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3 1/2 (out of 4) stars from HomePC
4 stars from Computer Gaming World
A- from PC Games
84% from PC Gamer
Gold - Strategy/Puzzle Game Title from New Media's 1996 Invision Awards
Play Bad Mojo for a few hours and you'll never look at a cockroach the same way again. In fact, I'm not sure you'll look at anything in quite the same way after you steer your sleek-bodied, chitinous little alter ego over, under, around, and through some of the most visually disturbing, nasty terrain this side of a New Jersey garbage scow.
In Bad Mojo, the creative yahoos at Pulse Entertainment have taken Kafka's insect-metamorphosis concept and applied it to a puzzle-laced, Myst-like adventure. They've dropped the whole thing into a nauseatingly stunning landscape of dead rats, cigarette butts, rust, brackish water, and used razor blades.
But once you get over that first queasy gagging reflex, you're off on a remarkable and quite unique adventure. The game's artwork is superbly realistic, right down to your roach's shifting shadow. And there are plenty of good, solid puzzles, as well as an air of mystery that will totally captivate you.
The action is set inside a dilapidated brick building along San Francisco's waterfront. In an upstairs apartment, a rather agitated entomologist named Roger Samms is packing a suitcase full of cash, preparing for a hasty exit out of the country. But when he picks up an antique locket, it's Bad Mojo time--a twisted spell suddenly transforms him into a cockroach.
That's all you've got to go on as you begin to explore six different rooms in the grimy, garbage-ridden building. You're not quite sure what you're supposed to do, but you are very sure that you don't like being Roger the Roach.
Navigating as a roach through a rundown building offers an entirely new perspective on life and all sorts of life threats, from aggressive rats and spiders to a gas burner or a slab of flypaper. Roaches, on the whole, may ultimately outlive all of humanity and inherit the earth, but individual roaches lead nasty, solitary, brutal lives. Especially in Bad Mojo.
Success in the game requires that you understand your limitations. Your arms are too short to box with anybody, so don't look for any Mortal Kombat-style combo attacks or finishing moves. You're a roach. About all you can do is use your head...in more ways than one. In addition to thinking creatively, you'll also have to push things around with your little noggin. Useless bottle caps become bridges if pushed in the right direction. And just imagine what you can do with a cigarette butt.
Part of Bad Mojo's appeal is being able to see the world through different eyes. One of the ingenious elements throughout the game is how the designers force you to think differently about your surrounding environment. Rarely can you solve puzzles by obvious, human means.
Another engaging aspect of the game is the allure of the mystery itself. Immediately there are the obvious questions--Why Roger? Why a roach?--but soon, a larger mystery begins to unfold as you receive clues from an oracle who helps you along the way. There are also a few kindred insect spirits who provide other pieces of information.
But for the most part you'll be entertained by using your little roach wits to figure out how to solve the various puzzles in each of the six rooms. The puzzles are mostly very well constructed and fair. By this I mean that you don't run into puzzles that are completely unsolvable or require such arcane knowledge as the name of Jupiter's third moon. This isn't to say that the puzzles are easy. But they're not impossible.
Clearly, some gamers are not going to enjoy Bad Mojo's dirty, rundown, disgusting universe. And those who found Myst simply too static and slow-moving to enjoy will feel the same way about Bad Mojo. But with its exceptionally well-crafted artwork, the subtle complexities within its puzzles, and its unique atmosphere of mystery, I found myself completely drawn in.
Give this little roach game a chance to work its mojo on you.
By Selby Bateman. Selby Bateman has been writing about computer games and personal computers for over a dozen years. He is the former editor of PC Gamer, Computer Entertainment News, CD-ROM Today, Game Players, Compute, and several other technology magazines. He is also the co-author of two computer-game strategy books.
System Requirements PC: 486/66, 8MB RAM, mouse, Sound Blaster-compatible
sound cards supported, 2X CD-ROM drive, 20MB disk space, Windows 3.1
Computer Gaming World, June 1996
"A fascinating thing about Bad Mojo is the overhead view of yourself as the cockroach scurrying about as you move using the four arrow keys. The animation of the scuttling roach is remarkable. Its movements are extremely life-like, especially when it scuffles and struggles through a barrier, or when its legs are caught in something sticky. You aren't the only bug around; there are plenty of other animated roaches scuttling around the screen to keep you company. They don't interact with you, but provide an excellent atmosphere. Passing their broken bodies scattered all over the building gives a real sense of foreboding as you navigate through pest strips and roach motels."
"Bad Mojo centers around exploration and discovery, rather than action. There are puzzles, of course, but most of them aren't lethal. Some puzzles test your survival skills like navigating around a roach motel or killing a spider. Other puzzles are barrier problems, how do you get from the paper towel dispenser to the floor, when wet paint covers the walls? The rest just advance the plot and move you through your quest of finding a way to change yourself back into a human being. Since you have no hands, you can't manipulate objects in the usual way, but as a cockroach equipped with human intelligence, you aren't exactly helpless. It's amazing how many puzzles can be solved by pushing objects with your head.
"But there's more to this game than great graphics and puzzles. It's also a story about discovery and enlightenment. As our hero scurries from room to room, he quite practically gets a new perspective of himself, of his environment..."
"All in all, Bad Mojo is just the thing for gamers who truly hunger for something unique and totally off the beaten track. If anyone does crave a comparison, oddly enough, I'd say that Bad Mojo resembles Myst. Despite the difference in sensibilities, both games involve puzzles and exploration against stunning visual backdrops."
HomePC, March 1996
"Welcome to the underside of a seedy waterfront building at the base of San Francisco's Bay Bridge. And when we say underside, we mean it: In Bad Mojo, you'll poke around a basement, a toilet and a maggot-infested kitchen from the perspective of a cockroach.
"If that doesn't send you running for the Raid, and if you can deal with photo-realistic dead rats and spiders, the game will carry you on a joyous journey to the dark side. Bad Mojo means 'evil magic,' the sinister force that transformed Dr. Roger Samms into a roach. It's your job to uncover the power behind the spell and aid its unfortunate victim. (Aside form the obvious, parallels to Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis are few: Samms' cat is named Franz, and Roger Samms is almost an anagram for Gregor Samsa.)"
"Given the remarkable staying power of the average roach, the game allows you to be 'killed' up to three times per screen before you're tossed back tot he beginning of the game. That said, save often - some puzzles are less forgiving than the local exterminator."
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