Kingdom Eighties Review: A Taste of Greatness & What Could Have Been

Kingdom Eighties is the newest game in the long running Kingdom series, and it was a game I was actually extremely excited for. I am a huge fan of the Kingdom games, and find their stunning pixel graphics and interesting foreground and background graphics that make what is a 2D side scroller feel like it has so much more depth and liveliness in its world.

Kingdom 80s is the newest of the Kingdom series from Raw Fury Studios which included Kingdom (Classic), Kingdom New Lands, Kingdom Two Crowns, and Kingdom Norse Lands.

This makes Kingdom Eighties stand out because it is the only one that is not medieval in nature. The setting is pop culture 1980s America from Summer Camp to Town Mall and is split into 4 distinctive chapters and puts a new spin on the setting while maintaining classic Kingdom gameplay mechanics.

For fans of the other Kingdom games that were released by Raw Fury Studios, especially after the masterpiece that was Norse Lands, there’s a lot to absolutely love about Kingdom 80s but how does it hold up overall? Does this game stand on its own and is it a worthy addition to the series or are there problems that hold this game back from its full potential.

Spoiler Warning: While I’ll do my best not to give away any main story points or plot points, in explaining both what was interesting about this new Kingdom game and what went wrong – it’s possible small spoilers may occur. I’ll do my best to make sure there’s nothing that will change the quality of game experience or story for you but be aware since many Kingdom games have the same general mechanics or plot – it’s impossible to avoid all spoilers, so you have been warned.

Let’s dive in to the unique game that is Kingdom Eighties.

Kingdom 80s Camp Kingdom
A new and welcome addition: cut scenes that give some really neat animations in an intentionally very 80s “old school” look that makes you feel like you’re watching these scenes from an old VHS tape.

Kingdom 80s Review: A Nostalgic-Fest Addition to the Classic Series

There’s no question where the influence for this addition to the Kingdom series of games comes from. Kingdom 80s draws from all the pop culture nostalgia of the 80s starting in a summer camp where so many all-time horror movie classics in the 1980s were set, to grabbing a heavy Stranger Things tone throughout the levels and cut scenes, to Easter Eggs or direct references to past 80s pop culture phenomena.

My Little Pony, Back to the Future, Stranger Things, Predator, Friday the 13th – all these references and more are in the game. The soundtrack to the game even jumps in, adding an 80s synthesizer version of the classic Kingdom theme which actually works remarkably well. That keeps the classic fans happy with the soundtrack while adding that bit of 1980s flair to set it apart.

Experienced players to the Kingdom games will be very familiar with the mechanics, although you may noticed a more simplified version. Many of the alterations, advancements, and changes from more recent games in the series have been pulled back in this version for a simpler interface. For beginners this can be nice because it makes things simpler, for experienced players the simplicity is noticeable and it’s hard not to feel like something is missing.

The game is split into 4 chapters, each of which has a cut scene upon the level’s completion as you move on to the next chapter, which is at a new location. There are also mini-cut scenes in some of these levels when introducing new characters you can recruit and take with you to help throughout the game to defeat the Greed…meaning this time you don’t have to go it alone!

Kingdom 80s Game Overview

Kingdom Eighties has eight lands, divided into “Chapters.” Beating each section leads to a cut scene, which also leads into another cut scene explaining the new setting (or end of game at the end of the 4th one). The translation of past allies, mounts, and themes into a modern 1980s setting is well done and manages to keep a feeling of familiarity and a wink to the other games in the Kingdom series that came before it, while adding a very new setting.

The blend is well done. This feels and plays like one of the Kingdom games while keeping you excited to explore new settings and figure out how they have translated jobs, tasks, and the like into this new setting. This is a game that feels new and familiar at the same time. It’s easy for new players to break into, and for experienced players it’s very easy to shut off the tutorial…and so far so good on no bug that keeps the tutorial ghost on even when you turn it off (side eyeing older games).

You play as the Leader, a kid with a classic hoodie that includes a crown. You have a way of getting others to rally around you, and as a group you fight the Greed, save the kids at camp, and look at figuring out what caused the Greed to show up, what they want, and how to defeat them…all in a very nostalgic 80s action style.

Pros of Kingdom 80s

  • Nails the 80’s nostalgia through the pop culture Stranger Things lens they were shooting for, and Easter eggs ranging from My Little Pony to Back to the Future are fantastic.
  • There are moments where potential really shines through whether it’s mechanics like the moving dumpster or the fun “chores” setting for your growing camps
  • Moving away from pure Medieval settings opens up the potential options for future games
  • The graphics are extraordinary and beautiful, as expected with a Kingdom game

Cons of Kingdom 80s

  • Game was ridiculously short – arguably even shorter than the very first one
  • Combat challenge took a major step backwards even on harder difficulties
  • Incredibly easy compared to other recent Kingdom games – clearly missing a lot of challenge
  • Feels thin and incomplete even when standing on its own much less compared to other recent Kingdom games.

How Does Kingdom 80s Compare to Other Kingdom Games?

Honestly, it falls short, in my opinion. There’s a lot here I like. The new settings are intriguing, the graphics are outstanding even against the high standards of a Kingdom game, and the gameplay is fun…though there are serious balance issues with the available rides/mounts. Incredible inconsistency on what works well and what doesn’t.

While I understand wanting the game to be beginner-friendly, they might have gone too far in that direction. For those of us who have played the others, this feels like a very stripped back version of a Kingdom game, and that sort of encapsulates the feeling that a base of a truly tremendous Kingdom game exists in Kingdom Eighties…but they don’t fulfill that promise.

Don’t get me wrong; I liked the game, but that’s it. I liked it, I didn’t love it, and with all the great indie games out there it’s hard to justify $10 on a less than 5 hour game. There were some new things here they tried, but it seemed like for every interesting thing they tried they got rid of multiple tried and true improvements from previous games.

Nostalgia just can’t replace gameplay, good mechanics, and challenge. And it does feel like for all the potential here, far too much reliance was made on nostalgia, on the new cut scenes, and on these small moments of really cool new quirks and the game as a whole suffers because of it. Is this still a fun few hours? Sure. But unless it gets major upgrades and content additions, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you find a 70%+ sale on Steam or the platform of your choice.

The Verdict: Intriguing Streaks of Potential Bear Hugged by Mediocrity

At the end of the day my feeling on this game is that it really felt like an unfinished game that was heavily rushed to get it done and out, like a high school English paper where the last 3 pages of 5 are fluff and saying nothing with a lot of words to just get it in, and that’s a shame. The cut scenes gave a new dimension that was interesting, some of the mechanics were cool, the 80’s reference throwbacks were fantastic, and the game did a good job of capturing that Stranger Things vibe it was going for.

But the game is short. Far too short. Don’t get me wrong, as an adult with limited time I like short games – but this wasn’t just “a little meat on the bone” this felt like a picked over chicken wing. Basic mechanics made the game ridiculously easy and to capture 2/3 of all the achievements and finish the full game in less than 4 hours – including cut scenes and going at a slow cautious pace…it’s a huge disappointment.

Not a lot of playing time…especially since this is from a relaxed pace gamer and includes all the cut scenes.

Recent Kingdom games kept building more and more on their successes and boosting those by adding even more. This time it was such a sliver of gameplay compared to Kingdom Norse Lands and so much that had never been a problem previous games like challenge and mechanics suddenly were a problem here. Get the dumpster, kite your enemies, and you could destroy everything with no risk and no issue.

When the biggest challenges come from upgrading past bike #3 because the “better” or upper level vehicles have glaring weaknesses or are broken…that’s not good design, and it’s a shame because there’s some serious potential here but at the end of the day the game is not worthy of being part of a series with so many great games and proves that a little potential combined with some nostalgia just does not make up for a big step back in gameplay and design.

kingdom 80s final level
The game is unsurprisingly beautiful, creating a very attractive 80’s/Stranger Things version of the classic Kingdom graphics, but more than anything I wish there was so much more.

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