These games are highly polished and look and sound great, though they do feel somewhat compromised by their ties to the overall narrative; they certainly feel like strange little game islands rather than smaller pieces of a larger whole or fully self-contained experiences.
In the case of the brawler the mix of old-school references and updated presentation was so effective I wished it was entire game I could play, while other cases (for example an Out Run clone that really only exists as a visual metaphor for the story) didn’t really seem to connect.
Meanwhile the narrative scenes threading the games together are wonderfully animated, with flourishes that perfectly evoke many a ’90s game end credit scene, even if they’re composed of graphical tricks and lighting effects that would melt a Street Fighter cabinet to hot slag.
198X‘s running time is potentially not longer than your standard film, and for an experience like this that’s fine. Rather than being a collection of old-school games you can really dive into, this is a narrative title with something to say, composed of stunning 2D art and bite-sized playable nostalgia fuel.