Ys and The Legend of Heroes developer Nihon Falcom is a living, walking treasure of the video game world. At 36 years old, it’s one of the few holdovers from the Golden Age of Gaming back in the 1980s when Japanese companies rewrote the rulebook and gave games another three decades of life.
Capcom, Square Enix, Nintendo, Bandai Namco, SEGA… with the apparent passing of Konami, it’s a list that shows how few have survived and how many have come and gone over these thirty long years of hard knock lives.
Unlike those companies though, Nihon Falcom has never enjoyed mainstream success. Ys and The Legend of Heroes both earned widespread love among their fanbases, but this success has struggled to leak into further audiences. Despite that, the company chugs on and does what it does best, making fun JRPGs with rockin’ soundtracks and employing smart business decisions as described by President Toshiro Kondo in a recent interview with USGamer.
The secret? Don’t get too big for your britches.
There’s also not necessarily a hard and fast rule that because you entered this company for one particular role that you need to continue in that role. It’s very common for people within the company to kind of wear multiple hats and to take on different responsibilities, provided their abilities allow for it. Because they are so dedicated and interested in the games that they make, it really allows people to kind of go beyond themselves and to do lots of other different things. That probably has a lot to do with how we’ve been able to continue in spite of rising costs. We have a small amount of people, but those people do more things.
There are various merits to having a small team. One is communication. You don’t need to spend time or money doing a lot of communication because it’s much easier to get everyone on the same page. Another thing is that when you do work on a very small team like this, you know that there’s no one else to do certain things but yourselves and that creates a feeling of responsibility toward the project so you’re not leaving anything to everybody else. You’re taking on the responsibility here yourself within the team to get things done. Because we do work on things with such small teams, that kind of creates the “Falcom feeling” you might get when you play our games.
Kondo is living the dream
It’s an interesting interview in which Kondo waxes nostalgic about his favorite games, especially Legend of Heroes III, and explains his excitement about being president of a video game company he grew up idolizing. His company also faces tough choices in supporting the PlayStation 4 and dividing itself between it and its traditional platform, the PC. Give it a read if you are interested in learning more about the fascinating, continuing success of this marvel of the gaming world.
And in the meantime, be sure to check out Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana this year when it launches for the PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and PC on Sept. 12. Ys Seven also was recently confirmed to be coming to Steam sometime this summer.