June 24, 2021

The fan who took the reins at a JRPG powerhouse

There are beloved boutique Japanese studios, and then there's Falcom; a true grandee about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the company traces its beginnings back to a hobbyist shop selling PCs and Apple IIIs as well as the curious games people were coding for them, before turning to making those games themselves. The studio has stayed purposefully modest ever since, still employing just over 60 people as it continues doing what it does best: making RPGs rich in character and story, with vast arcs that can span multiple games.

Fans of Falcom are a dedicated bunch, then - like Toshihiro Kondo, for example, who took over the reins from founder Masayuki Kato in 2007. Since then, there's been a gentle push towards the west that's led to new audiences discovering the likes of Ys, the brilliantly breezy action RPG, and the ongoing Legend of Heroes series and its offshoots - a series that rivals the likes of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in longevity.

As Falcom's 40th anniversary beckons, we sat down with Mr. Kondo to discover how he went from being a superfan to heading up the company - and how Falcom are endeavouring to find new fans along the way.

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