During Anime Expo 2019, Nihon Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo shared how he went from a Falcom fan to the president of the company, and the journey was quite something, to say the least.
With an absolute passion for games, he knew right when he was in 2nd grade that he wanted to be the owner of an arcade, and during the panel, he joked that he had “surpassed that dream.” Similar to many of us JRPG fans, he grew up playing Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games. However, he didn’t know of Falcom and the company’s games, more specifically, the Ys series until middle school, as he mentioned, “When I was in middle school, one of my friends told me of the Ys series, and to be honest, I didn’t know about it at the time — but then, I played Ys I (Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished) and Ys II (Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter) on the PC-8801 and began to fell in love with the series.”
Kondo-san wouldn’t play another Falcom game until college, when he discovered The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch at a local game store. The problem is, he didn’t have the platform (the NEC PC-9801) to play the game on, and he didn’t have enough money to buy that specific platform (it was ¥298,000/$2,747.43 USD when it first released). After the title was released on other platforms, however, he was finally able to play the game. This was a major turning point for Kondo-san as during the panel, he mentioned, “The game moved me to complete tears” and shared that he would actually copy the text in the game so he could read the text again whenever he wanted.
You might think that because of this, Kondo-san was studying something writing-related during college. Thing is, he was studying something much, much different, accounting and finance. Despite this, he discovered a seminar that focused on web development, in which he created a website specifically dedicated to The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch.
The website basically served as what we now know as a wiki page or Fandom page due to the website being an in-depth guide of the game. That said, Kondo-san was worried that Falcom wouldn’t approve of the site, and actually, because of one specific piece information he posted, Falcom reached out to him to request that the info would be removed immediately. It’s from here that Kondo-san actually ended up meeting with the president of Falcom at the time who then suggested that Kondo-san should work at Falcom.
Given what he studied, Kondo-san first was in Falcom’s accounting department. However, that team, in particular, knew that he didn’t quite fit in, and so he switched over to working on Falcom’s server and was responsible for managing Falcom’s website. But then, one day, the past president of the company, now chairman, asked Kondo-san to work on the Moonlight Witch port to Windows and they asked him to work on all the visuals and a bit of scenario writing.
Mostly in Falcom, Kondo-san mentioned during the panel that, “There are people that are all self-taught and masters of their craft — there aren’t any coaches so to speak.” Kondo-san studied hard and was able to do the graphics and the additional scenario for Moonlight Witch (even though he had only had a week to write it.)
The first project that Kondo-san completely managed was The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (in Japan, the title is known as Sora no Kiseki) and he was happy to take the project on as he “wanted to make a Legend of Heroes game.” Development did take longer than expected, though. At the 3-year mark for the game’s development, he met with the Falcom president at the time who asked, “How much of it [the game] is done?” to which Kondo-san replied, “50 percent” and after that, the president told him to release the game in its current state. Since Kondo-San knew that the game wasn’t going to be finished, he quickly threw in a preview of the next game in the series, regardless of people in the company that believed that “he shouldn’t think that he can make a second game,” according to Kondo-san.
Thankfully, the first game was well received (despite not being a top seller), and from there, Kondo-san was able to continue making great games. Given that he had a good understanding of how a company ran, due to his experience in both the development side and the more business side of games, Kondo-san became president of Falcom in 2007.
And so, that’s the somewhat-brief, unique but wonderful journey of how Kondo-san went from a fan of Falcom to being the president of the company! Want to know more? We highly recommend checking out our interview with him to get a better idea of his thoughts on Falcom’s past, present, and future.
Falcom, NIS America, and Kondo-san’s upcoming western release title, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III, is set to launch on PlayStation 4 on September 24 in North America, and September 27 in Europe.
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