Nostalgia Impressions

This Japanese RPG looks longingly into the past.

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The role-playing games just keep coming on the Nintendo DS, and the newest one that we heard about at E3 2009 was Nostalgia, an old-fashioned Japanese RPG all about adventure, friendship, and love. Oh, and it's about airships too, which can't possibly be a bad thing. We received a short rundown of the game behind closed doors at Ignition Entertainment's booth, and we're here to report on our findings.

Who's Making This Game: Nostalgia is a joint project being developed by Red Entertainment and Matrix Software. Red's games are most well known in Japan, though Sakura Taisen is known among some American RPG fans. Matrix Software is best known for its DS remakes of Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV, as well as the recently released Avalon Code. Expect to see 3D visuals reminiscent of all three of these games.

What the Game Looks Like: We saw practically no gameplay, though the glimpses that we had involved airship travel. All overworld travel occurs in your flying ship.

What There Is to Do: Nostalgia is an old-fashioned Japanese RPG, but with an interesting hook: It takes place in our own world, in the 19th century, and features real-world locations. Some of these locales include New York, London, Tokyo, Egypt, and others. Your adventure starts when the main character's father Eddie, an Indiana Jones-type explorer, goes missing. You'll explore cities and dungeons, fight big bosses, and visit guilds to take on odd jobs. Not only will you battle enemies on the ground, but you'll also take on flying enemies in your airship.

How the Game Is Played: Ground combat is familiar to anyone who's played a Japanese RPG: Each party member will take a turn bashing on foes. The real hook here is airship combat. Airships are outfitted with three different types of weapons: blades, cannons, and lasers. Party members operate different weapons when in flight, and different party members bring varying strengths and weaknesses. When flying across the map, you can stay low, which means that you'll face weaker enemies but it will take a while to get to your destination. Or you can fly high in the air, which will get you to your destination more quickly, but means that you'll encounter stronger foes. In the meantime, you'll level up using a system similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid. Characters will not be assigned any specific job, and you will also level up your airship as if it's a character in and of itself.

What They Say: Nostalgia is a light, adventurous RPG that recalls older games such as Skies of Arcadia.

What We Say: It's impossible to tell. We saw so little gameplay, it's tough to get a feel for Nostalgia.

Nonetheless, we love the idea of leveling up your mode of transportation just like it's a party member. We don't have that long to wait to see the game in action: Nostalgia will be released in North America in September 2009.

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