Evoking "nostalgia" is one of those deliberate design decisions that leverages the average player's trope-recognition skills to communicate information about game mechanics that would otherwise be much more difficult.
This is a common design pattern across all UX fields - there's often a value to using the "default" or "common" implementation of a design element, even if it's not strictly the most effective, since you can side-step the learning process (a big drag on your engagement rate).
Of course there are higher-level concepts that can be communicated by nostalgic visuals as well as nostalgic mechanics. Patterns of play are often common across games that look visually similar - in part this is a self-reinforcing cycle because common solutions are arrived at independently because they are effective, while there is also a drive to copy common elements.
Relying on tropes has its own pitfalls - the article mentions how nostalgia has the potential to alienate new players - but in game design as in any other UX field, evoking tropes as cognitive shortcuts is as valid a tool as any other.
But your mechanical choices can factor in to a game's ability to play on nostalgia as well. I grew up playing Japanese RPGs on the Playstation, so when I play a game like Ni No Kuni or Bravely Default I feel a strong pull of nostalgia. The simple act of having the screen swirl and place me on a separate battle map ticks a comfort box inside my brain. Line up my characters down one side of the screen, the enemies down the other, present me with a multiple choice menu and I've already settled into comfortable battle rhythm. I know this formula, I know these mechanics, so I'm able to relax. The design and structure of your game can have a similar effect. Put me in front of an impassable object with a clear indication that I don't yet possess the gear required to advance and I recognise the structure of a Metroidvania-style game. My familiarity with and recognition of this formula influences how I will continue to play the game. Now that I know what to expect I'll switch my pacing accordingly, taking more time to explore and getting less frustrated at my inability to make straightforward progress.