It’s here! Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West is finally on store shelves—and, hopefully, in your Genji Glove-equipped hands right now.
I’ll write more about the book, my experience writing it, and why I love the genre so much in a separate post, but in the meantime I’ve gathered up a bunch of goodies below including reviews, interviews, and an exclusive excerpt exploring the history and legacy of the JRPG that launched the genre to meteoric heights in the west: Final Fantasy VII.
Thank you for all the support! Enjoy!
Interview on RPGFan’s “Random Encounter” podcast
To kick things off, I had a delightful chat with Jono and Hilary on the RPGFan podcast “Random Encounters.” This book club-style episode digs into Japanese RPGs, why I wrote such a personal book, and the impact of Pokemon on JRPG’s massive success in the west.
Review on Nerds of a Feather
I’ve been a longtime fan (and very infrequent contributor) to the Hugo Award-winning Nerds of a Feather, so it was an absolute delight to read this generous review from Joe DelFranco.
As someone who doesn’t find too many things nostalgic—hell, my favorite game is only from nine years ago—it was impressive to find that Moher’s words took the wheel and had me riding shotgun while I relived some of the best escapism from my youth. Even if I hadn’t played the title he was discussing, I still felt a connection to the content. Moher’s appreciation and intent are infectious and well worth investing your time into. Fight, Magic, Items isn’t just a history of some of the greats, but a celebration of an incredible sub-genre that has influenced people the world over.
io9 has an excerpt!
Fight, Magic, Items might be on store shelves, but if you’re on the fence or waiting for your copy from the library, you can head over to io9 for an exclusive excerpt.
This excerpt is an adapted version of the chapter covering Final Fantasy VII‘s risky development, meteoric success, and long legacy, and serves as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of its western release, which happened earlier this month.
Here’s a sneak peek:
There are moments in a person’s life when they know with certainty that things have changed and a new era has begun. That they’re taking a step forward in history. Drenched in the glow of a CRT, a group of friends explored the slums of Midgar and knew, with absolute certainty, that things would never be the same again. That night lasted forever and was over in the blink of an eye. When they stepped out into daylight the next morning, Midgar’s Sector 7 was burning at their backs, and they set forth into a new era of JRPGs.
Such was the impact of Square’s Final Fantasy VII. It changed not just the kids in my friend’s basement, but the entire genre its predecessors had helped establish a decade and a half earlier, crossing the threshold of a new era of JRPGs without looking back.
I had been a Nintendo die-hard my whole life, but later that morning, blurry eyed and sleep-deprived, I somehow convinced my dad to take a multi-hour trip by ferry and car to the Sony Store and lay down a few hundred bucks. We left with our very own PlayStation and a beautiful, shrink-wrapped copy of Final Fantasy VII— the allure of Square on PlayStation was irresistible.
Sony’s gamble had paid off.
This little Nintendo fanboy was now a PlayStation fan.
Interview on Capital Daily
Capital Daily is a wonderful local news site covering many local topics I’m invested in—so I was tickled when they reached out to cover the book with this profile by Tim Ford, especially since we got to chat about Canada’s long history with video games and Japanese RPGs.
Canada, which is the world’s third-largest producer of video games after the United States and Japan, has roots in the industry that go right back to one of the most influential companies out there: Nintendo of America.
“When this all tied back to Canada, I was like, this is so fascinating to me, because I don’t think of Canada being necessarily connected to the world of video games,” Moher said.
“But that of course, has changed a lot. Canada is a huge home for so many game developers and publishers, and I think that it’s only kind of natural to look back and find all these connections to Canada.”
Interview on Retrograde Amnesia podcast
When I covered Retrograde Amnesia for Wired earlier this year, I got to chat with hosts Eric Layman and Chris Stone about their remarkable work building a book club community centred on a shared love of retro JRPGs. They were kind enough to turn the tables and recently hosted me for a long discussion about Japanese RPGs, Fight, Magic, Items, and the time I lost my childhood Chrono Trigger save because I was eating too much candy.
Interview on ComicBook.com
I had a lovely chat with ComicBook.com’s Jamie Lovett about Fight, Magic, Items, Japanese RPGs, writing, and what the future of the genre might look like. It’s an absolute pleasure to be interviewed by someone with such obvious experience and love for the subject matter.
Here’s a taste:
Aidan Moher has literally written the book on Japanese role-playing games. The Hugo Award-winning editor and journalist, whose work has appeared at Wired and Kotaku among other outlets, has written his first book. Titled Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West, the book chronicles the ups and downs of JRPGs’ presence and popularity in North America, from the genre’s inception with Yuji Horii and Hironobu Sakaguchi creating Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, respectively, to the 32-bit boom, to the work of a new generation of designers that grew up playing those 8, 16, and 32-bit classics.
Moher put a lot of personality and personal experience into Fight, Magic, Items, making it a rich, satisfying, and entertaining read. With only two weeks left until the book goes on sale to the public, ComicBook.com caught up with Moher to chat about how Fight, Magic, Items came together and what he thinks the future has in store for the JRPG genre.