Recently, I dug into my archives and pulled out some old adventure games from years past. No, this was not a nostalgia trip, but a necessity. My computer's main board had blown, and to assuage the gaming beast within me, I had to revert to my old backup Pentium 200 and play some old-school games while waiting for my new parts to arrive.
In an old box, nestled amongst Phantasmagoria, Myst, and The 7th Guest, was a game called Bad Mojo--a game that for some inexplicable I reason never finished. In case you don't remember this title, think cockroach. Ah, that helps, doesn't it? No? Hmm, well, read on anyway.
In Bad Mojo, you play Roger Samms, a scientist who, after being involved in some questionable research, has decided to skip town with the riches he recently reaped. Of course, the night before your departure, something happens that drastically alters that plan. As you are packing up your things (after being harassed by your sleazy landlord for this month's rent), you grab your mother's antique locket, and it magically and mysteriously transforms you into (gasp) a cockroach.
Your only option is to navigate the various rooms of your apartment building and try to find a way to correct your current situation. Along the way, you find clues and information about yourself and your landlord. The plot thickens, as they say, and a deeper and more complex story evolves. You are aided by a woman known as the Oracle and given hints via your newly found friends, the rodents and the insects. As usual, the story builds towards a climactic ending, but I'll leave it at that so as not to ruin things for you. The one major complaint I had with the game's storyline was an all-too-convenient coincidence that is alluded to early on and that acts as a primary element to the story. But hey, this is a game about a man turning into a cockroach. I think you might want to look elsewhere for realism.
The graphics in Bad Mojo are very interesting--it's rather hard to say how they stack up today, considering that this game is four years old. The view is top-down, and you move through a 2D world, but it's done in a very convincing and realistic manner. The graphics are crisp and clear, and the quality is high, but to say they are pleasing to the eye--well, let's just say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your journeys through the building are not on recently steam-cleaned carpets or beautiful marble floors. Your landlord is sleazy, and his building is a dive. You will wander over dead rats, through broken peanut shells, and around cobwebs and wet paint. This game is not for the easily queasy--it's downright disgusting in parts. But if you can handle the gross factor, you'll find it is fairly interesting crawling around such unorthodox surroundings. And its not all gross--one of the coolest parts of the game is crawling across the kitchen counter, with chili bubbling on the stove nearby. Of course, there are those maggots munching on some raw steak as well. Yum, I think you get the picture.
The interface in Bad Mojo is ridiculously simple. There is no inventory, there is no notebook--there isn't even an "action" or "use" button. Don't bother with the mouse, either--all you get here are your four standard arrow keys--up, down, left, right. You affect things in the game by bumping into them or running over them. If you really think about it, this makes perfect sense--you're a cockroach after all, not a space marine or well-endowed archaeologist. This doesn't take away from the game either, quite the opposite. Exploration is key here, and you will be amazed by some of the places you can navigate and investigate.
The puzzles in Bad Mojo aren't all that logical, but they are fun. I guess logic goes right out the door when you're talking about being turned into a cockroach by a magical locket. Still, most of the puzzles are very solvable, and overall the game is not that hard. As a novice, you may get stuck here and there, but any expert adventure gamer should have no trouble with this game. It's a bit short for my liking, and I finished it in just three quick nights. There are six "sections" in the game, and I think it could have used at least three or four more. Also, there isn't exactly an abundance of things to do. Many times, you'll find yourself just moving along with the story and not really doing all that much.
I've heard complaints that the music in Bad Mojo is too repetitive. I checked the CD and found that most of the music samples were 20 seconds or less--they are simply looped in the game. Personally, I didn't notice this at all, and found the music to be rather eerie and kind of creepy (exactly what you would expect from a game of this type, I suppose). The sound effects were nothing that will win awards, but they were effective. The most memorable sounds for me are the ones you make as you maneuver over different surfaces in the game. You get a nice gooey, sticky sound when you walk over a big hunk of meat and then a slippery rubbing sound as you traverse the edge of the toilet bowl. Again, it's not revolutionary, but it paints the intended picture.
Finale and the Verdict
The endgame wraps up cleanly, and there are four possible endings. I thought the video sequences and cutscenes throughout the game were very hot and cold--some were extremely well-done and interesting, whereas a few were downright lame. The sequences that run while the oracle speaks to you, however, are extremely clever, if a bit odd. I found myself replaying them even if I didn't need to. Some of the dialogue she speaks during these sequences serve as clues and have double meanings. Overall, they are the highlight of the entire game.
Bad Mojo is a unique game and a nice change of pace to the "standard" adventure template. It puts you in a very strange scenario, one you won't see in many other releases. Some will find it disturbing, some will find it intriguing, and I'm guessing that almost all will find it just plain different. Because of this, I think you'll discover the initial addiction factor to be very high. Despite the fact that it is rather short, and not very difficult, I think the ride is fun, andBad Mojo will provide some solid entertainment. This title won't necessarily be one you put in your trophy case, but it definitely will be a game you will remember.
Final Grade: B
Windows 3.1 or Windows 95
486/66 MHz or higher
8 MB RAM
20 MB available hard disk space
2X CD-ROM drive
Super VGA graphics (256 colors)
68040/33Mhz processor or Power Mac
8-bit color monitor
8 MB RAM
Double speed CD ROM drive or faster
System 7.1 or higher