First posted on 01 April 2007. Last updated on 06 April 2012.
|The bad mojo has struck!|
|As a cockroach, you have to crawl up a broomstick to reach the counter top in the kitchen.|
|The moth in the laboratory can provide a quick passage.|
|Roger the human comes face to face with Roger the roach.|
First released in 1996, Bad Mojo (also known as Bad Mojo: The Roach Game) is among the most original graphic adventure games an adventure game fan can experience. In this game, your alter ego takes on the role of a very peculiar, unique, and unusual character. In fact, you play as the most little (not always), dirty (always), vile, and disgusting creature known to men, whose name can surely gross you out and end your appetite. You are a cockroach, and you must find your way through the filth and grease that only a cockroach can love.
Roger Samms is an entomologist with a shady past. For some reasons, he is crammed inside a lousy motel room in San Francisco, with a suitcase containing a million dollars that comes by not from a very legal way. He and his passport are both ready for a hasty escape, and he is prepared to leave his old life behind and start a new life in a distant Caribbean paradise away from everyone. Fate, however, can play strange tricks. As Roger prepares for his escape, he picks up an old medallion belonged to his mother—a magical medallion—which casts a spell on Roger and, for a Dantesque retaliation, turns him into a cockroach!
From here on, the fun (or nightmare) begins. Everything onwards is different from anything you expect, since you must now see through the eyes (and the antennas) of a roach. You cannot take anything for granted, for every little obstacle can become a deadly trap. Puddles, cigarette butts, and bottle caps now take great effort to get past, and creatures like spiders and rats can quickly put an end to your small existence. You start off in the same motel room where you are before your transformation; but now you have to explore it in the shoes of a bug, and it is more difficult than you can imagine. You have to crawl your way through the filth that is everywhere, all the while learning to think like a roach, using objects for reaching tables, bypassing traps, climbing walls, and so on. Can you stay alive long enough in the end to break the spell and return as human?
Released in 1996, the original version of Bad Mojo uses only 256 colors set in 640x480 resolution. It thus comes to no surprise that the graphics in this game look a bit dated now. Bad Mojo Redux (also known as Bad Mojo: The Roach Game Redux), a revised version released later in 2003, improves on the graphics by using high colors set in 800x600 resolution. Both versions use Apple QuickTime to display the game's videos. The latter release updates not only the QuickTime application to improve system compatibility but also the video feed to play back high quality 16-bit videos. Otherwise, there is little difference between these versions. The game is played from a top down view, with idle screens as backdrops. This means that the screen does not follow your roach as it moves about but changes completely to a different screen whenever it exits the current screen from any of the edges. The backgrounds are pre-rendered in 2D, while the cockroach is fully rendered in 3D. This allows your roach to climb vertical walls, go upside down under tables, crawl into sewers, and perform all the acrobatic moves which only cockroaches can do.
Considering the limited screen resolution, all the environments in this game are beautifully drawn, filled with vivid and realistic locations, and so full of filth and dirt that you can almost touch the grime. The developer claims that over 800 navigable screens are rendered for the game. The cockroach, on the other hand, is sadly lacking in details. Even worse, its mobile antennas and tiny crawling legs do not match well to its body for it to look realistic. Also, the cinematics that stagger across the 5 different chapters of the game look out of place. The Full Motion Videos are acted out by real actors, but the acting is over the top, perhaps as a consequence to the spirit of the game. The quality of the video feed is low. The videos are pixelated and small in size. The sound is not very well developed. The special sound effects are realistic but are few in numbers, whereas the musical scores are redundant and quite repetitive to listen.
The game uses an unique control system. There is no mouse support, and you control your roach using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Also, there is no inventory to carry items, which is logical since you are just a cockroach. There are no actual puzzles in the game, because the whole game is a giant puzzle that plays like an obstacle course in itself. You have to explore every part of the screen to know where to go next, find the right path, and avoid the traps. There are many dangers awaiting your roach, from big rats to hungry cats, so you really need to be careful. There is even a chance that you can die in the game. Your roach has 5 lives. Once killed, it reappears right behind the point where it is killed. When all the lives are used up, the game is over. Fortunately, you can save the game at any time, so you can always restore a game if you die.
In many areas, your roach has to push and pull small objects, such as coins or caps, in order to reach some parts of the screen, but there are no puzzles to solve in the usual sense. Nonetheless, some parts are quite challenging to play. The downside is that you do not have many options in choosing what to do, because there is only a single way to reach the next level. Still, once a new area is unlocked, the old area is not closed off and you can always go back. There are 4 different possible endings, depending on what you do at some moments during the game. Unfortunately, the overall gameplay is quite monotonic and can get very boring. Crawling throughout a room, with no idea of where you are and where you have to go, can be needlessly frustrating. Most of the times, you have to first reach a higher ground to get an overview of the room, before returning to the floor to navigate through the obstacles.
Available only with Bad Mojo Redux is a special bonus DVD featuring the documentary "Making of Bad Mojo". It includes interviews with members of the production team such as designers, producers, and artists. In addition, the DVD features narrations that showcase concept art, storyboard, and behind the scene footage related to the development of the game. A narrated visual hint guide to the game is also available under "Hints" on the DVD.
In conclusion, Bad Mojo is an unique game with an original idea that makes for a truly memorable gaming experience. Unfortunately, the game is marred by limited and marginally uninspired gameplay lasting only about 7-9 hours. It may be fun to live life as a cockroach for a short while (assuming you have a stomach strong enough for it), and the game can probably be enjoyed solely for its peculiarity rather than its mechanic. In the end, however, Bad Mojo plays more like a divertissement, because it takes more than an original idea to make a good game.