Unlike most DRM, Rob Fearon’s latest game – the initials stand for Death Ray Manta – is designed to make its players extremely happy. It’s not a complex piece of work, but happiness isn’t a particularly complex emotion, is it? Rather than pile on rules and restrictions, this arena blaster settles for hectic movement and breathless shooting, and then busies itself arranging enemy waves and light displays.
The light displays are something else, too: you’re born, each round, in the midst of a blizzard of rainbow particles, and your foes fragment in a rich neon shower under impact, staining the 2D world with their reds, greens, purples and pinks. The background shifts and warps as the game projects endless LED bursts of encouragement, and the relentlessly euphoric soundtrack only adds to the over-powering atmosphere.
The enemies aren’t bad, either, whether they’re the robots and shuffling crocodiles that waddle after you like grunts, the roving turrets whose projectiles bisect the screen, or the more diverse critters lurking in wait as you work your way through the pacy campaign. Such a deadly – and psychedelic – ecology ensures that both Jeff Minter and Eugene Jarvis get a name-check, of course, but with its collectable ‘tiffin’ drones, punning level names and chatty transitions, DRM’s got enough of its own identity to give fresh shape to the chummy muddle of homage and inspiration.
Later updates will add customisation options and possibly the odd new mode, but this is already more than enough game for most people to handle. Excessive and wonderfully straightforward at the exact same time, DRM is a gloriously upbeat shooter that will chew through your waking life with worrying efficiency.