nearby guild or local equivalent. Wandering creatures are always simply called monsters, and treated as a common threat that will readily drop gold and crafting items.
  • Aerith and Bob: Most characters seem to favor fairly plausible European names (usually German-inspired) with a mix of fantasy-esque names for foreign characters.
  • All in a Row: Earlier titles with party members played it straight, though newer games in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series starting with Trails of Cold Steel keep solo party members that can be swapped in and out. Sorcerian played it absurdly straight, to the point where the entire party move as one unit attacking vertically, despite how silly and illogical this looks.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: A recurring theme in Ys, the Trails series, and Tokyo Xanadu is that friendly characters and jerkasses alike are able to put aside their differences and work together effectively to survive in times of crisis. This is deconstructed with some villains like Loewe from Trails in the Sky and the main antagonists from Memories of Celceta, who intentionally start a wide-scale crisis to force humanity to improve.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Guitar riffs and fantasy action seem to go hand in hand in their games, courtesy of Falcom Sound Team jdk. The Ys games are perhaps the most famous for featuring fairly standard fantasy settings set to shredding guitars and heavy metal in the background.
  • Beef Gate: If there's a Falcom game that lets you wander around an overworld without barring your way with a Broken Bridge, expect to be slaughtered by monsters that are much stronger, faster, and more dynamic than you are and typically can't be damaged yet in the story.
  • BFS: Most often seen with supporting main characters while main heroes either wield fairly modest blades or have something else entirely. Laura and Agate from the Kiseki games are particularly standout examples.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Usually enforced with earlier titles running on very limited graphics. Modern games starting in the late 90s on PC avert it, though the gore is still quite mild.
  • Breakthrough Hit: Dragonslayer was the company's first smash success in its native Japan. The Ys series later took its place and is by far the most well known property outside Japan.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Most games with optional party members with fixed main characters can't be permanently swapped out. Averted in the Cold Steel series if there's more than three party members to choose from, there's nothing stopping you from putting the main protagonists in a back row slot.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Many games with a reasonably developed magic system imply if not state directly that magic is simply very advanced technology. That, or go for Sufficiently Analyzed Magic, occasionally blurring the distinction between the two.
  • Colon Cancer: Averted in the Western releases when they spun off The Legend of Heroes neatly into its own series after Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II, before things even got started. Still somewhat happens in the Japanese PS4 rereleases of Cold Steel thanks to the version having a subtitle and thus two colons, but it could be worse - can you imagine the title Dragon Slayer VI: The Legend of Heroes VIII: Trails of Cold Steel: - Thor's Military Academy 1204 -?
  • Company Cross References: It's not uncommon for Falcom to make references to their older games. For examples, in Trails to Zero and Azure, Adol and Feena from Ys make cameos in a Casino game.
  • Critical Hit: The Kiseki games uniquely allow for critical healing spells as well as attacks.
  • Crossover: Ys Vs. Sora no Kiseki crosses over Falcom's biggest franchises with several stages, cameos, and nods borrowed across its history. The more obscure Vantage Master features most of its early fantasy game characters and classes in a tactical RPG.
  • Curse Cut Short: Explicit swearing is very rare.
  • Cute Kitten: Mishy (Michey in Japan), the company's mascot who makes cameos in a few titles either as an actual cat or a plushy.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Games on the early PC platforms suffered from this problem with limited tile-based movement.
  • Fanservice: Rarely present. Most content that could be considered suggestive is limited to euphemistic dialogue. Dela and Maile play it straighter with semi-revealing outfits.
  • Gratuitous English: Several boss subtitles and official soundtrack titles have endearingly awkward English construction. Falcom historically has had a rather quirky grasp on the language.
  • Nintendo Hard: The PC-88/98 era in particular is difficult what with a lack of modern conveniences, limited saving, tile-based movement, small hitboxes, archaic and occasionally essoteric level design and lack of direction, and in many games the inability to save on the spot. The Ys series maintains much of the spirit while making the gameplay more inline with modern gaming without sacrificing the arcade-level brutal bosses and hard-hitting enemies.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: When the composers incorporate the occasional quire chants into boss themes, the language of choice seems to be Middle-English rather than Latin, not that you'd know on a first listen.
  • Spin-Off: As the Dragon Slayer entries made clear, The Legend of Heroes series of games are a spinoff from the Dragon Slayer games. The return of the Dragon Slayer brand with Dragon Slayer VII is set as a separate entry from the Legend of Heroes series, with the next title for the latter set for the Calvard arc.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Toshihiro Kondo started out as a fan of The Legend of Heroes, designing the first company fansite for Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch as a teenager. The company liked his work and he was recruited as a manager, where he'd eventually be given writing duties on their upcoming projects until he'd take over as head of the company in 2003.

Alternative Title(s): Nihon Falcom