App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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The latest entry in the Kingdom series also takes place the closest the franchise has ever gotten to the modern day. Kingdom Eighties takes the real-time, minimalist strategy series to the 1980s and trades out horses for bikes, has you building outposts in abandon malls, injects a synth-fueled soundtrack, and... well, that's pretty much it. It's still a fun game, but Kingdom Eighties definitely feels like a half-hearted sequel.
Kingdom Eighties has you take control of a kid in the midst of a sudden monster attack originating from a nearby mall. Just like in previous Kingdom games, you start off with a mount an a few coins that you have to ride around and deploy strategically to build up a safe encampment that can eventually take down the external threat.
For this game, though, your mount is (typically) a bicycle, and you recruit nearby children to build up walls using construction equipment, create income by restoring power to rundown arcades, and can even recruit 80s movie cliches like a jock and a nerd to compliment your fighting force.
Save your parents
The primary game mode in Kingdom Eighties is a campaign that consists of four rounds of basic Kingdom gameplay. Along the way there are a few cutscenes that tell the story of how the monsters broke loose and how the kids can figure out a way to stop the invasion and save their parents. It's the exact kind of corny narrative that pervaded 80s movies so it feels fitting here.
Once you complete this campaign, Kingdom Eighties also allows you to take on "Survival Mixtapes" which give you certain goals to meet on certain maps while cranking up the difficulty. This is to say that just like other Kingdom games, there are a lot of things to do, although they all boil down to essentially the same procedural and strategic gameplay.
Not radical enough
I still really like the basic gameplay formula of the Kingdom games, but Kingdom Eighties feels a little hollow to me. The previous title, Two Crowns, felt like it was bursting with so much new stuff that I never really figured out how everything in it worked, whereas I felt like I had seen everything in Eighties by the time I reached the last chapter of the campaign.
I also think that if you're going to take a game to the 1980s, you have to do it all the way. While Kingdom Eighties generally looks the part of an 80s-tastic spin on Kingdom, it also doesn't feel like it does nearly enough to fully transform it. Your fighters are still archers and knights, your currency is still coins, your encampments still end up looking like castles, etc. The end result is a game that feels very much like an older game with a fresh coat of paint just splashed on top of it.
The bottom line
Kingdom Eighties feels like an add-on for a Kingdom game as opposed to a fully fledged game in its own right, and even as an add-on it doesn't feel like it totally captures the vision it's going for. It's still a fun and compelling gameplay formula, but all of the things that Eighties does to switch things up feel very surface-level.