Bad Mojo is perhaps the first game which has the filthy arthropoda as the protagonist.

User Rating: 8 | Bad Mojo PC

Declaring loudly on the packaging that the player will be assuming the role of a cockroach does not make for a very good first impression, but it would definitely pique the interest of more than a few people looking for something different.

Bad Mojo benefits from a well-written plot involving understandably angst-ridden characters with shattered dreams, though the story does get marred a bit by poor acting and a few other bits, which would be discussed later. In any case, the plot provides a satisfying setting for the game's theme of redemption (of sorts, somewhat loosely).

After getting through the prologue involving a loud and very rude couple, the player is thrust into the world around the aforementioned pest. The player is treated to the filthy indoors environment that encourages the infestation of all manners of ugly bugs - as well as the dangers posed by such an environment to a creature with a short lifespan such as the cockroach.

The puzzles in the game mostly involve household items that cockroaches can interact with, with the consequences of failure usually involving death (though there are no death animations included, done so in favor of a quick respawn). These puzzles usually require observation of other creatures in the same screen - a design of solutions to puzzles that were sorely missing in other adventure games at the time, which tended to orient too much around inventories of seemingly random items and trial and error solutions.

The solutions to puzzles in this game is very satisfying; the player is usually rewarded with juicy bits on the backstory (as well as cringe-worthy live-acted cutscenes) - some of the more amusing being death animations or sounds of creatures that would otherwise prey on the player character.

Despite the very interesting and amusing theme, the gameplay however is not completely tight. There are more than a few moments in the game where slippery controls resulted in frustrating game-over screens and cutscenes. This is especially so for segments where loss of control is not an intended wrench in the mechanics of the game.

Furthermore, despite having knowledge of cockroaches and the dangers that they face in their everyday lives, there are items or regions on screen that do not immediately seem lethal to the protagonist; this often results in unexpected and sometimes cheap deaths. A certain good example of such a design flaw is an encounter with a feline character that happens to have a very strange (& very unhygienic) choice of diet.

Moreover, the actors for the cutscenes are rather poor - cringe-worthy in fact. Fortunately, as implied earlier, the very good writing saves the story from becoming B-grade. However, that is not to say that the story is all great and coherent. It makes for poor direction, for there are times that the story and narration do not give much clues on what the player is supposed to do, e.g. a certain act of arson in the game does not receive much in the way of justification by the story, at least until later, where it still does not make much sense anyway.

In any case, Bad Mojo is a surprisingly amusing game. Its most important aspect is the design of its puzzles and the solutions to these puzzles, all of which deviate from the pitfalls of puzzle design in adventure games that all too often involve tedious pixel hunts and clogged inventories. This game certainly posed a good lesson to some adventure game developers, and it undoubtedly contributed to the setting of pars in the design of games in this genre.

Note: Due to the ingenuity of the game's theme and gameplay, it has been re-released in 2004 for the modern PC OSes.