A Review by infernoj13usa
The Adventure Begins
If you are looking for the type of game, which is easy on the eyes and ears, an adventure in which fluffy, happy little bunnies frolic to and fro; a game which offers 3D arcade shooting sequences, spiffy, intricate scenic dissolves, complex puzzles which go absolutely nowhere and pretty eye candy to revel in… this ain’t it. However, if traveling through the squalid, gritty and vermin infested terrain of a dilapidated waterfront San Francisco “dive” and then viewing said environment from the “ground” up as a cockroach is something that might interest you … Man o’ Man, have I got an adventure for you! Bad Mojo is so wonderfully creepy, so hideously hilarious as you traverse its world through the eyes of one of the lowest and oldest forms of existence all the while still retaining the powers of human awareness. I guarantee you will feel like showering after every gaming session.
There were times indeed while I was playing this scrumptiously repulsive game that I became possessed by the “willies”. Oh… I’m sorry...don’t know what the “willies” are? That’s that feeling you get when the weather is so suffocatingly clammy out side that the ambiance seems to creep indoors through every nook and cranny, almost like a steam bath, and you could cut the atmosphere with a butter knife. You feel so uncomfortable within your own body that your skin literally crawls upon you, sending shivers of perspiration down your legs, very similar to the eerie sensations of something small and wiggly creeping up your extremities as its antennae gently graze against you warm moist skin. And … oh, ok, ok! I’ll stop.
Bad Mojo Redux is the remake of a third person, keyboard driven Slide Show Adventure, Bad Mojo that was originally created in 1996. Written and directed by Vincent Carrella and produced by Vincent Carrella, Phil Simon and Alex Louie.
It has not lost any of its punch over the years. Lavishly sprinkled with those wonderfully theatrical FMV sequences at every turn, especially when you are turning in the “sewer room” waiting for guidance from the “Oracle” or crawling over one of the many “Eye Glyphs” strewn throughout the gaming universe in hopes of a clue, this adventure still holds fast in its tightness of invention and withstands the test of time.
Technical Stuff and Nonsense
I thought I’d start here and get it out of the way so that we can get to the good stuff. The Bad Mojo Redux version was a joy to install. Remember that it is still very much the original game and still runs in 640X480 screen resolution. The nice thing about it is you can keep your Main Screen Resolution set to whatever you like if you have Windows XP. Just make sure that your colors are set to at least 24bit color. Mine is set at 32bit and the game runs like magic after a few minor tweaks. Once you’ve installed Bad Mojo simply Check the boxes in the Compatibility Tab for the following: Display Setting: Run in 640X480 Screen Resolution and Disable Text Services. In the Input Settings: Turn off Advanced Text Services if you have it. Since I have DirectX9b I also turned down my audio acceleration for Sound1 and Sound 2 to Basic Acceleration. The Audio is much clearer for my system that way. No Patches are required for this game. For a keyboard adventure (oh, stop groaning! That’s right…don’t think I don’t know who you are...) Bad Mojo is a snap to operate. Simple use of the directional keys is the default but if you are left handed, just click on Preferences and you can change them to IJKL or WASD as be suits your humor. The ESC key will cut through the opening splash screens and movies if you like and the SPACEBAR and ENTER keys will pause the game and bring you to the Main Menu. Quite simple really. A+, guys, for not letting the controls get in the way of this fascinating adventure.
The original version used Quicktime 2.0.3; this newer Redux utilizes Quicktime 6.0 and comes with the game. Lovely. Now we can view this virtually smelly, fetid universe in a 20% larger screen. It just doesn’t get any better than this. What a treat. I can almost taste that chili… Yum! … And the Bathroom … you can just imagine the scintillating aroma wafting throughout the halls of Eddie’s On The Waterfront …Bletch! (…Sorry.)
Even Better News
Apparently, a new Gold Master is in production that will automatically allow the program to perform at full resolution for WindowsXP. This means that XP’ers will have a choice to either set the screen resolution to the original 640X480 via the Compatibility Tab on the executable file if that is there wish, or do nothing and have it run like a snap with their own systems default screen resolution. Who says Roach Creators aren’t beautiful?
The Good Stuff
Plot Exposition … It has to go somewhereThe Creepy Crawlies
Why? The answer in my mind is quite simple really. It’s the solid storyline and interesting use of plot exposition and scenic design. Visually stunning in its portrayal of a dilapidated old bar and grill at the bottom of a San Francisco bridge known as “Eddie’s On The Waterfront”, Bad Mojo lures you into it’s nightmare world of things you don’t see but know in the back of your mind might be lurking, scuttling, creeping and crawling in the walls. The plot exposition is absolutely everywhere you look. It’s waiting to be discovered, whether it’s investigating an old trunk full of bittersweet memorabilia, riding on the back of a moth or clamoring through the dirt and grime of the burned and charred remains of old photographs, news articles and lab reports through the porcelain precipices of an old decaying bathtub. The story is there for you to find as you uncover Dr. Roger Samms’ life and help him to unravel the truth about his past. Bad Mojo possesses a much heavier story-based orientation rather than a puzzle-based one thanks to the strong writing style of Vincent Carrella and Phil Simon (Red Faction II 2002) who were inspired at the time by a wild combination of Franz Kafka and David Lynch, which alone makes it my kind of game.
Now, while there are a few puzzles and conundrums along your journey, none of them are there for the puzzles’ sake. All are logical and pertinent to the movement of the storyline. Well done, I say. The tale itself harkens back to those classic parables of overwhelming guilt, doubt and misplaced identity, with characters who because their circumstances have caused them to have been blinded by self pity, remorse and self-absorption are now the building blocks of classic drama. We even have a “Greek Chorus” of sorts here provided by a Spirit who is referred to only as “The Oracle”. I found the story to be quite well written; it held my attention throughout the game. Add to this, Peter Stone’s tensely brilliant off beat musical underscore and the gritty, squalid artwork and virtual world of “Eddie’s On the Waterfront” masterfully created by Art Directors Charlie Rose and Larry Chandler, Designer/Producers Drew Huffman, Alex Louie and Phil Simon, and executed by 3D Technical Director Dan Meblin (I swear you could almost taste the smell it) and you have the makings of a first rate adventure game. Like the wonderfully great theatrical pieces of yesteryear, such as Gold in the Hills and Buster Keaton’s The General combined with the angst of Kafka and mixed with the inspirational insanity of Lynch’s Blue Velvet, we have the makings of Great Theatre here.
Oh, come on… who hasn’t wondered as a child sitting on our front stoop in our seersucker shorts and dirty white PF Flyers or Red Ball high tops pushing at a black beetle or furry caterpillar with a small twig wondering just what it was like to be one as the lazy skies of August passed overhead? (Oh... my bad! That must have been me… heehee.) Well, now here’s our chance…of sorts. We get to see the human environment from the perspective of a bug. A cockroach to be precise, close up and personal. There are many other critters, which abound throughout Bad Mojo’s universe. From ants, spiders, silverfish and slugs to catfish, mice and other vermin, this game is an exterminators delight.
As the “cockroach” we will travel from room to room, and believe me this is a journey of epic proportions. But I will tell you, it’s best to take the short cuts through the drains and into the sewer when possible. Along the way, we’ll meet up with a plethora of others of our own kind, similar to the human condition in the subway of Manhattan at rush hour. A word of warning however, for we also will occasionally come across other species of vermin which may or may not take the view that we are higher up on the food chain than they are. So be careful as you creep along your trek. Your life depends on it.
The human characters in Bad Mojo are not to be missed either. While FMV or Full Motion Video in many games have taken hard hits as cheesy, pitiful, embarrassingly poor acting, and the like, it’s important to note the difference between “a side of ham served up with rotten eggs” and “True Melodrama”. I was pleased to find Bad Mojo contained the latter. This type of “over the top stage acting” works well within the confines of the piece and is the perfect foil for the ludicrously dark humor that the game evokes from the player. It works so well with the all the other elements of the game, as matter of fact, you come away satisfied in total and not just “whistling the set” (sorry, couldn’t resist another theatrical term).
Dr. Roger Samms: A Young Entomologist who resides in a small apartment located above a bar in San Francisco known as Eddie’s On The Waterfront. Roger seems to be one of those unfortunate souls who have had the "Kick Me" sign permanently placed upon him since his infancy. This isn't to say that his parents were actively responsible for his series of unfortunate events, which ultimately shapes his psyche. It's just that $%^& happens.
When we first meet Roger, he seems angry, resentful, lonely and desperate. While an Entomologist by trade with a special interest for cockroaches, he has no love for them in "human" form. During the progression of the game, as the plot narrative unfolds we’ll learn that Dr Samms has been the victim all his life; a mother lost to him at childbirth, a father releasing his parental rights, an abusive “Mother Superior” during his stay at the local orphanage ...and while he feels in his heart that he has been "hard done to...” Dr Samms still strives for success and recognition throughout his adolescence and young adulthood through his fascination with the sciences, “Entomology “ or the study of insects, cockroaches in particular.
As he grows into manhood, he chooses this insect as his field of expertise. But loneliness still eats away at him as his career climbs the buggy ladder. Dr Samms discovers a new formula for a powerful pesticide, which could, in his mind, very well revolutionize the industry but comes up against a brick wall when his boss gives his project the old thumbs down. So, he decides to show 'em all by absconding with $1,000,000.00 dollars in grant money and wing his way southward to Mexico City. He’ll show ‘em, he’ll show ’em all.
Eddie Battito: When “Eddie”, Dr Samms’ landlord makes his appearance, it is clear that he has “issues.” Now, if first impressions count for anything, one might take an unfaltering dislike to Eddie as he comes across slovenly, gritty and slightly aggressive towards Dr. Samms very much like the environment we are about to be caught up in. But wait, for after a few scenes have past, you’ll see more of his character through past and present situations and come to realize why Eddie is the way he is and the motivations behind his actions. He’s really a rather likable old coot. Well, at least Franz seems to think so.
The Oracle: A spirit known only as The Oracle, being a sort of a full “Greek Chorus” citing clues and offering directions to the beleaguered Roger as he makes his way reduced to the simplest of terms scrambling and crawling throughout his journey into his own self-discovery. She is also the symbolic catalyst, which drives the story onward to each of its multiple conclusions.
Angelina Marie Battito: Who is Angelina, anyway? Ah haha! That would be telling, now wouldn’t it? Suffice it to say that this particular character is actually the pinnacle of the storyline. Angelina is somewhat of a poignant memory for both Roger and Eddie to come to terms with.
Franz: The feline pet of Roger’s, who because well, since cats are superb predators, becomes Dr Samms’ nemesis during his life as a creepy-crawly. You can’t fault him for it…it’s in his nature. There are some things which one has to accept.
While there are a few other characters scattered throughout the story, these five are truly the main characters through which most dramatic license occurs. And what license they take!
A Few of My Favorite Lines
“Don’t push me, Old Man!”
Michael Sommers, who has played much from character roles in Nash Bridges to Mousehunt and Patch Adams, is wonderfully over the top with his melodramatic style as the frazzled Dr. Roger Samms and also as another character, which I can’t mention here for reasons that will become apparent to you once you play Bad Mojo. You’ll see as he puts his entire lanky body and soul into every piece of his portrayal as the self-absorbed Entomologist. His very Chaplinesque style and its delivery was quite hysterically entertaining to watch.
“Don’t forget to lock it. Get it? Lock it! Mhuhaahaahaaaaa!”
Mike Gilliam should also be mentioned here as a definite plus to the talent pool for the production. A veteran stage performer, most recently seen in episodes of The Street (2000), Mike Gilliam adds much to the hubris of the plot as he creates the tortured and guilt ridden Eddie Battito.
“Do not fear me, little one…”
Susan Volkan rounds out the principal cast as Angelina Marie Battito, the loving Spirit who haunts Eddie Battito. And also plays The Oracle. Her delivery is smooth and even as the Oracle and as I mentioned earlier, this character is symbolic of Roger’s suppressed knowledge and true identity. This comes forth through the guise of “The Traditional Greek Chorus” reminiscent of Antigone and Oedipus Rex and although I doubt very much that the writers realized this at the time, it fits closely with this style of Classic Theatre.
The game play technically as mentioned earlier is a true joy to operate for a keyboard driven game. Just use the directional keys to move the cockroach along its path. Very simple and never intrudes on the visual impact of the surroundings. Well Done, gentleman, well done. As you progress further into the inner workings and situations of Bad Mojo you’ll find that there are a number of puzzles and riddles to solve. The clever thing of it here is that while they may be varied in style, they still all make sense and seem to have a cause and effect from one area to the next and of course for the outcome of the game.
You’ll find many different types of puzzles, all done from the cockroach’s point of view, such as: The Spider Challenge, The Dance at the Roach Motel, The Attack of the Electronic Whale, Avoiding Franz, Getting Rid Of Franz, Spiking Eddie’s Beer, Where’s the Kitchen?, Fix the Radio, Meter Man!, The Garbage Can Maze, The Refrigerator Conduit Maze, The Bad Mojo Sewer Room, The Razor Jam, How ‘bout some Chili? And the infamous Let’s Make a Paper Trail, just to name a few. All quite entertaining and highly addictive.
In addition to these various conundrums are the “Eye Glyphs” scattered around various parts of the gaming world. These symbols are triggers to either additional videos or riddles from the Oracle, all of which give significant clues about Roger and his life. None should be missed.
The Companion DVD
This is a fantastic idea. I for one, love when I purchase a DVD movie as I always look forward to the “behind the scenes” background information which can be provided. It’s great to see that Vincent Carrella and the rest of the Bad Mojo crew had decided to follow suit with Bad Mojo Redux. It made the game that much more exciting to play for me.
The DVD is divided into three sections:
The Making of The Game
This section is jammed packed with Videos on the background of the game itself, interviews with Vincent Carrella, Phil Simon, Dan Meblin, Alex Louie and Larry Chandler. Cockroach Encounters (absolutely hilarious!) Make sure that you check out Drew Huffman’s family beach pictures. They are not to be missed! There is even a clip from their promotional announcement of the original game on Good Morning America.
This section is further subdivided into an intriguing Commentary of the cut scenes with Vincent Carrella, Phillip Simon and Alex Louie making the verbal observations. Another section offers a look at the Conceptual Art, which went into the production itself, and even includes maps and blueprints of the games universe, splendidly interesting for those of you who absolutely hate mazes! There’s a Storyboard section, which I found absolutely intriguing. The Gallery also offers some excellent screenshots of worthy note and of course here you will find The Credits as well. Great Stuff!
This section subdivides the Bad Mojo’s universe into various sections and offers an interesting visual walkthrough of how to traverse the game without giving away the store.
Some gamers, I’m sure will tell you that because the adventure does lean toward the linear there isn’t any replay value. I have one word to say about that sort of comment: WRONG! This game has multiple endings, and even if it didn’t, the replay value is there just for the visuals and music alone. Speaking of multiple endings many people think that there are only three endings, but I found a fourth, I hope you find it as well.
I will tell you that while I do have the original version of Bad Mojo I am forever grateful to Vincent Carrella, Phillip Simon and the rest of the Production Team for creating Bad Mojo Redux. Both games are keepers for me. My only wish is that that someday soon there will be more like it.
I personally intend to always have this game loaded and ready to go, if for nothing else, for the sheer fact that when my husband tells me that the house just isn’t clean enough I can whip out this game and say,
“Not clean enough, huh? … you want to see not clean enough, pal?… I’ll show you not clean enough!!! Have a lookie see over here at this!”
…I can just imagine his face as he views Eddie’s kitchen.
Thank you, thank you for this wild adventure!
Developer: Pulse Entertainment
Publisher: Got Game Entertainment LLC
Released: December 2004PC Requirements:
PIII, 800Mhz, 50Mb RAM
8x CD-ROM Drive
24bit/32bit Color Display
DVD ROM Drive to view
The Companion DVD.
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 2002 with Service Pack 1
Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz
512MB DDR Memory
Video: 64MBNVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400 AGP
Sound: Creative SB Live
DirectX Version: 9.0b
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For Questions or Comments Please write to: INFERNO Copyright ©2 /2005 INFERNO
Graphics used with permission of Pulse Entertainment
All rights reserved.