Got Game Entertainment reincarnates Pulse Entertainment's Kafkaesque 1996 action-adventure with this 2004 "Director's Cut" edition. In Bad Mojo, players take the role of a small insect that must traverse the enormous, dangerous environment of a seedy city building.
Roger Samms, an entomologist, was just about to gain the recognition for which he yearned. Samms had been living in an apartment on top of Eddie's bar. However, he planned on leaving that night so he packed his bags and began to head out the door on his way to fame. In his haste, though, he forgot something -- a precious, mysterious medallion. As Samms picked up the medallion, he began to transform into someone or something else.
Players assume the role of Samms to crawl their way through Eddie's bar, listening and watching out for any clues about what just happened and figuring out how to return to human form. Featuring more than 800 scenes to explore, laced with puzzles, bugs, and dirt, Bad Mojo is an ambitious adventure game of epic proportions, -- especially from the perspective of a roach.
Got Game Entertainment, in association with Pulse Entertainment, has brought Bad Mojo into the new millennium. No more fussing with an ancient version of QuickTime and no more dialing the color palette down to a mere 256. For technical reasons, the best resolution is still 640×480, but that's the only hint remaining of the title's age. And once you're at that resolution, Bad Mojo will fill your screen and, in time, perhaps the darker parts of your dreams.
If the re-release had consisted of nothing more than restoring Bad Mojo's ability to play, without excessive tweaking, on current systems, that would have been reason enough to celebrate. But when, especially with regard to celebrating, is just enough ever really enough? Never! Fortunately, there's more and, in this case, the more takes the form of the companion DVD, which includes all sorts of goodies, including a section entitled "Goodies."
If you have never played Bad Mojo, resist the temptation to look at the DVD until you have finished the game. Or, if you can't resist, confine your viewing to the "Hints" section. Don't look at the "Making Bad Mojo" documentary, and don't look at the "Goodies." Think of Bad Mojo as a magic show and the other sections as peeks behind the curtain. Do you really want to know how all the tricks were done before you see the show? Enchantment is a rare state of mind and, when the infrequent opportunity comes along to fall into it, I like it straight, no chaser. Insights into how the machinery was arranged to produce the effects, while endlessly fascinating, belong after the show.
And in the case of Bad Mojo, the insights are indeed fascinating. Interviews with key members of the production team (Vinny Carrella, Director/Writer; Phill Simon, Producer; Alex Louie, Producer; Larry Chandler, Art Director; Dan Meblin, 3D Technical Director; Bill Preder, Audio Engineer), supported by concept art, screenshots and behind-the-scenes footage, detail, step-by-step, the process by which the original idea was nipped, tucked, shaped and adjusted to become the finished game. What emerges from the interviews is a portrait of a team committed to listening closely to what the game itself was saying about what it was and, of equal or perhaps greater importance, what it was not. As a consequence, there is nothing in Bad Mojo that feels out of place or tacked on. The game's uniqueness may have less to do with its provocative content than with the unwavering focus with which its concept was realized.
Art is a matter of choice and, in the case of computer games, the choices available often reflect technical limitations. Before Bad Mojo was Bad Mojo, it was a technical question: how to create a graphically rich game experience while not overwhelming the data streaming capacity of mid-1990s CD players. The solution was to come up with a small sprite-based character that would provide the game with clues as to the direction of the player and allow the preloading of backgrounds. Once the decision was made to make the lead character small, the next question was what form it should take. Would it be better for that character to be appealing or compelling? Appealing would have been the easier choice. Fortunately, The Roach Game crew made the edgier choice. Instead of turning into a ladybug, Dr. Roger Samms would turn into a roach.
And so on down the path. If the lead is a roach, what's the story? Where does the story take place? What sorts of things will the story require the roach to do? Or, turning the question around, now that the lead is a roach, how will the limitations of the lead shape the story? What sorts of puzzles could a player, controlling a roach, solve? And how should the player control the roach? If the direction of the exercise is toward photorealism, what sort of interface would make sense? Should there be any interface at all? And if there is no interface, how will players figure out what to do?
Those who snapped up Bad Mojo during its initial release had no trouble figuring out what to do. Use the cursor keys to drive the roach. Those who snap up Bad Mojo Redux will find that, in addition to the cursor keys, navigation can also be handled with W-A-S-D or I-J-K-L. One other menu change: instead of the cursor bringing up a Win3.1 menu bar at the top of the screen, the space bar now brings up the main menu.
The latest version of QuickTime is finally up to the graphic standard of the original Bad Mojo. And with the QuickTime portions no longer serving as chunky punctuation between the navigable areas, there is nothing to break the moody spell of Peter Stone's superb sound design. Stone found a line somewhere between processed ambient audio and techno that remains fresh, arresting and utterly appropriate.
For those who've never played the original, Bad Mojo Redux is a must-have. Load it up and see what all the shouting was about. For those who've played the Win3.1 version, Bad Mojo Redux is what the game should have looked like.
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