Tag: Gaming

Announcement! Fight, Magic, Items is going global!

Exciting news! Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs is making its global debut in Saudi Arabia thanks to Yatakhayloon.

Here’s the announcement:

Here’s a cool piece about how Yatakhayloon is helping to bridge the gap between Arab mythology with western science fiction:

[Novelist Ibraheem Abbas] first novel, “HWJN,” is the story of forbidden love between a 90-year-old supernatural jinn, who experiences his first interactions with the human dimension through a relationship with a young woman.

The novel is told from the perspective of the supernatural creatures and cleverly conveys their standpoint on humans. (In Islam, jinn are extraterrestrial, invisible creatures believed to have been made from “smokeless fire by God.”)

In writing “HWJN,” Abbas had no intention of publishing the story. It was merely a medium where he could channel his “personal creative journey” in which he allowed his notions to roam free.

But when he ultimately decided to publish “HWJN,” Abbas and his partner, Yasser Bahjatt, hit a brick wall. Publishers didn’t want it. It was too fantastical for Arab tastes. As a result, they were compelled to launch Yatakhayloon where it was successfully published.

In addition to science fiction’s growth, gaming is booming in Saudi Arabia, and the country is Nintendo’s largest outside investor, owning 8.26% of the Japanese gaming company. It’s such a thrill to know that Arab gamers are going to get to experience my story about the rise of Japanese RPGs and the cultural exchange with western games that has created one of the most vibrant and interesting genres in the world.

I don’t know when the Yatakhayloon version will be released, but it’s happening sometime this year. AND. I’ve got two more announcements coming as soon as the ink is dry on the contracts (I just signed another international rights deal yesterday!) So, keep an eye out for those.

Fight, Magic, Items is out now!

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.

Buy Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West

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.

Listen to “Random Encounter 252 – Random Book Club – Fight, Magic, Items”

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.

Read the full review at Nerds of a Feather

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.

Read “How Final Fantasy VII Changed the Gaming Landscape Forever” on io9

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.”

Read “Fight, Magic, Items is a chronicle of how Japanese roleplaying games levelled up through the decades” on Capital Daily

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.

Listen to Retrograde Amnesia’s “A Chat with Aidan Moher, author of Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs

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.

Read “Fight, Magic, Items Author Aidan Moher Discusses the JRPG’s Past, Present, and Future” on ComicBook.com

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.


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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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