Nostalgia was developed by Red Entertainment and Matrix Software for the DS, the latter company being the team behind Final Fantasy III, and IV for the DS. Having said that Nostalgia is very much similar to those games, if you are a fan of those titles then chances are you’ll really like Nostalgia, likewise if you didn’t care for either of those games then Nostalgia will have a tough time sparking any interests for you.
Nostalgia’s premise is a fairly original idea, unlike the vast majority of RPGs that take place in fictitious worlds this game actually takes place on Earth. The game will have you travel to almost every major city and region in the world such as London, Cairo, Tokyo, and New York. On top of this Nostalgia is set in a 19th century steampunk time period which also gives the game some originality, the steampunk genre is surprisingly underused in RPGs and its also simply good to see that it didn’t go down the typical route of being in medieval times, or a dystopian future. Unfortunately much of Nostalgia’s originality stops there, and once you play a few minutes into the game you realize that it’s very much a by-the-books RPG.
To start on one of Nostalgia’s strengths it’s graphics are top notch, being developed by the same people that made Final Fantasy III, and IV will of course show in this title. The graphics push the DS very well, characters are nicely rendered and fairly detailed, their polygon bodies never come off as blocky and their animations are smooth. Environments are equally pleasing to look at, there is a wide variety of places you will explore in Nostalgia and all of them are unique in their own way. If you’ve played either Final Fantasy remake on the system you’ll know what to expect, Nostalgia has some of the most impressive technical visuals on the DS.
Audio in Nostalgia is adequate, the music always fits the mood the game is in, battles sound exciting while sea side towns are calming, appropriate tunes are played in each environment. Sound effects are pretty standard with sword slashes, gun shots, and magic attacks, nothing really new here. Nostalgia also doesn’t support any voice overs and even though this is almost expected on the DS it still would have been nice to at least have them for the cut scenes. Overall there isn’t much to complain about in the sound department, none of the music really stands out from the crowd of other RPGs but then again not every RPG could have the soundtrack of a Final Fantasy.
The story is pretty standard fair for the genre, you play as Eddie the son of one of the most famous adventurers in the world. When Eddie’s father one day mysteriously disappears it’s up to Eddie to go out and find him, of course along the way he’ll meet several people who want to join his party for reasons of their own. Add in some standard dialog and a few plot twists and you have the story, as an RPG the game’s story is supposed to be one of it’s strong points and for the most part Nostalgia fulfills this need and keeps the player interested in the story.
Gameplay is where Nostalgia becomes a love it or hate it affair, if you’re a fan of RPGs then you’ll find plenty to like in Nostalgia however if you don’t really care about the genre then there isn’t much that this title will be able to do to convince you otherwise. To state it simply, Nostalgia is somewhat of a typical RPG. Just to clarify on this point if you’ve played any of the Final Fantasies or Dragon Quest games then you’ll know what to do right away in Nostalgia. The player explores a town, finds quests to do, goes into a dungeon and defeats the boss in that dungeon. Battles are turn-based with the ability to attack, defend, run and use a special skill. If all this sounds familiar then you already know what to expect from this game. One of the few things that does make Nostalgia different from other RPGs however is it’s heavy focus on airships. Right from the beginning you’re given access to an airship, and although the map is limited at first it eventually opens up and allows you to fly all across the blue planet. To further emphasis the air travel theme the game actually has airship battles which is a nice surprise, although the fights are still turn-based its still a nice little change from the typical on foot battles. Furthermore the airship is also upgradable so building up your transport becomes an important part of the game later on.
Overall Nostalgia is a great title, the graphics are top notch, sound is acceptable and it’s presentation is great. It’s good to see an RPG taking on a different premise by being set on Earth in the 19th century, the game is very much a steampunk game and for those who are a fan of that culture will be delighted. Nostalgia is a really good RPG by many means however this one fact keeps it from becoming a classic, it’s too much like every other Japanese RPG out there, if you were to take away the setting and airship battles you would be left with the foundation of what every single RPG is based off of. Ironically Nostalgia did leave me nostalgic, nostalgic for the RPGs I’ve played many years ago simply because its so similar to them. The game almost plays it “too safe” and hardly ever steps off the well worn path that countless RPGs before it have walked on. All of it culminates to one statement if you’re an RPG fan then Nostalgia is an excellent choice and recommended. If you aren’t a fan then I would find it difficult to recommend, however if you’re open to the idea of playing an RPG but haven’t before then Nostalgia is good way to try out the genre, it’s an enjoyable game to play through and a testament to the tried and trued methods of the RPG genre.