STAFF REVIEW of Kingdom Eighties (Xbox One)

Monday, January 8, 2024.
by Peggy Doyle

Kingdom Eighties Box art As a self-proclaimed Queen of the ‘80s, how could I not be interested in a game called Kingdom Eighties? Developed by Fury Studios and published by Raw Fury, this retro-inspired micro-strategy adventure game is full of nostalgic tropes and retro gameplay. This is the latest in the series of Kingdom games, but I haven’t played any of the previous, so I am unable to make comparisons to them.

You take on the role of “The Leader”, a camp counsellor in a fictitious town in ‘80s America. The town is under attack from monsters called The Greed, and it’s up to you, a couple of friends, and a ragtag group of kids to defend the camp and surrounding town. Your camp is represented by a campfire and even though The Greed can break through your defences, as long as that fire is safe, you’re fine. The story is highly influenced by the kid-driven movies of the ‘80s and can be compared to modern shows that take place in the ‘80s, like Stranger Things. The characters are clear archetypes, The Leader, The Champ (jock), The Tinkerer, and the Wiz. They all jump on their bikes and it all works really well in this story where there is no real dialogue or narrative.

Although a simple side scroller at first glance, your town in each level is so great in size that you will get winded if you try to sprint on your bike from one end to the other. Money to build bigger fortifications for your town is earned by hiring kids to do chores. These will range from picking berries, selling lemonade and pizza, and even lifeguard duties. There was something rather strange but gratifying about tossing coins to random kids as I biked past them, and they just joined my group. As they do these chores and join your group, they will also help defend or build if needed.

Paying to add a bow or hammer gives some of the kids a defined job. Archers will hunt animals or defend; builders will take down trees and build defences. All of the kids move independently across the level doing chores and engaging in activities (like playing video games at the arcade), but builders will prioritize whatever you activate for them. You will need to earn a lot of coins to upgrade everything fully, the biggest investment being the Headquarters building, which must be upgraded multiple times in order to expand and open certain options on each level. Expanding your town's defences in both directions will require you to also destroy portals where The Greed come from.

As you move through the levels, The Greed’s minions become stronger and more determined to break down your barriers. Each level has its own distinct town feel but the mechanics are relatively unchanged as you move through them. As you move through the levels your friends will learn to activate robots and laser guns to help defend, and your Champ friend will move a garbage dumpster to be used as the barricade to help you and your band of kids when tackling the boss in each level.

Your status is shown with a small gold crown, and if The Greed manages to steal your crown and get back to their base, your journey ends and you must restart the level. Prepare your defences, have enough kids following you and they’ll keep you and your crown safe. One of my favourite things in each level was finding the new upgraded rides for my Leader character. You can find multiple types of bikes, a mini monster truck, and even a DeLorean. My favourite was the skateboard though. There are so many Easter Eggs in Kingdom Eighties with nods to the likes of E.T., Back to the Future, Gremlins etc.

I only really ran into one problem while playing Kingdom Eighties, and that was when I was trying to activate certain things. Some items and activities slightly overlap one another, and I would often end up spending coins accidentally swapping a transportation mode when I was trying to activate a turret that was close by.

The pixel art of Kingdom Eighties was a perfect choice, and the soundtrack was full of the synth sounds that made the ‘80s iconic for me. Riding past the arcade at night was full of the bright colours and sounds you’d expect, completed with the coins dropping. It has a nice flow, and the day/night sequences allow for different types of activities and encounters.

Kingdom Eighties is about the journey, not the challenging gameplay. The controls are pretty simple and once you get the hang of the gameplay you can speed through the last couple of levels if you choose to. The mechanics kept me interested even if I wasn’t entirely sure what the overall story was most of the time. It was a quick playthrough with only four levels, and I enjoyed the touch of nostalgia that reminded me of the ‘80s. At a great price point of under $15 CDN, I think the value is there for the amount of time I played.

Although I wish Kingdom Eighties was longer, I’m a sucker for anything ‘80s, and the nostalgia in Kingdom Eighties is enough for me to recommend this to others.

**Kingdom Eighties was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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