Tag: Gaming

Fight, Magic, Items has a shiny new website!

FakeNet Initiated

Hi! Just a quick boo to let you know I’ve made a fun website for my upcoming book on the history of Japanese RPGs, Fight, Magic, Items. Head on over to fightmagicitems.rocks for all the info you could possibly want about the book, how to preorder it, request review copies, find current and upcoming appearances, etc.

You’ll also get a sneak peek of the gorgeous interior designs from the Running Press design team and artist Sara Alfageeh. This book looks good, y’all.

It’s a one-stop-shop for all things Fight, Magic, Items, and is the perfect link to share with other readers who’ll love the book.

Visit FightMagicItems.Rocks >>

Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs will be released by Running Press on October 4th, 2022. If you’re interested in reviewing or covering Fight, Magic, Items, head on over to NetGalley and request a copy. And, remember: preorders are love!

In the meantime, check out these generous reviews by a few early readers on NetGalley!

Fight, Magic, Items review copies now available!

You acquired “Fight, Magic, Items”! Would you like to equip it? Yes/No

I’ve been reviewing books as a blogger and a professional critic for over 15 years. I’ve been buried under piles of early review copies, trawled NetGalley for early digital copies, and seen my review blurbs plastered on book covers. It’s been a ride.

But now: the tables are turned.

Because drum roll review copies of Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West are now available for request on NetGalley!

Here’s the most recent blurb:

Take a journey through the history of Japanese role-playing games—from the creators who built it, the games that defined it, and the stories that transformed pop culture and continue to capture the imaginations of millions of fans to this day.

The Japanese roleplaying game (JRPG) genre is one that is known for bold, unforgettable characters; rich stories, and some of the most iconic and beloved games in the industry. Inspired by early western RPGs and introducing technology and artistic styles that pushed the boundaries of what video games could be, this genre is responsible for creating some of the most complex, bold, and beloved games in history—and it has the fanbase to prove it. In Fight, Magic, Items, Aidan Moher guides readers through the fascinating history of JRPGs, exploring the technical challenges, distinct narrative and artistic visions, and creative rivalries that fueled the creation of countless iconic games and their quest to become the best, not only in Japan, but in North America, too.

Moher starts with the origin stories of two classic Nintendo titles, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, and immerses readers in the world of JRPGs, following the interconnected history from through the lens of their creators and their stories full of hope, risk, and pixels, from the tiny teams and almost impossible schedules that built the foundations of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises; Reiko Kodama pushing the narrative and genre boundaries with Phantasy Star; the unexpected team up between Horii and Sakaguchi to create Chrono Trigger; or the unique mashup of classic Disney with Final Fantasy coolness in Kingdom Hearts. Filled with firsthand interviews and behind-the-scenes looks into the development, reception, and influence of JRPGs, Fight, Magic, Items captures the evolution of the genre and why it continues to grab us, decades after those first iconic pixelated games released.

If you’re interested in reviewing or covering Fight, Magic, Items, head on over to NetGalley and request a copy (it’s quick and easy to set up an account). I’m a big proponent of grassroots word of mouth for books, so don’t hesitate to request a copy no matter the size of your audience or your platform. And, if you’re interested in working with me on a feature/interview/whatever regarding the book, please reach out!

Request Fight, Magic, Items on NetGalley

On a personal note, it’s dawning on me that review copies going out means, um, people are, like, reading the book now, and, you know what? I’m fine. Really. I’m fine. All good. Not freaking out at all.

Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs will be officially released by Running Press on October 4th, 2022. Just 68 days away! If you’re not planning to cover or review it, but still want a copy, remember that preorders are love! Check the previous link for online retailers or head to your favourite local bookstore and make a request. Preorders make all the difference, especially for debut authors like me.

My Dungeons & Dragons story “Dame Beatrix J. Delacroix III’s Guide For Training Your New Beholder” is out now!

It’s out! The new Dungeons & Dragons Beholder figurine, including my story “Dame Beatrix J. Delacroix III’s Guide For Training Your New Beholder,” is available now! Creating two canon Dungeons & Dragons characters is a dream come true, and I hope you all enjoy meeting them.

Here’s a fun review on Comicon.com from Anton Kromoff:

This little friend comes packaged with a small book entitled “Guide For Training Your New Beholder” and is attributed to the author Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix the 3rd. This tiny tome expounds upon the ways to care for your Beholder, creating a domain for your Beholder and, of course, adventuring with and taming your Beholder.

The good Dame Delacroix the 3rd is also very clear in her information booklet that there are no refunds of any kind, and once you take possession of the Beholder it is very much your own problem.

Just look at it!

And here’s what I had to say in my original announcement:

“Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is an accompanying booklet for an officially licensed light-up Beholder figurine. It’s also quite possibly the most hilariously enjoyable project I’ve worked on.

Working with the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast and my editor Brit Brooks-Perilli at Running Press, I was given a lot of freedom to have fun writing this guide about training your brand new (and very disgruntled) Beholder pet, and, well… it goes just about as well as you’d imagine.

This might be a relatively small story in the overall Dungeons & Dragons world, but it’s a thrill to get to introduce fans to Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III, her granddaughter Pip, and their menagerie of dangerous creatures. “Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is a 32-page mini guidebook that walks you through your early days with your new Beholder, how to set up its new home, tips for feeding and care, and offers tons of advice for what to do when (not if!) things go awry.

Obviously, working in the Dungeons & Dragons world—which has been a huge part of my life since adolescence—has been an absolute treat. Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III and Pip have already stolen my heart (along with a few… let’s call them unregulated living curiousities), and with any luck this won’t be the last you see of them.

This figurine (with a glowing eye!) and the guidebook is available now!

But, just remember: Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Menagerie of Unusual Kind does not offer refunds or returns on products.

Check out the cover for “Fight, Magic, Items” at Nerdist!

Y’all know Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West is coming this October, but now, thanks to an exclusive reveal at Nerdist, we’ve got our first look at its gorgeous cover art.

When I first started writing Fight, Magic, Items, I had all these grand ideas for a cover. I wanted bold colours, details you could sink into for days, easter eggs for longtime fans, and everything between. This cover from artist Sara Alfageeh (who I interviewed for my newsletter!) is so far above and beyond my expectations. It’s brilliant, and just the right cover for this book. I’m obsessed with the way the book’s title mimics the iconic battle commands from classic JRPGs. Those commands were obvious inspiration for the book’s title, so to see Sara and Running Press’s design team not only get that, but run with the idea is such a thrilling moment. If you know, you know—and I think anyone who sees this cover will know exactly what they’re getting inside.

Visit Nerdist to see the full, high resolution cover!

First Impressions: Pyra’s Boo—Err… Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Going into Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I knew the experience might not be for me. I enjoyed the first game in the series—especially its scope, colourful setting, and story—but burned out of in forty hours in after getting stuck on a boss. So, I was excited when the second game was announced, but critical and fan reception was mixed, and for all the wrong reasons. Still, I was able to snag the game on sale, and, in the wake of Breath of the Wild, looking for something sprawling and epic, decided to take the chance.

And, let’s just get this out of the way:

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a heaping mess.

But.

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First Impressions: Octopath Traveler (Square Enix, 2018)

The JRPGs of the mid-’90s have influenced me more than any other media outside of fantasy fiction. I grew up OBSESSED with Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI; poured hundreds of hours into Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, Xenogears, Grandia, and Suikoden; have replayed games from that era over-and-over again in the 20 years since. It’s no exaggeration to say that Octopath Traveller, a new JRPG from Square Enix and Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch that hearkens back to the halcyon days of Squaresoft, was made for me.

I’ve spent a fair bit of time with it now, and I’m pleased to say that not only does Octopath Traveller do justice to the classics of its genre, it manages to take the feeling of those games and create something that feels both nostalgic and modern at the same time.

The first thing you’ll notice about Octopath Traveler is its unique blend of 3D-environments and 16-bit style spritework/pixel art. I left a playthrough of Final Fantasy VI unfinished to pick up Octopath Traveler, and the similarities are obviously striking—but, the more I play, the more I’m reminded of the 32-bit RPGs that melded 2D sprites with 3D environments, like Grandia or Xenogears. However, rather than trying for a 1:1 emulation of the old style, as many throwback JRPGs do, Octopath Traveller combines the 16/32-bit aesthetic with modern sensibilities. As someone who grew up on 16/32-bit JRPGs, it’s a heady combination that manages to look the way I remember those games looking, which is a high compliment.

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Things I Love: My Top 10 RPGs

Over the past couple of years, I’ve made a dedicated a lot of my gaming time (such as it is these days…) to revisiting older RPGs. I grew up playing everything from Squaresoft’s finest on SNES to BioWare’s amazing output on the PC. It’s been a joy to revisit favourites, such as those listed below, and discover some classics that slipped past me at the time of release.

Since I’ve been thinking so much about these older games, and recognizing (or rediscovering) what makes them work so effectively, especially compared to a lot of modern games, which I’m finding myself less attracted to, I thought it would be fun to explore my Top 10 Favourite RPGs (and 10 Honourable Mentions.

(The list is unordered, except for the first game, which is undisputedly my favourite game of all time.)

Let’s go!

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Second Impressions: Grandia (PSX – 1999)

I played Grandia to completion back when it was first released, and have always considered it one of the high-water marks of PSX-era JRPGs. However, in a lot of ways, it hasn’t aged well, particularly while playing it on original hardware (or PSP, where I first attempted to replay it) due to slowdown, so I’ve never made it more than a few hours into a replay. This time, I’m playing it via Retroarch, using GPU overclock for a consistent 30fps, and it’s like a new experience.

I’m currently two hours deep and exploring the game’s first dungeon: the Sult Ruins.


Some thoughts:

  • I *love* the sense of optimism and adventure. One of my favourite games of all time is Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, which shares these attributes, but Grandia takes it to another level. There’s no overarching horror encroaching on the world at the get-go. In fact, it’s a time of peace. Justin wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an adventurer—to explore the world, discover knew things, dig up knowledge. In this day and age where we have grizzled Geralt from The Witcher, Lara Croft dousing people with gasoline and lighting them on fire, and beautiful but excessively violent games like Ghosts of Tsushima, it’s so refreshing to return to a time when game settings were fun and joyous.
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First Impressions: Crash Override by Zoë Quinn

Like everyone online, I watched Gamergate crash through gaming culture with a look of horror and surprise on my face. In its wake is an industry and community that is still reeling from the vitriolic hatred that hid itself under the guise of an ethical crusade.

After listening to Felicia Day’s memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (impressions here), and finding myself intrigued (and once again horrified) by her recounting of abuse during the Gamergate campaign, I wanted to find a more in-depth exploration of the events.

At the centre of Gamergate was a young independent video game developer named Zoë Quinn. Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate is both Quinn’s memoir, and also a handbook for how to understand the culture—both on the Internet and off of it—that led to Gamergate, and continues to shape much of the sociopolitical landscape around the globe.

Where Quinn goes above-and-beyond is the way she’s able to pick the movement apart, piece-by-piece and analyze the way it acted as a canary in a coalmine for the events leading up to and preceding the 2016 US election. I’ve looked back on Gamergate, and also the Sad/Rapid Puppies campaigns that took aim at the Hugo Awards for several years, and often thought to myself that they were a warning of what’s to come. Quinn, in the bullseye, had a clear view of the events, and her analysis is bought thoughtful and well-grounded.

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Things I Love: Pathfinder’s world of Golarion

Listen, I don’t play Pathfinder. Haven’t played a game. Sure, I’ve read the manuals, but I don’t have a playgroup with the consistency necessary to get a game up-and-running, let alone a campaign that would allow us to really get into what makes tabletop gaming great.

Yet, I’ve scoured the Inner Sea World Guide from cover-to-cover, and I’ve read a huge stack of the tie-in fiction line, Pathfinder Tales. These days, I feel as comfortable in its world, Golarion, as I do in the Four Lands from Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, or Middle-earth.

Why do I love it so much?

  • So. Much. Variety—From the dozens of cultures, countries, social groups, religions, races, ethnicities, etc. to the *humongous* world that would swallow most other secondary worlds without even noticing, to the emphasis on diversity and endless possibility, Pathfinder’s world of Golarion excites my imagination so much that it’s directly informed my own worldbuilding for the Patchwork Priest series.
  • Adventure around every corner—Golarion is wide as an ocean, and deep as the Marianas Trench. It’s created in a way that its every corner invites creativity and adventure. Court intrigue, temple pillaging, barbarian raids, fallen spacecraft (yep, you read that right), and murderous death cults. Sure it’s tropey, but that’s never bothered me before, and there’s just so much of it. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Golarion’s got you covered.
  • Inclusivity—Paizo, the creator of Pathfinder, is at the forefront of creators developing inclusive gaming spaces and worlds. Pathfinder goes out of its way to allow players to be whoever the want or need to be to get the best experience possible. A good example of this is the change in Pathfinder 2.0 that’s removing “race” and replacing it with “ancestry.” Small changes can have huge impacts.

So, am I excited for Pathfinder 2.0 despite never having played a game? Damned straight. The greatest roleplaying universe is about to get so much better.

Now, I can go back to praying that Paizo will revitalize the Pathfinder Tales line to coincide with the launch of Pathfinder 2.0 (and let me write one of the dozen stories I’ve outlined starring Toma and Illindrial.)

Want to know more about Golarion, and dip your toes into the fiction? Check out my post on B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Welcome to Golarion—Enter the World of the Pathfinder Tales.