Nostalgia's motley crew.
Back in my day, we didn't have these fancy 3D graphics and super-complicated battle systems. We made do with tiny sprites and battles where your only options were to attack or not attack, and that's the way we liked it! We had to walk uphill both ways in four feet of snow during a blizzard just to get to get the latest release. Gamers these days are so spoiled, but thankfully there's finally a game coming out that harkens back to the good old days, when gamers were real gamers.
Obviously, the entire previous paragraph is a gigantic lie, but it's hard not to start an impression for a game called Nostalgia without thinking about the past. And Nostalgia isn't just a clever name; the game does evoke feelings of older times in many ways. While it has the shiny graphical coat of the modern era, the entire game feels very much like something you might have played on the SNES fifteen years ago.
I was able to play a bit of Nostalgia from the very start of the game. It begins with Gilbert, an adventurer, saving an unknown girl in some ruins from assailants. When trying to jump back on his airship, he doesn't quite make it and falls, disappearing. The game then switches to the main character, Gilbert's son Edward, who decides to become an adventurer and search for his father.
The airship is as much a part of combat as the party.
The game's old-school charm becomes immediately apparent, as when attempting to join the Adventurer's Guild, Edward is required to complete a test: to kill a monster rat in the sewers beneath London. This delightful RPG cliché is the first bit of gameplay Nostalgia provides. Once you get down into the sewers, I was able to fight a few random encounters, which I can thankfully say were not an overbearingly common occurance.
The combat is a delightfully simple turn-based system which is thankfully very easy to work with. All the combat information is displayed on the bottom screen, including turn order, while the top screen shows the characters and highlights the targeted enemy. Each character also has a skill tree to explore, though we weren't able to get very into that. The various skills cost SP, earned after each battle, to improve, and it seems as though new skills are unlocked partly by improving existing skills, and partly through leveling up.
The game's mini-map is also quite solid. It auto-maps as you explore, and has many helpful icons to point out important places such as dungeon exits, points of interest, shops, or pubs. After meeting a gunslinger named Pad and leaving the sewers, we gained access to the airship and world map. The world map cannot actually be explored outside the airship, which is an interesting twist on the usual RPG formula. You also get into random encounters while flying, which are battled using the ship. These battles play out pretty much the same as with normal battles, except each character has an element of the ship they use to fight. Edward, a swordsman, makes use of the giant blade at the front of the ship, while Pad, a gunman, has a ship-board machine gun he fires.
After landing in Cairo, I had to put down the game, but I was quite impressed with what I saw. The graphics are beautiful, but of note is that the texturing seems a bit softer than Matrix's last game Avalon Code. There aren't as many details in the textures, but they look smoother and as a result there's less pixelization in the models. The whole game feels very much familiar and enjoyable; something that any classic RPGamer should have no problem getting into. Ignition also showed us an artbook/soundtrack bundle that was made available with the game in Japan. We don't know yet if this will be made available in North America, but we can certainly hope.