Aside from being a Soulslike that loudly and proudly wears its inspiration from the Dark Souls series by FromSoftwear on its sleeve, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is also jam-packed with many references and nods to other popular game series. Almost every new area you stumble into or piece of equipment you gather will likely be a nod to something.
The best thing about the references found in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is that they’re almost all cleverly done, making you appreciate making the connection more than just getting beat over the head with them. Anything from complete sets of armor to weapons to locations will have nods, making the world of Nostalgaia feel, well, nostalgic.
7/7 Rainbow Road
One of the best moments in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is when the Narrator suddenly summons an enormous rainbow bridge and then sends a train across it, catching you off guard. However, there’s more to this bridge than meets the eye.
This rainbow bridge is actually a direct reference to Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road stage, which is confirmed by the fact that you can Remember the Shellter shield on it, which turns it into the Blue Shell item from the game. We all know that Rainbow Road is the most rage-inducing stage in the series, and the Blue Shell is a horrifyingly powerful item, so it makes sense to include both of these into a Soulslike about nostalgia.
6/7 Cloud’s Buster Sword
Next is the Bucko Blade in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia, which is quite literally Cloud’s iconic Buster Sword from Final Fantasy 7, complete with Materia slots and all. When first picking this sword up, its icon doesn’t necessarily scream “Buster Sword,” so many probably won’t even equip it, especially considering it’s a cumbersome weapon.
But, if you were wise enough to equip one of the best weapons in the game, you would be pleasantly surprised when you see the Buster Sword in all its glory on your shoulder. Not only does this sword look the part, but it also plays the part and dishes out unreal amounts of damage, teleporting yourself back to the good ol’ days when you were clearing out waves of Shinra Security Forces.
5/7 Scrooge McDuck
After taking down The Grinder, you will come across a large vault where gold, jewelry, and other riches are stored, along with prisoners for whatever reason. Before entering the vault, look to the left of the vault door to see a picture of DuckTales’ Scrooge McDuck hanging on the wall.
Seeing Scrooge McDuck in a Soulslike is shocking, sure, but we love it all the same. His excellent pogo-sticking attacks and traversal in the DuckTales games are still fun to execute, and this nod hit us in the face with nostalgia, making us want to dive right back into the timeless classics once more. Woo-ooh!
4/7 Isaac Clarke
Towards the middle of your playthrough, you will stumble upon an armor set named “Forgottenspace,” which won’t ring any bells immediately. While the icons give a more significant hint, you won’t recognize that this set is Isaac Clarke’s armor from the Dead Space series.
With the Dead Space remake coming up very soon, it’s nice to see a reference to one of the best survival horror games of all time make its way into the nostalgia-packed world in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia. Isaac and his armor are as iconic as it gets, and being able to rock it as you take down towering bosses is a treat.
3/7 Master Chief
Keeping in line with the last entry, this next one is the Master Chef’s armor set, which directly references Master Chief’s iconic Mjolnir Armor from the Halo series. You will get this set relatively early on, but it’s incredibly cumbersome, so most won’t run with it or even bother equipping it at that point.
Even if the name and icons make it a tad obvious, seeing the complete set is awesome. It’s not a 1:1 of the classic armor set like the Dead Space set is, but it still serves its purpose and executes its design and goal. Halo may be in a rough spot right now, but you can live out your Master Chief fantasies in a dark, pixelated world until the ship gets righted.
2/7 Executioner Smough
Moving onto our penultimate entry, we have Gnom, the game’s third boss encounter, who looks a tad bit familiar to one of the best Soulsborne bosses of all time, Executioner Smough. Despite looking like Smough, this encounter is exceptionally different, omitting his fighting partner Dragon Slayer Ornstein and performing wild, sporadic dance moves instead.
Gnom is arguably the hardest boss encounter in the game, which is very fitting, as the same can be said about the Ornstein and Smough boss fight in Dark Souls. While this encounter isn’t nearly as epic or demanding, it’s still a blast and even has a few twists up its sleeves to double down on the nod.
1/7 Guitar Hero
Last and certainly not least is our personal favorite reference, and that’s the Lute Hero’s Loot. This weapon is fun in its own right, but once you equip and inspect it further, that’s when the magic happens. The Lute Hero’s Loot is actually a Guitar Hero controller, but with a lute instead, and is complete with a strum bar and the classic Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Orange buttons to top it off.
Guitar Hero might be dead and gone, but in the world of Nostalgaia, everything you ever had a fond memory of appears to be included for you to stumble upon and enjoy. Become the legend of lutes with this bizarrely cool weapon and don’t forget to whammy the long notes!