Think about the RPGs you played back in the late 80s, early 90s. Now combine them all into one mash up of a game for a portable console and you have Nostalgia. I will be clear, it seems this was the intention of the developers, the title refering to a day of RPGs that is long past. Not to say that is necessarily bad, just there is nothing particularly original here.
The story is about as generic as they come. You play Eddie, the son of a famous adventurer in a alternate rendering of the 19th Century Earth. On his most recent trip, your dad disappeared and you have decided that it falls to you to go and find him. You quickly gain a team of adventurers with stereotypical architypes, a tank, a thief, an offensive mage, and a defensive mage. As time goes on you discover nefarious plots to destroy the world. Like I said, it’s not original but for some reason I kept wanting to play and get a little farther in the game. The gameplay is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy X where you can see who is the next person to move and modify it by using skills that change speed. The skills system is simple, skills are either learned by attaining the appropriate level, or leveling prerequisite skills to the right level to unlock them. It kind of reminds me of a license board from Final Fantasy XII.
The world is navigated both on foot, and on your airship, random encounters occuring in both transport methods. I know we are sick of all the references to other games, but this has some striking similarities to Skies of Arcadia. Different characters take over different parts of the ship, which I have to say was something that was a little different, and these battles are often are the most difficult of the game. As time goes on you improve your ship and each time I ascended to a new altitude I was having to avoid fights because it was just too tough. The dungeons are mostly linear, you are not going to get lost though there are 2 or 3 brain teasers that you may get stuck on inside of them. There is also liberal number of side quests where you gain vital levels and equipment for your characters, just do not expect anything too interesting, most of them are variations on the standard fetch quest.
Doing an average number of quests, the game took me just over 30 hours to complete; however for the completionists, there are many quests and at least two dungeons that are not unlocked until after the game is done. The visuals are quite nice for the Nintendo DS, and I found the soundtrack was well customized to reflect the mood of area, though I will admit I got a bit sick of battle music. One request though would have been some simple voice acting, because there is none, sometimes you are just reading through story points. I really enjoyed the use of real places in the game, including the Pyramids, London, Delhi, New York, or Capetown. Just so you Australian gamers know, your continent is pretty much ignored until after the main story is over. I hope you do not take offense.
Overall, if you like RPGs and want to stir up wonderful old memories of games long gone, then I suggest you pick up Nostalgia. It does not do anything particularly new, but it does the fundamentals well, and kept me playing through it. It is an enjoyable time and might just do it right to tide you over until Spirit Tracks comes out next month.