I am extremely a child of the ’80s, and as such I’ve been really digging the ’80s retro-revival that’s been happening for the past several years. Synth wave tunes, neon colors, homages to Saturday morning cartoons and toys that I grew up with… I eat that stuff up. And while I have felt at times like it’s getting a little long in the tooth, that doesn’t mean I’m not down to indulge in a game that’s going heavy with an ’80s vibe, and in case the title didn’t make that perfectly clear, that’s exactly what you get from Kingdom Eighties from Raw Fury.
The original Kingdom and its sequels are excellent real-time strategy style games but played from a unique side-scrolling perspective. They task you with gathering resources, creating various units, building out a home base, and eventually expanding and taking over more and more land, all while fending off attacks from all manner of enemies and completing various tasks and quests along the way.
I am not an RTS person at all, but somehow I’ve always clicked with the Kingdom games, perhaps because the side-scrolling view and the fact that you’re own character is very hands-on in terms of traveling around performing their duties that it almost feels more like a cool action game than an RTS. It also doesn’t hurt that the series has always featured incredible pixel art and killer animations, and that the story and lore of the universe you’re playing in is filled with interesting and surprising things.
Well, take all that, dress it up in an aesthetic that’s extremely Stranger Things-ish without actually being licensed, and that’s pretty much Kingdom Eighties. Now you’re not galloping back and forth on your horse recruiting peasants in a medieval fantasy land but instead pedaling back and forth on your BMX bike recruiting camp kids to help you fight back against whatever ’80s sci-fi alien monsters are wreaking havoc on your world. It’s almost a shame that this isn’t just a Stranger Things game because it all fits so perfectly.
Is swapping out the aesthetic from the previous entries enough for fans that have played Kingdom games to death already? Perhaps not, but it certainly is for me. Are there elements in Kingdom Eighties that are different enough from the other games to warrant diving into this version? Again, perhaps! I’m not far enough in to say just yet but the Kingdom games are deceptively deep as well as very satisfyingly challenging, so I wouldn’t be surprised to come across some big new features or mechanics that I haven’t seen just yet.
For now though, I’m cool with just enjoying the synth tunes and wacky sci-fi shenanigans of a group of ’80s kids that permeated the media I grew up enjoying, and if that’s all there ends up being to Kingdom Eighties I’m good with that because the core strategy game is still so much fun. If you’ve enjoyed previous Kingdom games and want another neon-infused helping I don’t think you can go wrong here.