Tag: Videogames

I sold a book! Announcing “Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West” (Running Press // October, 2022)

Cue Victory Fanfare

You’ve maybe noticed Astrolabe’s been a little quiet for the past few months. Well, I’ve had good reason for that, and now I can finally tell you why, and I’ve literally been waiting my whole life to say this:I’m pleased to say I’ve sold my first book, Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West to Britny Brooks-Perilli at Running Press. And the best part? It’s done! Written, revised, copyedited, and off to production as we speak for release in early October, 2022. Just a few months away—and perfectly timed for the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII‘s western release. What a (totally intentional) coincidence!

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

Here’s the 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 known for unforgettable characters, rich stories, and some of the most iconic games in the industry. Inspired by early western RPGs and introducing boundary-pushing technology and artistic styles, they’re responsible for many of gaming’s boldest and most successful games—and have 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 fueling the creation of countless classic 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 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 Yuji Horii and Hironobu Sakaguchi to create Chrono Trigger; to 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 its continued hold on millions of fans, decades after those first iconic pixelated games released.

I’ll write at greater length about my process and experiences with the book soon—because, boy howdy, did I learn a lot not only about JRPGs, but writing, publishing, and everything in between. This has been an intense labour of love for me as I wrote and revised Fight, Magic, Items between last summer and January, 2022. This book combines all my experience with JRPGs as a kid growing up during their golden age and explosive growth in the west with my background in games journalism, reporting, interviewing, and personal narrative history. It’s part history, part memoir, and all JRPG goodness.

This is a story that’s been brewing inside of me since my earliest memories of exploring the mines of Narshe on my trusty Commodore 1702 monitor, flying high in the skies of Zeal on the Blackbird, and soaking in Midgar’s neon glow with my friends at my side. It’s a dream come true, and I owe huge thanks to my agent, Eric Smith, who prompted the idea almost two years ago; my editor Britny, for giving me a platform; and my friend Ty Schalter for always being there with a Phoenix Down when I needed it most.

I’ll be revealing the cover at a later date, but right now I can tell you it (and the interior art) is being created by the astonishingly talented Sara Alfageeh. I’ve had a peek at the near final cover, and, whoo boy, let me tell you: it’s amazing. Sara’s previously worked on things I love, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and has a terrific looking graphic novel coming out in March, 2022 called Squire. If you’re very adventurous, you might even find a sneak peek of the Fight, Magic, Items cover by taking your sleuthing skills to her Twitter profile.

For more information, and links to purchase from your favourite online book retailer visit Fight, Magic, Item‘s official page on the Hachette website.

If you can, please consider supporting your local bookstores with a pre-order for Fight, Magic, Items. This helps not only the book, but also supports the small businesses and booksellers that are the heart and soul of the bookselling industry.

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

More preorder links:

2020 Award Eligibility: Best Fan Writer

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

God. 2020.

WTF?

This was a very difficult year for all of us, and nothing will ever change that. While navigating all the challenges 2020 presented, however, it has also been one of the most successful years for me from a creative, professional, and fan writer stand point. I picked up an agent, continued pouring words into two books I’m super excited about, started TWO fanzines, and wrote some of my best-ever articles and essays.

This is also the first year in a long time that I have no eligible fiction. Which is weird. However, I’m eligible for some awards, and so is most of my work individually and collectively. I’m very proud of my work in 2020, and I hope you’ll find some value in it, and also hope you keep me in mind when filling out nomination ballots.

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Open Your Eyes: Link’s Awakening (Switch, 2019)

Rewind 26 years, and you’ll find me and my best friend bundled up in our jackets sitting on our school playground about an hour before the bell rings. Breath is fogging in front of our faces. We don’t notice. The tips of our fingers are cold. We don’t care. Our eyes are glued to the boxy grey devices in our hands. Through a tiny 4.5″ screen, we’ve been transported wholly to Koholint Island.

We’re playing The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Gameboy. It’s an adventure I’ve never forgotten.

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Out & About: Ten Thousand Doors, Thirteen Books, and a Little Hatred

Photo by Pawe? Czerwi?ski on Unsplash

Though it’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of my recent work, that’s not for lack of writing. I’ve got a couple of reviews, a retrospective of a video game I’ve been waiting to play for over 20 years, and a round up of books perfect for fans of Japanese RPGs.

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Generation JRPG: The Cutting Room Floor

Photo by Aidan Moher

Yesterday, my epic article about the influence of the Golden Age of Japanese RPGs (from the SNES to the PlayStation 2) went up on Kotaku, and it’s been a blast seeing so many people reach out on Twitter and message boards to tell me about their similar experiences. I spoke to several SFF writers, such as Scott Lynch, Tamsyn Muir, Peng Shepherd, and Troy L. Wiggins, about their experience growing up as gamers and how that’s influenced their popular SFF work.

The final version of “How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors” clocked in at a weighty 5,500 words, but the original draft was over 10,000 words long before we started whipping it into shape. And, even then, there was a TON of great content from the authors I interviewed that didn’t find a home in the piece. They didn’t fit into the overall narrative, they were too much a divergence from the main path, etc. So, I wanted to use this space to pull a few of those stories forward and given them the home on the Internet they deserve.

If you haven’t already, go and give it a read, and then come back here for the juicy outtakes after the jump.

Thanks for reading!

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Out & About: Generation JRPG

Over on Kotaku (!!!, what is my life?), I’ve got a longread the explores the connection between the new wave of SFF writers and the influence of Golden Age Japanese RPGs (from the 16- and 32-bit era, like Final Fantasy 7, Chrono Trigger, Suikoden 2, etc.) I’ve been working on it for a long, long time and I’m so proud it’s finally out there for everyone to read.

An excerpt from “How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors”:

When I think back to my childhood and teenage years, when my literary tastes were being forged in the crucible of youthful emotion and impressionism, particular scenes come to life: Sam carrying Frodo up Mt. Doom. The Reaper chasing Wil Ohmsford through the Westland. Marle hugging Crono on top of Death Peak.

Most fantasy readers won’t need a reminder of what books the first two scenes come from (Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks), and most Kotaku readers won’t miss the reference to the classic Japanese role-playing game Chrono Trigger. And for some, all three of those works are of equal importance. Today’s fantasy novelists are just as likely to have been inspired by JRPGs as they are J.R.R. Tolkien. For some authors, Celes’ performance at the Opera House is just as much of a storytelling touchstone as young Simon fleeing Pryrates beneath the Hayholt.

It was an absolute pleasure to chat with various SFF writers about the topic. When I first started conceptualizing the piece, I had this vision of me showing up on Twitter like a naked dude at a graduation—everyone staring at me funny because I was the only one writer inspired by Golden Age JRPGs. Based by the overwhelmingly positive response on Twitter, this is obviously not the case.

I had to cut A TON of content from the interviews and first draft, so check back soon for a post featuring some of my favourite out takes that didn’t make it into the final article.

Read “How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors” on Kotaku.

While we’re at it, I also have reviews of Terry Brooks’ The Stiehl Assassin and This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone over on the Barnes and Noble SF&F blog.

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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