After ten years of planning, Nostalgia finally made it to North America. Since Nostalgia took so long to develop we asked Naoki Morita, Project Director at Red Entertainment, to look back and tell us more about the game’s development cycle.
What goals did you have in mind while designing Nostalgia?
Naoki Morita, Project Director: I aimed to make it a classic RPG. I paid careful attention to the feeling of excitement when they, in their youth, read adventurous novels or played RPG games for the first time. Then, I needed to make its world, plot and game design something that anyone can sympathize with and didn’t want to make it end up as a self-contented title by creators.
Why did you choose our Earth as Nostalgia’s setting instead of creating a new world to explore like most RPGs?
When I thought about RPG game in which users can travel the world on airships, I found it’s much better to have the settings on actual Earth than in a fictional world since it’s easier for the users to feel closer to the adventure and the experience of travelling the world.
Don’t you feel it’s quite ordinary when you find something new in a fictional world? However, in this world, the one we live in, there are many places that we have never seen or visited before. I wanted to depict the greatness of this actual Earth in this game.
It was so challenging to depict the world of 19th century authentically and express the difference of each culture on graphics, text and music. since the game is based on reality, I had to take care so users don’t feel uncomfortable, but also needed to keep it as a game- entertainment – at the same time.
Were there any elements you wish you could have added to the game?
In Nostalgia, I am confident we have accomplished almost everything we wanted. Of course, I would say I wanted to have more cities and ancient monument in the game, taking advantage of the settings of actual Earth. Anyway, I’m so satisfied with our work since we’ve done until it got almost full in the volume.
About other events like the climate change, traveling part with airship or natural phenomenon, I had a bit more things I wanted to, but this game could have been too complicated, if I had done that.
Is Gilbert… based off Indiana Jones?
I don’t know why but I have been asked this question many times. Actually I really didn’t think about Indiana Jones so much. I think not only Indiana Jones, but everything I have seen and experienced in my life inspired me a lot.
More importantly, I paid careful attention to make the character is easy to understand for anyone. My basic standpoint of creating something is not to betray the user’s expectation. So, the father character of the hero has a style which enables us to recognize at one glance that he is an adventurer.
What inspired the design of the all-sides airship battle system?
The airship battle system was achieved through repeated discussion and fixing to finally become what it is now. Our development team had an idea of taking full advantage of the skies, and then we constructed the current style of battle in which the enemies appear from three different directions, unlike the ordinary face-to-face battle on the ground.
The situation of shooting each other with cannons while moving side-by-side on airships is really animation-like and it showcases the uniqueness of airships.
Space is planar in dungeons while it’s spherical in the air. Additionally, we didn’t want to make it complicated because the battles in dungeons take place more frequently than in the air. In dungeon battles, it is much easier for users to consider strategic battles depending on the ability of each character and deciding battle orders of them than caring about where the enemies show up.
The art documents collection stated Yoshiteru Tsujino, Character Designer, was working on illustrations for Nostalgia continuously for more than ten years. What kept Nostalgia’s development on hold and what other platforms were you considering Nostalgia for?
I and Mr. Tsujino had the idea of Nostalgia more the ten years ago, but since we were focusing on the world-view, characters, and plot, we were not considering the game design. Also, we were working on other titles at that time and had no time-it’s one realistic reason, and another reason is that we really wanted to depict the world with 3D and the spec of hardware at that time was not enough to achieve it.
How has the game changed over the years?
I think the essential part hasn’t changed at all. Of course, with taking advantage of the progress of hardware and development technology, what we can do has expanded, but its basic concept that anyone can enjoy the adventure has remained same. It is like adventure novels that people imagined when they were child, and like making the dream of flying the world on self-made airships come true. After a decade, it’s still shining since we created the plot and characters in traditional way, not in current style.
I feel the story and system of many games are getting too complicated now. I thought it would be a good chance to release a game like Nostalgia because its classic elements will be appealing to many people and people can sympathize with it. Also, since we are in such this fast paced, digital time, I was sure that this game can be something attractive by depicting the dream, hope, bond, and adventures.
Of course, I thank Tecmo who has shared the same goal and worked together in long time.
We decided to create our game for DS in the beginning because it has a most broad demographic and I really wanted to have many people enjoy it. DS is a good hardware that anyone can enjoy casually like reading books, and I think it is a best platform for Nostalgia with adventurous novel style.
It’s interesting that the title of the game is Nostalgia since the game’s mechanics feel nostalgic, almost like a 16-bit RPG with 3D graphics. It seems like other RPG developers are trying to evolving from classic RPG game design while Nostalgia embraces it. How come you went back to the basics?
As a developer, I’m always seeking new graphics, game design and at the same time I pay attention not to lose the fact that game is game which should be fun in the beginning. Sometimes we focus on that aspect too much, and we tend to forget about it. Providing something new and fun experience is always our mission, but it can be ego by creators to users.
We designed this game based on the concept of classic RPG on purpose because we really think it’s fun and we really would like to convey that fact to audience. It means that users make themselves the hero and explore the world in the game by themselves, come across many people on their way to solve many mysteries. To achieve this, we picked up whatever necessary and pack them up into the game with most advanced technologies. Nostalgia is a new game, but nostalgic as well at same time.
Since Nostalgia has a classic feel why did you decide to use 3D graphics instead of detailed sprites?
I think 3D has a broader power of expression. Especially in dynamic camera works like animation or cut works, 3D works more effectively than sprites. Also, Matrix Software has an excellent skill in 3D graphic on DS, so we had decided to use 3D.
Do you have any closing reflections you would like to share about Nostalgia?
It’s really exciting for me that Nostalgia was released in North America. We really pursued the fun and joy that many classic RPG used to have, which were packed with many wonderful elements such as a various adventures, mysteries, and attractive characters.
Adults can enjoy it as remembering their childhood, and kids can feel the greatness of the Earth and the infinite possibility of their future. I will be so glad if many people can enjoy this adventure story. There is nothing above those for me.