Never before has there been a more appropriately named game. Nostalgia is the latest release from Ignition Entertainment and comes from the development team of Matrix Software (who had their hand in the remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV). Knowing that going in, it should be no wonder that Nostalgia is one of the best role-playing games on the Nintendo DS. That’s saying something considering the system has fan-favorites such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest available. But, just what makes Nostalgia so gosh-darned nostalgically good? Everything.
This game brings back those memories of a sense of wonder and adventure from when one was younger. There are random battles aplenty, a flying airship, a familiar skill system, gameplay is turn-based, and there are some familiar monster types (the first monster that one encounters is a rat for crying out loud!). The structure is also very similar to other Japanese role-playing games (JRPG) in that the player has to hit a town to advance the plot, gain experience via battles, and use loot to buy equipment. The game hits just about every other expectation one would have for an RPG.
One thing about Nostalgia that will strike players right off the bat is the setting. The game takes place in the 19th century and begins in London. The world is rife with magic and there’s a definite steampunk vibe throughout. This alternate history of the world takes players from London to other major cities in the world as they follow the exploits of Eddie Brown and his cohorts on a quest to find his lost father, Gilbert, and save the world in the process. At the start of the game Gilbert is attempting to save a girl from a mysterious cult named the Cabal and goes missing during the rescue. His airship is recovered, but his whereabouts remain unknown.
To be honest, the story is kind of flat. It lacks that draw that pulls users in, and aside form the rich setting, there’s really nothing dynamic about it. The plot has many stereotypes and doesn’t have the emotional development typically associated with some of the more robust RPGs. Still, the true beauty to Nostalgia is the experience as a whole, so thankfully the game isn’t being judged on the merits of its story alone.
When Nostalgia begins, Eddie is all alone and heads off to become an Adventurer. In the first mission the game quickly introduces all the mechanics, and believe me when I tell you that this is completely unnecessary. Even though this is a new title, it will all feel familiar, including the mechanics. A random encounter in a dungeon reveals a turn-based combat engine — when a character steps up to the plate they can attack, use a skill or an item, defend, or run. If you have played a turn-based RPG at some point since the original Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest this should be nothing new.