Falco Lombardi, known as Falco Rambaldi (ファルコ・ランバルディ, Faruko Ranbarudi) in Japan, is an anthropomorphic falcon or pheasant character from the Star Fox series of video games. He was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and designed by Takaya Imamura. Falco acts as the wingman and friend of title character Fox McCloud for the majority of the series.
Falco first appeared in the 1993 video game Star Fox. Since then, he has appeared in multiple Star Fox games. A variety of voice actors lend their voice to the character in the English language releases, but Hisao Egawa portrays Falco in all Japanese language releases. Besides the Star Fox games, Falco has starred in his own manga, and also appeared as a playable character in two Super Smash Bros. titles.
Falco was based on the model designer of the original Star Fox game. Reception to the character has been mixed, with popularity among fans high. Falco has been mainly criticized for his appearance and contentious attitude, but praised for being far less annoying than other characters in the series. Reaction to his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl has been similarly mixed, with many reviewers objecting to his moveset being cloned from Fox, citing it as an example of low effort on the part of the developers.
Falco resembles some variety of falcon, and his English name comes from the name of the falcon genus. "Falco" is the only English name for the original Star Fox Team that Dylan Culbert of Q-Games did not come up with. Instead, it came from 2D artist and scenario designer Takaya Imamura. He has been referred to as both a falcon and a pheasant by Nintendo. The character's surname in the Japanese versions, "Rambaldi", was taken from Carlo Rambaldi, an Italian special effects artist who worked on films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The original four members of the Star Fox Team are based on the team for the first game. Falco in particular is based on the model designer, Watanabe. At the time of Star Fox 64, Falco Lombardi was 19 years old.
Falco started as the head of a galactic gang, and possesses an uncooperative attitude, though he is devoted to the pilots he flies with. Falco is one of the most respected and skilled pilots of the Star Fox Team. His personality consists of a brash, overconfident cockiness. He is further described as "brash". Falco has incredible nerves, and can accurately predict the tide of battle.
Star Fox and Star Fox 64
Falco initially appeared in the first Star Fox game, Star Fox for the Super Nintendo. He subsequently appeared in the remake, Star Fox 64 on the Nintendo 64. In both games, he served as a member of the Star Fox Team, but a minor character nonetheless.
Falco often acts as backup for Fox in the games, spinning in to take up Fox's flank. After the defeat of Andross at the end of Star Fox 64, Falco disappears, and is not seen for a significant time.
Star Fox Adventures
Falco does not appear during the majority of Star Fox Adventures, as he could not be properly integrated into the plot in time for the game's release. Near the end of the game, however, Falco arrives to aid Fox with the final boss, and appears in the last cutscene of the game.
Star Fox: Assault
In Star Fox: Assault for the Gamecube, Falco appears as a main member of Star Fox Team once more, this time labelled an ace pilot. Unlike other characters in the game, Falco never leaves his Arwing to fight on the ground, instead providing air support.
Star Fox Command
Star Fox Command has Falco isolating himself from the rest of the team, including flying a new vehicle called the Sky Claw, a slimmer version of the Arwing. The nature of Falco's membership within the Star Fox Team changes depending upon the path the player chooses. In one ending, he joins Fox's son Marcus McCloud and forms a new Star Fox Team.
Farewell, Beloved Falco
Farewell, Beloved Falco was a manga series that detailed the eight-year gap between Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Adventures. In the manga, Falco receives a request for help from Katt Monroe, leaving the Star Fox Team. At the end of the manga, he stays with Katt Monroe, while Fox returns to the team, and stays away for a long absence.
Super Smash Bros.
Falco Lombardi made his first appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series in its second installment: Super Smash Bros. Melee as a clone of Fox McCloud. Falco returned for Super Smash Bros. Brawl as both a playable character and a trophy. While Falco's attacks are not very powerful when compared to other characters in the game, he is one of the games fastest characters, and performs his moves very quickly. He jumps higher than Fox McCloud, but uses a similar reflecting shield, blaster, and landmaster tank.
In Melee, Falco's appearance is based on his design in Star Fox 64, whereas in Brawl, it is based on his appearance in Star Fox: Assault and Star Fox Command.
Falco is a favorite among Star Fox fans, and among Nintendo fans in general. Though he could be described as "cranky", Falco gained esteem as a counterpoint to the seemingly annoying Slippy Toad and the older Peppy Hare. Dan Richman of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer remarked that Falco looks more like a pterodactyl than a falcon. UGO Networks listed Falco as one of the top twenty-three second in commands in movies, television, video games, or entertainment. They characterized him as a "dick", but the most reliable character in the Star Fox series.
The portrayal of Falco in the Super Smash Bros. series has been both praised and criticized. While IGN noted that Falco operated a bit differently than Fox in the game, and did so in a "cool black jacket", he was essentially a simple clone of the controllable Fox McCloud. IGN also cited Falco as proof that Masahiro Sakurai did not appear to care about producing original characters with unique move sets. UGO Networks called Falco a lame "purple-feathered who wears a white jacket and silver boots", but still recognizes the effectiveness of his fighting style.