Nostalgia Review (DS)

Nostalgia for the Nintendo DS is an turn based RPG that mixes modern and retro elements to create a game that compliments the old style of video games, while mixing in some modern elements to avoid immediate frustration. Unfortunately, Nostalgia takes elements we don't like in retro RPGs, making some of the mechanics feel archaic, ultimately killing the experience.

The setting for Nostalgia is basically a nineteenth century/futuristic/fantasy/modern style earth. A land where airships are used for transportation, pirates attack others for no reason what-so-ever, monsters are everywhere, characters have as much depth as the nameless characters from most old school RPGs, and every word to come out of a characters mouth is cheesy, unnecessary, and laughable. The game follows the story of adventurer Eddie Brown, a kid who is trying to find his father. So he immediately goes on his airship, the The Maverick and sets out looking for him, joined by Pad, a bad ass warrior who is as shallow as everyone else in the game, but actually has the sense to bring guns on the adventure. During the course of the game, you will find more characters to join your party, but they are as interesting as the old testament.

The game has you fighting monsters using basic turn based action, going through dungeons, flying an airship, going on side quests, acquiring experience points, and gaining and upgrading skills using skill points. In the end, it's nothing new since all of these elements have been copied in hundreds upon hundreds of RPG's. That aside, everything is done solidly, it's just a shame that they couldn't "mix it up".

The visual style is very pretty, mixing fantasy and 19th century Victorian style structures. Character models look a lot like the characters in the Final Fantasy remakes, cartoony. More polish is needed however, since during cut scenes, a ridiculous amounts of awkward animations occur, whether it be that characters are moving either way to fast or slow, or the camera seems to have trouble keeping up with the action inside the cut scenes, probably due to the camera itself having Parkinson's.

The element that kills the game for me is the random battles, which make the game an endless grind that seems to make the experience painful. Tumors grow in my head when I have been in a dungeon for over 2 hours, due to random battles that appear frequently. God forbid you actually die, you will have to start over from the beginning, making a rise in tempers and damaged DS systems. Dying isn't really an issue though, since the first half of the game is so damn easy! When you reach the half point mark, the game not only becomes crazy in it's difficulty level, but actually makes the regular enemies harder than the bosses itself. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING! By the end of this game, your DS won't survive the beating you will give it due to immense frustration.

Combat is extremely simple and repetitive, since the only strategy would be mash the attack button in order to deplete the enemy's health. The enemies aren't really smart either, clearly indicated when an enemy tries to poison an already poisoned ally for the nth time. Escaping from battle is probably and option that most users will find to be a necessity if they are ever to finish a simple quest. However, the further you get into the game, the more abilities you are allowed to have and upgrade, putting some variety in the gameplay. Unfortunately, they use so much MP, that you will probably need to use many MP recovery potions before you can reek havoc among the enemies.

Nostalgia isn't a bad RPG, it just does something that is unnecessary. Too many games are basic turn based RPG dungeon crawlers, resulting in the demand for the games to be very low. Why they took the retro theme way too far is beyond me, but archaic mechanics aside, I enjoyed Nostalgia. While I was definitely frustrated at times, the game offers a solid (if simple) turn based RPG, and fans of retro gaming will enjoy this experience. Those looking for innovation and an outstanding RPG such as Final Fantasy IV will want to avoid this like the plague, since it offers nothing new to contribute and lacks the depth of most games in this genre.

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