The game was originally developed by Sphere, Inc. for the Macintosh and PC in 1987. Rowan Software ported Falcon for Spectrum HoloByte to the Atari ST in 1988 and Amiga in 1989, and the version for the CDTV was also published by Spectrum HoloByteand Mirrorsoft in 1992.
In the original Falcon, the players have their choice of flying one of 12 missions - with awards for flying missions at higher skill levels. There is a choice of different ground attack and air-to-air weapons, although these are also limited by several factors. For dogfighting, AIM-9J missiles are not as reliable as newer AIM-9L missiles - and are useless for head-on attack - but were typically the only missiles available. Because they are guided, AGM-65 missiles are easier to use than "iron dumb bombs" like the Mk 84, but ineffective against strengthened targets. An ECM pod provides defense against enemy missiles, but occupies an external hardpoint that can be used for additional weapons or fuel. The enemy occupies the western areas of the game's playable map - itself a large square divided into 9 smaller squares. Enemy targets were fixed sites on the ground. For defense, the unnamed enemy was limited to MiG-21 interceptors, and ground-launched missiles - either the SA-2s, which are launched from identified and fixed sites on the ground, or the SA-7s, which could be fired from portable launchers and can therefore appear anywhere.