The thrill of Nostalgia is exploring an alternate Earth where airships and adventurers clash with demons and ancient cabals. This Japanese role-playing game's magical version of 19th-century Earth is packed with daring heroes and powerful evil, and you're thrown into the mix as the young son of a famous adventurer. Unfortunately, the gameplay itself is as archaic as anything from the 19th century. Despite an interesting split between airship-based and on-foot encounters, the simplistic, too-easy combat brings Nostalgia down to earth all too quickly.
Your airship, the Maverick. In addition to guns and cannon, it has a sword on the front.
You play as London native Eddie Brown, son of the famous and suddenly missing adventurer Gilbert Brown. Your first task is to find your father by taking to the skies in his airship, the Maverick. Eddie's barely 16, but he's ready for adventure. He has trained in swordplay since he was a child--he is an adventurer's son, after all. As your search for your father becomes a world-spanning quest against the mysterious Ancient Father's Cabal, more friends join your party. Pad is another young man from London, a quick gunslinger to counter Eddie's strong sword arm. Melody is a young witch, pointy hat and all, and provides magical offense. The last party member is the mysterious Fiona, a healer who doesn't recall anything of her own history--anything other than Eddie's father rescuing her, just before he vanished.
Fiona is the key to capturing mysterious items of power scattered across the world, items the Ancient Father's Cabal is willing to kill for. Your pursuit of these items takes you through the main story arc and around the world. From London, you'll set off for the metropolises of Cairo, St. Petersburg, Delhi, Tokyo, New York, and Rio de Janeiro. Although you start your adventure clearing the sewers of London from a scourge of rats, Nostalgia's ambition is to immerse you into an unimaginably vast and fantastic world. Not long after fighting rats, you're questing through exotic locations like Mount Ararat, the Tower of Babel, and El Dorado, the City of Gold.
There is no traditional overworld, on-foot travel in Nostalgia; when you're not in a city or dungeon, you're in your airship. In the air, each character mans a unique weapon and calls upon a unique skill set, distinct but similar to their on-foot skills. Eddie is your primary damage dealer, Pad is the support and evasion fighter, Melody is the magical attacker, and Fiona is your healer. As you advance through the game, the airship gains the ability to rise up from the default low altitude to medium and high altitudes. The higher you go, the faster you travel and the more types of terrain you can cross. The heavens aren't safe, though. The higher altitudes also harbor more dangerous enemy airships and monsters.
Even boss fights such as this one are disappointingly simple.
Land and air conflicts unfold in turn-based combat. Random encounters scattered across the map plunge you into battle with cultists, alligators, demons, ghosts, and more. There's a delightful variety of enemies available for you to shoot, stab, and magically fry, but it's also in combat that the first cracks in the veneer of Nostalgia's charm start to show. Ground combat is incredibly simplistic and has no meaningful strategy to learn. Enemies don't do enough damage to ever pose much of a threat in a fight, and you make so much money adventuring that you should always have plenty of cheap health and magic potions to heal with between fights. Some enemies can inflict classic status conditions like confusion or paralysis, but it's rarely worth the effort to remove the status condition instead of simply continuing to pound on the enemies. The only skills of import are Eddie's brutal combo attack, his ability to raise attack power, and Fiona's healing. Not even boss fights pose any substantial challenge. There's no real satisfaction to winning fights by simply hitting the attack button often.
Air combat can be more difficult as you get the ability to gain altitude. The damage output of enemies rises drastically when you go from low to medium or medium to high altitude. In addition, the two airship conditions--fire and electrocution--can be devastating. Fire drains a substantial chunk of your hit points during each character's turn, and electrocution simply removes turns from you. But if you prepare for your ascension by buying a higher tier of healing items, combat still ultimately breaks down to your willingness to attack often and heal occasionally. Although there is plenty of combat on foot and in the air, it's all as light and insubstantial as cotton candy.