|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Matrix Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Ent.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
With two classic Final Fantasy remakes and the innovative Avalon Code for Nintendo DS under their belt, developer Matrix Software returns once again to the roots of role-playing games. Nostalgia lives up to its name in almost every sense of the word, but do its age-old-gameplay conventions hold up to today's standards?
At the beginning of the tale, you're thrust into the shoes of Gilbert Brown, a renowned adventurer from London. He's on a quest to rescue a young girl, but Brown soon falls to his doom when attempting to make it safely back to his airship. You, therefore, take up the role of Gilbert's son, Eddie, for the duration of the game, and along with a few newfound friends, you set off to save the world from an evil organization known as the Cabal.
Like the remake of Final Fantasy III, Nostalgia's story is paced well, and you'll journey throughout an expansive world. The game takes place is a reimagining of our own, real world, and you'll travel to many known countries, including Egypt, Japan, and Russia. The story itself is pieced together fine, but the writers make too many broad strokes with the characters, with dialogue that is often laughably bad. There are few comical moments, but without a strong story, Nostalgia is forced to lean almost entirely upon its gameplay.
Thankfully, the role-playing elements and combat are tight and polished, and it doesn't hurt that the game is presented with stellar production values. That being said, Nostalgia does little else to distinguish itself as a modern RPG.
Your party will generally consist of four characters, though other key players in the story will often accompany you for long stretches of the game. These extra characters lend support during combat, but you won't have any direct control over them. Battles are turn-based, with the usual selection of options on tap.
Unlike the old-school Final Fantasy games, the classes for your characters are chosen for you in Nostalgia. It's typical fare, really; Eddie's melee, Pad uses guns, Melody is a black mage, and Fiona works her healing magic as a white priestess. Though you're limited in the sense of your characters' vocations throughout the game, there's a neat, little skill tree in place to allow players to build up their characters as they see fit. You'll acquire new skills and spells based on leveling and contextual moments throughout the story, but you can divvy up skill points (SP) any way you like. You're also graded for your performance during combat, and a high ranking at the end of battles will earn you additional experience, SP, and gold.
In addition to traditional combat, you'll engage in airship battles when making your way around the world of Nostalgia. You'll outfit your airship with various types of weaponry and armor, as well as have the opportunity to upgrade its "End" (essentially the ship's health) from time to time. Just like in ordinary battles, each character can man certain types of weapons, and they'll also learn specific skills related to airship combat. This isn't Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast/GCN), however, and for the most part, combat in the air isn't all that different from combat during dungeon-crawls.
If you've already played your share of traditional, turn-based RPGs, most of what Nostalgia has to offer will likely feel like old hat. However, one thing we especially appreciate about the game is the almost pitch-perfect balance. Unlike many other adventures in the genre, you won't be forced to grind for hours on end. Bosses aren't pushovers, but they generally won't take a half hour to beat, either. A single run through a dungeon will usually offer ample opportunity to level your party sufficiently, and the overall experience moves at fairly brisk pace. The only time the game's difficulty jumps around a bit is in the air. When making your way to new parts of the world, it's not uncommon to be greeted by airships and/or flying monsters that feel a bit overpowered.