Reviewed: March 16, 2005
Released: December 9, 2004
Mac System Requirements
Back in 1996 you were likely to find me crawling around filthy bathrooms, splashing around in puddles of grease, and playing with old razor blades, and on my bad days I would get sucked into a vacuum cleaner or fall into the toilet. Yes, I was living the life of luxury as a stinking cockroach, or at least the life of a cockroach as envisioned by the creative geniuses at Pulse Entertainment with their sleeper hit, Bad Mojo.
Bad Mojo was one of those memorable games, not so much for itís wacky premise; after all, weíve all seen a grown man turned into a cockroach, but because it brought a whole sense of style to PC gaming unlike anything we had seen since The 7th Guest. Mixing FMV and hundreds of picture-perfect digitized scenes and pre-rendered visuals, Bad Mojo was a surrealistic journey of epic proportions, contrasted only by its tiny hero.
When Got Game announced they were bringing back this cult classic I was understandably excited. The original game had long since stopped working on my newer hardware and Windows OS. Not only is Bad Mojo (Redux) retooled for modern machines, the designers have packed in some DVD-style bonus materials that will undoubtedly delight the fans of the original.
Bad Mojo is the very definition of adventure gaming. The entire game takes place in a small building that is part apartments, part bar and restaurant. While this doesnít sound like much of an environment, try to picture yourself exploring a human world from the unique perspective of a cockroach.
Yes, from the very end of the opening movie to the beginning of the closing movie you play as one of mankindís most despised and disgusting insects. Youíll explore common everyday places that now take on a mystical and almost epic perspective, where just getting across a small room can take hours. And you canít even begin to imagine the hazards that await.
The story is a bit absurd but told with so much dedication to the material that you are forced to take it seriously. There is a dark underlying secret buried in the story that is slowly revealed through cutscenes and your own exploration of news clippings, letters, and other clues scattered about the building. Chances are you'll guess the "surprise ending", but I think observant gamers are supposed to figure it out.
Playing Bad Mojo is extremely simple. You move your cockroach around with the arrow keys. You can move forward or backward and rotate with the left and right arrows. Thatís it. No action button, no fire button, just moving your little roach around. But donít think for a second that the game is boring. This simplistic control scheme just makes you think that much more.
You might have to push a sleeping pill into a can of soda or create an avalanche of razor blades to kill a rat inside the wall. You might have to carefully navigate a roach motel and position your fallen comrades to get through the poisonous maze, or attack a spider with a lit cigarette. Starting to sound cool yet?
The game levels are basically just realistic locations that are broken down into segments so when you exit one screen you appear on the next. You are corralled by natural obstructions like water, sand, fire, and while the game is in 2D the gameplay manages to extend vertically allowing you to climb table legs, pipes, etc. and the camera will change perspective as needed.
As you explore these areas you can interact with some items or trigger FMV cutscenes that reveal important clues on how to get through an area or reveal some of the backstory. The entire building is tied together with a series of plumbing that all converges in the basement allowing you easy access to return to previous areas.
Bad Mojo was state-of-the-art back in 1996 and even though it may be a bit dated by todayís gaming standards, there is a certain nostalgic charm to the visuals. Pulse has updated the movies and they look really great. The original game ran in 256-color mode but this new version has been remastered from the original artwork and now runs in 24-bit true color mode for a much smoother look.
The visuals do an excellent job of creating a dirty and gritty look, perfect for the world of a disgusting cockroach. Everything is shot from the unique perspective of a cockroach, and I can just imagine the artists crawling around on the floor taking snapshots.
There are all sorts of subtle details that come through in the picture-perfect scenery. You can actually read the dates on spilled coins, read newspaper clippings and other documents, and there are even options to turn on animated antenna and shadows.
The music in Bad Mojo is a mix of horror and sci-fi that mimics what you might hear on an episode of Twilight Zone. Itís very cinematic and creates moods ranging from terror to suspense, and there are plenty of music cues to intensify the action.
Voice work ranges from really good to really bad but even when itís bad itís good. The lead character, at least when he is in human form, overacts so much, both vocally and in physical performance, he could overshadow Jim Carrey in an acting contest. Youíll laugh at his abysmal performance but you are supposed to.
There are plenty of authentic sound effects including a lot of sounds that we take for granted everyday that are now much louder when listening with cockroach ears. The tiny pilot light on the water heater is a roar and youíll hear the trickle or drips of water, the sticky sounds of your feet as you get stuck in various liquids, or the squeak as you skid around the toilet bowl.
Bad Mojo (Redux) is the ultimate version of the game featuring not only the original game with remastered videos but all sorts of bonus material including interviews, behind-the-scenes, storyboards, concept art, and even a visual walkthrough of the game in case you get stuck.
Despite the simple gameplay, Bad Mojo is very challenging and will take most gamers at least 12-15 hours to finish, not a bad bargain considering the $20 budget price on this re-release. If you have never played the original or just want to relive the goodness along with some cool new features, this is a great game at a great price.
Bad Mojo is totally original and totally fun, and even after simmering for nearly a decade before reemerging to a new generation of gamers, the gameplay holds up with anything else currently available in the adventure genre.
Sure the gameplay is simplistic, but the story is rich, the puzzles challenging, and the entire presentation just oozes cinematic goodness. Bad Mojo is a must own title for adventure game fans or those just looking to collect rare and inventive games.