Nostalgia Review

Mastering the role-playing genre is a challenge that few are suited to tackle. Unfortunately, most JRPGs that have been released recently are testament to this. We’ve played through the exact same scenarios countless times. And to what end? We usually end up wishing that the RPG of the day were more like ones that we played in our formative years… more like the ones we love and can’t quite forget. In this, we tend to get a little nostalgic. Thus, Nostalgia, a spectacular RPG for the Nintendo DS, was born. While it doesn’t deviate from the norm as far as standard RPG cliches go, it’s teeming with personality and exuberance. It may not reinvent the genre, but its earnesty certainly does it a lot of favors in recalling those warm feelings of happiness and excitement when we first delved into the genre. It’s cheerful, simple, and entertaining. And I’m hoping to see a sequel.

Step into the shoes of the young Eddie Brown, aspiring adventurer. His father, the celebrated Gilbert Brown, has suddenly gone missing after a brief expository cutscene at the beginning of the game. Even though Eddie’s still green at the age of sixteen, he’s determined to follow in his father’s footsteps, and hopefully pinpoint the lost hero’s whereabouts. However, as is the case with simple journeys, this trip turns into something much more complicated. Eddie is joined by fellow Londonite Pad, a young witch named Melody, and an amnesiac healer by the name of Fiona, who can recall one crystal clear detail: Eddie’s father saved her life.


In pursuit of the mythical forces that kidnapped Eddie’s father, you will take this ragtag bunch around the globe, visiting exotic, real-life locations such as Tokyo, New York, London, and Cairo in order to discover hidden items of treasure and intrigue that Gilbert’s captors would risk life and limb to recover. Though you begin with such humble means in London as a neophyte adventurer, you’re soon pulled into an adventure of epic proportions.

Nostalgia is a traditional RPG in the truest sense of the word. You’ll level-grind, quest for riches, and carry out quests all in the name of the greater good — getting your father back and thwarting the plans of a certain secret organization along the way. You’ll earn money for newer equipment and weapons, new skills, and you’ll level up. While you might assume there’s a typical overworld available to explore, you’re wrong! Surprise! There’s no overworld to get lost in, er, traverse. Instead, you’ll travel via the Maverick, the airship previously belonging to Eddie’s father.

While you’ll still be battling in dungeons and subsequent different locations, your main mode of transport will be the majestic Maverick. Yes, even traveling in an airship will present challenges. Your party’s skill sets will be changed to reflect their in-air combat prowess, and as you progress through the game the Maverick will be able to rise higher and higher into the sky, able to pass different types of land below. Careful, though — the higher you go, the higher difficulty your foes will present. Airship status effects come into play and force you to alter your strategy a bit by compensating for Fire (similar to poison in that it saps life away) and Electrocution (fewer turns in battle). There is a higher difficulty curve in air combat, but it’s one I was happy to go along with. And there’s no shortage of monsters. Whether you’re traveling by foot or by air, throughout the sprawling storyline you’ll face many kinds of different foes, such as reptiles, ghosts, rats, and plenty more colorful beasts.


Unfortunately, one caveat to Nostalgia is that its combat can be painfully easy at times, especially if you grind enough to reach a level where foes just can’t touch you, or if you experiment successfully with the skill grid. You’ll unlock special skills, attacks, magical spells, and various other abilities within the grid, much like Final Fantasy X‘s upgrade system. It’s great fun to pour your hard-earned skill points into beefing up your party substantially, but it also plays a part in making Nostalgia so much easier than it should be.

If combat and the intriguing storyline began to wear thin on your nerves though, thankfully Adventurer’s Guilds placed throughout a good portion of the game’s locations should provide some entertaining diversions. In the guilds you can quest for pay. As an Adventurer, you can take on tasks to complete for cold, hard cash, or several different types of rewards. They’re entirely optional to complete, but tackling them gives you an excuse to hoard more money and lord over your foes (if you’re into reigning supreme over the baddies). It’s too bad that a glut of the quests see you running headlong into the same dungeons over and over again, performing some of the same tasks. The idea had some potential, but ultimately squanders what could have been in order to make your quest a bit easier. In the wide scope of things it’s acceptable, but it would have been interesting to have been assigned something more interesting than fetch quests or exterminations.

Luckily, Nostalgia looks and plays fantastically. It’s a pet project from the very same team responsible for the venerable Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV DS remakes, so you should know what to expect in terms of sprightly, innocent 3D models. Lilting and peppy orchestral movements, as well as unique battle and “danger” themes complement the game’s “adventurous” motifs well, and it was a pleasure to hum the battle theme while breezing through dungeons.

Nostalgia should net you 20+ hours of gameplay, and that’s at the bare minimum. There’s absolutely nothing here that you haven’t seen before, and while normally I would balk at such sameness, there’s an underlying charm here that I can’t quite turn away from. In its simplicity there is a sort of calm that I haven’t found in other RPGs as of late — a soul that reminds me why I enjoy the genre to begin with. It’s simple, short, and it’s sweet. And just like recent heavy-hitter Modern Warfare 2 has shown us, sometimes that’s all you need to provide a great experience, no matter the genre.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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