An aptly-named role-playing game
Nostalgia is an old-school turn-based role-playing game that is somewhat reminiscent of the Dragon Quest games. It concerns the exploits of a teenager named Eddie, who is searching for his missing father, and his friends, who each find their own significance in a larger, predictably world-saving plot. While suffering the same kinds of flaws that a game of this genre normally does, Nostalgia proves itself to be a fun and engaging role-playing romp with likable characters and lots to see and do. The battle system, while fairly standardized, has its own quirks that keep combat fresh.
Exploration is divided between towns and dungeons, while overworld traversal takes place on a customizable dirigible. Since the game takes place on a steampunk version of Earth, you'll be flying from continent to continent, often touching down in familiar locales such as London and New York. Towns are littered with standard RPG locales, such as the local armor and weapon shops, inns, and pubs. New to the scene are airship docks, where you can buy and equip new components for your zeppelin, and Adventurer Association branches, where you can pick up side quests. The Adventures Association, centralizes all your side quests — you don't have to wander around looking for people. However, I will save you some trouble: whenever a quest summary includes talking to a person, be sure to talk to the person before going on the quest. The quest itself will not trigger until you make contact with the relevant NPC.
Dungeons are laid out as mazes with multiple floors, lots of monsters, and treasure chests scattered around. Many side quests take you back into completed dungeons, which is useful for level-grinding. Leveling up is quite natural and occurs with surprising frequency. Battles are traditional menu-based affairs. Handily, your characters' stats are displayed on the lower screen, as is a turn order that displays who will go next during the fight. This is especially handy for setting up stat boosts, item usage, and healing spells. Magic attacks — "skills" here — take center stage as their use is encouraged in battles and honed outside of it. Whenever you level up, you gain a certain amount of skill points that are shared between all characters. These points can be allocated to magic attacks in order to level them up. In this way, you can tailor your character's attacks to your preferred fighting method.
Airship battles are more interesting. Each character mans a specific weapon on the ship, and can cast their own airship-based magic attacks. Enemies can attack from three directions, but some weapons, such as the cannon, can only attack in certain directions. Enemies can also change which direction they attack from, but you cannot. In general, airship battles are more strategic than dungeon fights, and they are more enjoyable than the standard fare.
The graphics are 3D, and they look very good. The aesthetic is similar to that of the DS remakes of Dragon Quest 3 and 4, which is not surprising considering they were developed by the same team (Matrix Software). The characters animate well, but there's a certain emotional void in their unchanging expressions. The environments are impressively large, but there's plenty of fog in the overworld to obscure pop-up, which still occurs. The music is good but not memorable, and it's jarring to read scrolling text without any sort of sound cue. If you're not paying attention, it's easy to lose track of who's talking during a scene of dialogue.
Nostalgia is a classic RPG with enough tweaks to make it feel new, and it's very enjoyable because of that. It's a no-brainer if you like the genre, and even newcomers will find something to like.