You can get it on eBay, you can get it in a jumble sale. I don’t care how you get it, just get it if you can. ‘It’ being The Neighbours Game, published in 1988 and currently going for around £15 on the second-hand market, making your mum’s loft a treasure trove of retro jewels worth up to £15.
But it’s not about the money, it’s about what The Neighbours Game represents – an almost infinite number of never-seen-before plotlines. Neighbours might be ending on television, but it doesn’t have to end in your mind.
Here’s how it works: the aim of The Neighbours Game is to win the most points by putting down combinations of character and storyline cards to create episodes of Neighbours. The cards have to match the colour on the board and the resulting plotline must make grammatical sense insofar as you care about grammatical sense. For instance, you might put down the character card “Harold Bishop”, followed by the storyline card “Secretly Marries”, followed by the character card “Bouncer the Dog” followed by the storyline card “and is arrested by the police”. Quite right too.
Other storyline cards might involve a character, let’s pick Mrs Mangel, who: Goes skinny dipping/Wears a sexy dress to the street party/Decides to learn belly dancing/Buys a skimpy new swimsuit/Claims to have found gold at Lassiters’ Reef/Admits she used to be a stripper/Ends up in hospital with head injuries/Decides to become a nun/Can’t remember her own name.
Or to give Des Clarke (of Des and Daphne fame) a whirl, let’s say he: Discovers the house has been burgled/Dies his hair green/Gets punched in the nose/Is told he has six months to live/Takes a parachute jump/Runs off to join the foreign legion/Is keeping a dark secret/Goes hitchhiking around Australia/Gets a job delivering Gorillagrams/Becomes a vegetarian/Wins a Pacific holiday for two.
Add those to the ‘Extra’ cards involving a mysterious butcher, the boy next door and the local drunk, and the conclusory ‘But denies it ever happened’, ‘And promises it will never happen again’ cards, and you’ve got yourself an three-story episode.
Now we’re not saying that this is definitely how the Neighbours writing team have been doing it for nigh-on four decades, but also, that is what we’re saying. How else can you explain the pregnancies lost to venomous snake bites and bouts of amnesia caused by slipping over rocks/some milk (delete as appropriate), not to mention that time Toadie accidentally drove his new wife off a cliff, or when Kerry Mangel was shot dead while protesting a duck hunt (and promises it will never happen again.)
One caveat: having been published in the late 1980s, The Neighbours Game is stuck in classic-era Neighbours, which is the best era obviously, but will require the addition of some homemade cards featuring Erinsborough stalwarts the Kennedys, Toadie and more if you want to extend the fun. You may also want to take out the ‘Beats his wife’ card and Des and Daphne’s three-year-old son Jamie as a character option, because this isn’t Cards Against Humanity and a lot of those storylines involve passionately kissing, and see-through outfits.
So, hug your copy of The Neighbours Game close. That’s not just £15 worth of dead spider-filled nostalgia you’re holding in your arms, that’s the future of Ramsay Street.