|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Matrix Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Ent.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The dungeons themselves are designed to be a tad more interesting than the usual RPG fare, with a few simple puzzle elements and traps that help to keep things interesting. Zelda this is not - but exploring the world of Nostalgia is fun and often exciting. One of the drawbacks of the more complex dungeon design, however, is that you'll constantly get stopped by random encounters when simply trying to find your way around. This is, without a doubt, the most frustrating element of the game, and it's a constant reminder of just how far along RPGs have come over the years.
In spite of its decidedly antiquated composition, there's plenty to do and see in Nostalgia. The main adventure is a respectable length for a handheld RPG, and there are tons of optional missions to pick up along the way. Each non-playable character has some unique tidbit of information to offer, and there are hidden items in almost every nook and cranny of the world.
Additionally, there's an incredible attention to detail in terms of the user interface. Though there are no DS-specific gameplay elements of note, the developers make great use of the system's real estate. There is an attractive map system that displays each area of the world, and easy-to-use menu options, as well as an indicator that displays the order of turns for each character and opponent during battle, serve to streamline the experience nicely. Our only minor quibble with respect to the menu system is that selling items could have been made a bit easier.
Visually, Nostalgia is another stunning production by a developer who really knows how to maximize this particular hardware. Folks who've played either of the Final Fantasy remakes for DS will instantly recognize the signature style, and it's one that works incredibly well on the dual screen. Matrix has actually managed to one-up themselves, though, with more detailed and luxurious environments, as well as plenty of breathtaking variety. There are minor bouts of slowdown, but they're rare and have no real effect on gameplay. Top to bottom, Nostalgia is a great-looking game.
Meeting the graphics right in the middle is a wonderful soundtrack, conspicuously influenced by many Square Enix classics. Themes are moving, oftentimes playful, and always topnotch. However, in terms of the game's audio, the sound effects definitely take center stage here. The old-fashioned motif might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's served up quite elegantly. Everything from the simple clicking of gears when choosing battle options, to the explosions heard when a ship falls in battle - the aural elements add a wealth of personality to the adventure.
If you're someone who feels RPGs have strayed too far from what once made them great, Nostalgia is a gift to you from Ignition Entertainment and Matrix Software. It's very straightforward, closely cropped, and there's almost nothing of innovation to be found here. It is, however, a refined product with rock-solid gameplay that will last a good, long while. If you're in it for the story, this probably isn't the adventure for you. But folks looking to take a ride aboard a well-oiled machine will do well to check the game out.
CCC Freelance Writer