Nostalgia is an interesting-looking RPG for the Nintendo DS. Combining steampunk with traditional JRPG styles, the game shifts the nature of RPG combat just a little and has you exploring an interesting take on the world in the late 19th century. Naturally, it's designed to be nostalgic for many RPG fans indeed.
The basic story casts you as a finely dressed young lad whose father was apparently has disappeared; during my time with the game, the exact details aren't yet made clear to the player. Like his father, he has chosen to take to the skies of Arcadia, joining up with the crew of a good old-fashioned zeppelin, using his own sword and his skills as a pilot to face off against various supernatural threats of as-yet unclear overall nature, in a somewhat alternate-universe planet Earth.
The game gets interesting mostly in one major element of its combat. Much of the time, you will be fighting in the skies and using the weapons of your Zeppelin. Party members still get individual turns, but now it represents which weapon they are manning. The lead character simply rams enemies with the ship's blade, while his allies man two different gun types or throw spells at enemy ships and monsters. Each character, in addition to his special skills, has two basic attacks with each weapon, such as focused or spread fire with the ship's machine gun to hit all enemies on one side of your ship. Enemies will show up on three sides of the ship, adding just a hint of applied complexity, but certainly looking pretty impressive. The biggest difference, though, is that in Zeppelin combat, you have exactly one life bar to worry about, which, in practice, is simpler and much more harrowing than standard multi-character RPG play.
The combat is made a little more interesting by using a turn system that will be highly familiar to players of Phantom Brave; you know the next five characters who will be moving, allowing for a fair amount of planning ahead. The combat I experienced was a tad too simple to take advantage of this, so hopefully, the game's battles will be more interesting in the final version.
What I saw of the story line felt pretty compelling, and the game certainly looks great. Then again, Matrix Software is the team that has remade Final Fantasy III and IV for the DS, so it's not as if they lack experience. The game's sense of style, combined with excellent use of textures to provide detail without pushing a bunch of polygons, produce a very nice nostalgic look that takes advantage of the DS' limitations nicely.Ignition Entertainment's certainly got an epic look going with Nostalgia, with every element hearkening back to classics but combining to create something very new. I'm certainly looking forward to the complete release of this game in September.
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