ETAO PODCAST, EPISODE 145.
Aidan Moher is probably best known for his long-running, Hugo-winning blog A Dribble of Ink and its spiritual successor Astrolabe, or else for his short-form fiction, which prods at the boundaries of various sci-fi and fantasy subgenres. Today, he releases his first non-fiction book, FIGHT, MAGIC, ITEMS: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West—and he stops by to attune to our aetheryte and have a chat.
You can get FIGHT, MAGIC, ITEMS, both physically and digitally, all the places listed here.
You can also follow Aidan on Twitter, one of the places you can subscribe to Astrolabe.
• Here’s Aidan’s Astrolabe post about “pre-release jitters”.
• FIGHT, MAGIC, ITEMS tells the full story of The Portopia Serial Murder Case, but in short: It was one of Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii’s earliest games, and it was first released for the NEC PC-6001 was a visual novel controlled with a text parser. That wasn’t going to work on the Famicom, both for storage reasons and for interface reasons—and in reworking the game for button-based menus, Horii laid the groundwork for the menu-based JRPG interfaces to come.
• Here’s Legend of Etad, which was built for the Playdate.
• The remastermeisters at M2 were involved in Seiken Densetsu: Legend of Mana (Square Millennium Collection), so at the risk of being reductive, that’s probably why it’s a good’n.
• For a look at why the Dragon Quest games didn’t come West for a while there, here’s a lovely Paste piece looking back at Dragon Quest V these 30 years on.
• Here’s the Action Button review of Boku no Natsuyasumi that discusses, among a great many other things, the radically combat-free opening hours of Dragon Quest VII.
• And here’s Aidan’s first piece on “weaponized nostalgia” in Final Fantasy VII Remake. He talks about the game’s remarkable highs and equally remarkable lows, and about the oddness of trying to write about or think about or even just engage with a work that’s so ever-incomplete.
• Yoshi-P recently said that he “decided to position FFXIV as a fan service title, and because it belonged to the MMORPG genre, I was able to run with an idea nobody had ever tried before and create a sort of Final Fantasy theme park.” That’s one half of Final Fantasy’s relationship to its own past. The other half, Drew has written about in the context of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Drew and Lucio have also talked about remake culture generally, and Drew has thought a bit about remakes seeming simultaneously pious toward, and embarrassed by, their originals.
• Here’s that Digital Foundry video on DOOM for SNES.
• And here’s Aidan’s article for Wired about using CRTs to play games here in the modern era.
• Atlus’ deeply anti-preservationist lawsuit against a “gray” Shin Megami Tenei Imagine Online server is a pretty good example of why preservation often has to be, you know, extralegal.
• If these ideas of genre (and sharing, and anti-gatekeeping) are intriguing to you, then do check out our conversation with Santiago Zapata.
“All The People Say (Season 5)” by Carpe Demon.
“Crystal Paradise” by Joseph Sussman, performed by The Stardusters with Phil Napoleon and His Orchestra.
“Draggin’ the Dragon” by (W.C.?) Handy, performed by the Cotton Blossom Orchestra.
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