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Nostalgia Review Package Art
Red Entertainment, Matrix Software
Ignition Entertainment

Nostalgia Review

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard scoring criteria.

Nintendo DS has a rather dynamic library when it comes to RPGs. Quality remakes of genre classics like Chrono Triggerand Final Fantasy IV are sure to please traditionalists while other titles, such as Devil Survivor and The World Ends With You, have been pushing boundaries with new gameplay twists and contemporary settings. Nostalgia is definitely trying to appeal to the traditionalists, but the developers were not afraid to throw some new ideas into the classic RPG formula.

Nostalgia’s set up is quite classic; the famed explorer Gilbert Brown has gone missing after rescuing a mysterious girl from an evil-looking group of equally mysterious bad guys and it is up to Gilbert’s son, Eddie, to put together the pieces of what in the world is going on. Using his father’s airship, Eddie will travel throughout the world, visiting major cities and long forgotten ruins as he follows Gilbert’s footsteps to the truth. However, one thing that makes Nostalgia stand out is the familiar world in which it takes place – a Victorian era version of our own. While there are some differences between the real world and that of Nostalgia’s (which features plenty of mythological lands, magic, and a touch of steampunk), most of the locales and general geography are recognizable.

This alternate history world is also helped realized through Nostalgia’s great 3D engine. Every environment is rendered with an impressive attention to detail, though some dungeons can get a little repetitive and the overworld is surprisingly sparse. Battles also look good thanks to a variety of interesting enemy designs and solid animations. All of this should come as no surprise to when gamers learn that Matrix Software, the guys behind Final Fantasy III and IV, handled the graphics on Nostalgia as well.

Nostalgia Screenshots

Also like the aforementioned remakes, Nostalgia features classic RPG gameplay, with the core pillar being random, turn based battles. Nostalgia does take a few steps forward with a few design decisions though: the order of attack is displayed on the bottom screen so the player can effectively strategize their next move based on when each party member and enemy will be attacking. Gamers who effectively use this tool will be rewarded after every battle with bonus experience and money based on a grading system that judges each battle. Poor grades do not take anything away, but consistent A and S rankings will definitely speed up the fairly long periods of level grinding needed to effectively progress in each new area and dungeon.

For another nice twist, all battles taking place on the world map are fought in the air, either against opposing airships or a variety of monstrous flying creatures. These battles don’t play out all that differently except for the fact that each party member takes over one of the airship’s weapons and will have new special moves to take advantage of.

Nostalgia Screenshots

One newer idea Nostalgia pulls off very well are customizable skill trees for each character. While each member of the party has a predetermined emphasis, such as healing or offensive magic, skills can be upgraded at the whims of the player by spending skill points earned in battle. While this option cannot turn a healer into a fighter, it can drastically affect the balance of a party. Spreading the points around evenly will create a well-rounded party, but there is nothing stopping the player from pumping every point into one character, effectively creating an unstoppable juggernaut. While this feature doesn’t grant the same level of freedom found in modern RPGs, it is an interesting and worthwhile addition to the more classic RPG formula.

The simple story, interesting setting, and solid gameplay all help Nostalgia move along at quick pace but eventually a nasty snag appears that hurts the game. While Nostalgia avoids much of the overblown melodrama that can either help or hurt modern RPGs, it also lacks the interesting characters and dialogue that made classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI so compelling. Much of the writing makes most characters and situations feel quite flat and uninspired, almost like the story is being told in as matter-of-fact a way as possible. Because of this problem, battling and exploring will probably serve as the only real inspiration for seeing Nostalgia through to the end and sticking around for the numerous extra quests and objectives.

Nostalgia Screenshots

Overall, Nostalgia delivers as solid a gameplay experience as its venerable influences but ultimately fails to deliver the same spirit and energy that truly makes a game classic. Regardless, Nostalgia is a very solid RPG and should easily please fans of the 16-bit era while also appealing to more modern gamers thanks to the interesting setting and the clever ways it has spiced up several classic RPG gameplay elements. Still, with so many classic RPGs available on DS, Nostalgia is kind of a hard game to recommend; it is a good game in its own right but cannot really hope to compete with the kings of the genre. So in other words, gamers who have yet to indulge in the brilliance of Chrono Trigger DS should not put Nostalgia on the top of their “to play” list.

final score 7.7/10

Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"

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