Nov 162009

Final Status:Story and most low-level side quests complete.

Put This on Your Box: At last, a game that ignores Britain’s long history of brutal aboriginal repression!

Most Intriguing Idea: Evoking the 19th-century adventure novel in a game.

Best Design Decision: Near-ideal implementation of turn-based combat in the ground battles.

Worst Design Decision: Incredibly unbalanced and tedious airship battles.


Nostalgia unapologetically grabs for dated JRPG tropes, and for the most part succeeds in creating a pleasant experience. We have a chipper sword-wielding teen with spiky blond hair, a demure teenage girl with magic powers and amnesia, and two spunky orphans, all out to save the world from… well, it’s a JRPG, so the story doesn’t make much sense anyway. This time the hash is made with an inappropriate fusion of Norse and Greek mythologies, if you’re keeping score. Battles proceed using a turn-based system similar to Final Fantasy X. The system is sharp, transparent, and perfectly executed (graphically appealing too: this is a quality game).

On the ground, the difficulty curve is quite gentle and the battles are mostly easy. Even if you never take a single side-quest you will probably be perfectly prepared (or even over-leveled) when the end of the main story comes. The aerial battles are another matter: they are brutally difficult and often unwinnable. Players will frequently find themselves unable to either hit the enemy ship at all, or to escape. When victory can be achieved, it can sometimes take up to ten minutes to whittle down the massive life bars of enemy airships. Even at low altitudes, relatively frequent encounters with enemies that totally outclass the player’s own Maverick airship occur well into the game, forcing frequent reloads.

Nostalgia also appears to have the warm fuzzies for the British Imperium, but not a lot of time to spend on acknowledging what that meant for people who weren’t white. To an extent this is excusable because the whole goal here is to evoke the feel of a Victorian adventure novel (the hero’s parents have separate bedrooms), but it adds to the sense that this game is out of date — in this case, by at least a century.

If you can’t say something nice… When it stays on the ground, Nostalgiais a fun little romp evoking pleasant memories of JRPGs past.

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