Neighbours

You know how with videogames they spend a good hour, two hours, vaguely trying to work their way towards a set up before proceeding to spend another ten hours getting to the point a film can do in an hour and a half? Yeah, that’s a thing that puzzles me. Not that I’m averse to games that take their time to unfold but just y’know, how little we manage to cram into the time videogames consume out of our lives still surprises.

When I sat down to write the introduction to Death Ray Manta, I had Shack’s Neighbours in mind. In the space of eleven lines, Mick Head presents an entire slice of life, hopes, dreams and existence. An all encompassing thing that videogames struggle to do over their elongated run times. If Mick could do that over eleven lines, I could set up the plot to a game about a fish with lasers in his head over less, yeah?

“Look from your window, stop raining
Look for a fella who’s still outside
All he wants is to be a dealer
All he’s got left of the pride

Was it something you’re saying?
Is it something to tell me?
Are you scared of the neighbours?
Was it something on telly?

When you’re not with him it’s different
Look for a way it’s not inside
And all she’s got left of the pride”

I’m long of the opinion that Neighbours is one of the greatest pop songs of the past 30 years anyway but as a lesson in setting a scene, it’s hard to beat. Well, except maybe for the wonderful opening to “…Across The Kitchen Table“, another Head masterpiece. “In a cheap motel room, the miraculous way you bucked up when I said you were incredibly beautiful” is one fuck of a scene setter.

So yeah, with Neighbours in mind I spent some time trying to get the intro to Death Ray Manta down to 4 lines.

Death Ray Manta
Has lasers in his head
He blew up his house
Now he lives in space instead

Who, really, needs more? OK, OK, it’s no Mick Head but then *I’m* no Mick Head. Mission accomplished though, all the set up I need in less than 20 words.

Death Ray Manta was always about trying to make the pop song of videogames. I dunno, I don’t think I quite got there so this time round, I’m going to be writing a videogame with popsongs instead. Think Deus Ex Machina meets Robotron with a fish and you’re probably not even close. It’s still Death Ray Manta at its heart because how could it not be. What I wanted to do was just write a really good arcade game so that’s precisely what I’m going to do.

It’s probably a madness but that’s half the fun, right? Cool-as-fuck-electropop-vidkidz-videogames is a thing now. Or at least, it will be by the time me, Andy, Mike and Jen have finished.

And I’m going to rope in a few heroes along the way because why not.

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