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.