From the March 1996 issue of CD-ROM Today

Bad Mojo

By David English

Some games take a while to warm up to, while others grab you by the shoulders, give you a good shake, and win you over right away. Bad Mojo goes for the shoulders. You'll delight in running around as a cockroach in a dilapidated hotel and bar, even though in the back of your mind you'll be thinking it's the most disgusting game you've ever seen.

That's right—you play the game as a cockroach. As the story begins, you're Dr. Roger Samms, a scientist who develops deadly pesticides. Just as you're about to leave for Mexico, an ancient locket transforms you into a cockroach. Why were you changed into the kind of insect you had worked so hard to destroy? Why were you planning to leave the country with a case full of money? And who is the mysterious woman pictured in the locket? There's mystery afoot as you scurry through six cavernous rooms in search of clues to your former identity and peculiar dilemma.

Along the way, you'll encounter boric acid, pesticides, fly paper, wet paint, a roach motel, scalding-hot water pipes, a terrifying house cat, a gas stove, and other insect-sized hazards. You'll find you can push some objects around with your armor-like head as you try to outsmart a hungry spider, drunken landlord, and vicious rat. You'll also encounter a friendly cockroach, slug, silverfish, and mouse, who will explain the perils that lie ahead. These creatures speak in mythic terms about the powerful objects that influence their lives. As you begin to see the human world through their eyes, a vacuum cleaner becomes a "wind whale" with a great "blow hole," and a bathroom urinal becomes a "porcelain god."

Especially impressive is the way you move your cockroach character as it scurries across the oddly-familiar landscape. Pulse Entertainment has combined 2-D and 3-D graphics in a way that lets you realistically move around pipes and table ledges using only your arrow keys. More than two years in development, Bad Mojo has more than 800 2D and 3D scenes for satisfying game play, as well as more than 35 minutes of live-action video for plot and clues.

Comparisons with Myst are inevitable. Both contain a huge, multifaceted world that's visually stunning. Both involve searches for clues that will essentially explain how this strange, new world operates, and both use beautifully-rendered, limited-motion graphics for game play while saving full-motion video for plot development. Like Myst, Bad Mojo has a mythic core, even if it's wrapped in a sordid and sometimes disturbing environment. If Myst is like a Steven Spielberg film—serene, self-assured, and safe—then Bad Mojo is like a David Lynch film: quirky and surreal, yet strangely engaging. Pulse reports that its focus groups described Bad Mojo as "Myst meets Blue Velvet." It's a great summary of what's good about the game, and, in my book, it is high praise indeed.

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