Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mariann Wilson
The Adventure Begins
If you are looking for the type of game that is easy on the eyes and ears, an adventure in which fluffy happy little bunnies frolic to and fro, or a game that offers 3D arcade shooting sequences, spiffy intricate scenic dissolves, complex puzzles that go absolutely nowhere and pretty eye candy to revel in... this ainít 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 oí 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), that 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, Iím sorry... donít know what the 'willies' are? Thatís that feeling you get when the weather is so suffocatingly clammy outside 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 on 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 your warm moist skin. And... oh, ok, ok! Iíll stop. Bad Mojo Redux is the remake of the 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 (Full Motion Video) 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 Iíd 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 640 X 480 screen resolution. The nice thing about it is that 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 24 bit color. Mine are set at 32 bit and the game runs like magic after a few minor tweaks. Once youíve installed Bad Mojo, simply check the boxes in the Compatibility Tab for the following: Display Setting: run in 640 X 480 Screen Resolution and Disable Text Services. In the Input Settings, turn off Advanced Text Services if you have it. Since I have DirectX 9b, 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! Thatís right... donít think I donít 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 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 virtual smelly, fetid universe in a 20% larger screen. It just doesnít 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 through the halls of 'Eddieís 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 Windows XP. This means that XPíers will have a choice to either set the screen resolution to the original 640 X 480 via the Compatibility Tab on the executable file if that is their wish, or do nothing and have it run like a snap with their own system's default screen resolution. Who says roach creators arenít beautiful?
The Good Stuff
Plot Exposition... It has to go somewhere
Why? The answer in my mind is quite simple really. Itís the solid storyline and interesting use of plot exposition and scenic design. Visually stunning in its portrayal of a dilapidated old bar and grill known as 'Eddieís On The Waterfront' located at the bottom of a San Francisco bridge, Bad Mojo lures you into its nightmare world of things you donít 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. Itís waiting to be discovered, whether itís 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 on the porcelain precipices of an old decaying bathtub. The story is there for you to find as you uncover Dr. Roger Sammsí 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 simply for the puzzlesí 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 Stoneís tensely brilliant off-beat musical underscore, and the gritty, squalid artwork and virtual world of 'Eddieís 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, and you have the makings of a first rate adventure game. (I swear you could almost taste the smell of it.) Like the wonderfully great theatrical pieces of yesteryear such as Gold in the Hills and Buster Keatonís The General, combined with the angst of Kafka and mixed with the inspirational insanity of Lynchís Blue Velvet, and we have the makings of great theatre here.
The Creepy Crawlies
Oh, come on... who hasnít wondered as a child, while sitting on our front stoop in our seersucker shorts and dirty white PF Flyers or Red Ball high tops and pushing at a black beetle or furry caterpillar with a small twig, 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 hereís our chance... of sorts. We get to see the human environment from the perspective of a bug. A cockroach to be precise, up close and personal. And there are many other critters that abound throughout Bad Mojoís universe. From ants, spiders, silverfish and slugs to catfish, mice and other vermin, this game is an exterminator's 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 this, itís best to take the short cuts through the drains and into the sewer when possible. Along the way weíll 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 on your trek. Your life depends on it.
The human characters in Bad Mojo are not to be missed either. While FMV (or Full Motion Videos) in many games have taken hard hits as being cheesy, pitiful, embarrassingly poor acting, and the like, itís important to note the difference between 'a side of ham served up with rotten eggs' and 'True Melodrama'. I was pleased to find that Bad Mojo contained the latter. This type of over-the-top stage acting works well within the confines of the piece and it is the perfect foil for the ludicrously dark humor that the game evokes for the player. It works so well with the all the other elements of the game, as matter of fact, that you come away satisfied in total and not just 'whistling the set' (Sorry... couldnít 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 Eddieís On The Waterfront. Roger seems to be one of those unfortunate souls who have had the 'Kick Me' sign permanently placed upon them since infancy. This isn't to say that his parents were actively responsible for the series of unfortunate events that ultimately shaped his psyche. It's just that $%^& happens.
When we first meet Roger, he seems angry, resentful, lonely and desperate. Although an entomologist by trade with a special interest in cockroaches, he has no love for them while in 'human form'. As the plot narrative unfolds during the progression of the game, we learn that Dr. Samms has been the victim his entire 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 with his fascination for the sciences and 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 that 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 winging his way southward to Mexico City. Heíll show Ďem, heíll show íem all.
Eddie Battito: When Eddie, Dr. Sammsí 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 because he comes across as 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 passed youíll 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. Heís really a rather likable old coot. Well, at least Franz seems to think so.
The Oracle: A spirit known only as 'The Oracle' who functions as sort of a full 'Greek Chorus', citing clues and offering directions to the beleaguered Roger, as he makes his way scrambling and crawling while reduced to the simplest of terms, throughout his journey and into his own self-discovery. She is also the symbolic catalyst that drives the story onward to each of its multiple conclusions.
Angelina Marie Battito: Who is Angelina anyway? Ah haha! That would be telling, now wouldnít 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 who... well, because cats are superb predators... becomes Dr. Sammsí nemesis during his life as a creepy-crawly. You canít fault him for it... itís in his nature. There are some things that one just has to accept.
While there are a few other characters scattered throughout the story, these five are truly the main characters through whom most of the dramatic license occurs. And what license they take!
A Few of My Favorite Lines
"Donít 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 that I canít mention here for reasons that will become apparent to you once you play Bad Mojo. Youíll see, as he puts his entire lanky body and soul into every piece of his portrayal of the self-absorbed entomologist. His very Chaplinesque style and its delivery was quite hysterically entertaining to watch.
"Donít forget to lock it. Get it? Lock it! Mhuhaahaahaaaaa!"
Mike Gilliam should also be mentioned here as a definite plus in 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 she also plays The Oracle. Her delivery is smooth and even as the Oracle, and as I mentioned earlier, this character is symbolic of Rogerís 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.
As mentioned earlier, technically the gameplay 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, gentlemen, well done.) As you progress further into the inner workings and situations of Bad Mojo, youíll find that there are a number of puzzles and riddles to solve. The clever thing about 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.
Youíll find many different types of puzzles, all done from the cockroachís 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 Eddieís Beer, Whereís the Kitchen?, Fix the Radio, Meter Man!, The Garbage Can Maze, The Refrigerator Conduit Maze, The Bad Mojo Sewer Room, The Razor Jam, How Ďbout some Chili?, and the infamous Letís Make a Paper Trail, just to name a few. All quite entertaining and highly addictive. In addition to these various conundrums, there 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 that can be provided. Itís 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 jam packed with videos on the background of the game itself, and interviews with Vincent Carrella, Phil Simon, Dan Meblin, Alex Louie and Larry Chandler. Cockroach Encounters is absolutely hilarious! And make sure that you check out Drew Huffmanís 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 on the cut scenes, with Vincent Carrella, Phillip Simon and Alex Louie making the verbal observations. Another section offers a look at the 'Conceptual Art' that went into the production, and even includes maps and blueprints of the game's universe, splendidly interesting for those of you who absolutely hate mazes! Thereís 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 universe into various sections, and offers an interesting visual walkthrough of how to traverse the game without giving away the store.
Some gamers, Iím sure, will tell you that because the adventure does lean toward the linear there isnít any replay value. I have one word to say about that sort of comment: WRONG! This game has multiple endings, and even if it didnít, the replay value is there just for the visuals and the 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 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 than when my husband tells me that the house just isnít clean enough, I can whip out this game and say, "Not clean enough, huh?... You want to see not clean enough, pal?... Iíll show you not clean enough!!!... Have a lookie see over here at this!" I can just imagine his face as he views Eddieís kitchen.
Thank you, thank you, for this wild adventure!
© 2004 Mariann Wilson
Original 1996 release developed and published by Pulse Entertainment. New release developed (1996 - 2004) by Pulse (was Pulse Entertainment) and published in North America by Got Game Entertainment.
Rated: T for Teen 13+ (blood, mild violence)
Minimum System Requirements:
Original 1996 Release:
PC: 486 66 MHz Processor; Windows 3.1 / 95; 8 MB RAM; 2X CD-ROM Drive with 300 KB per second Transfer Rate; Super VGA (256 Colors) Graphics Card; Sound Card; 20 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Keyboard and Mouse
To Install and play Under Windows XP:
Hybrid Win / MAC CD ROM! (Hybrid means PC and MAC versions are on the same CD.)
PC: Pentium III 800 MHz Processor; Windows 98 / 2000 / XP; 8X CD-ROM Drive; 24 Bit Color Video Card; Sound Card; 50 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Keyboard and Mouse
Mac: Macintosh G3 or Better; System 9.0 or OSX Classic Mode; 8X CD-ROM Drive; 24 Bit Color Video Card; Sound Card; 50 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Keyboard and Mouse
Where To Buy This Game:
Original 1996 Release:
The best chance for finding this game would be at used software places or auctions or trading sites. Our Places To Buy Games page may be able to assist you in finding a copy of this wonderful game.
OR: see our Places To Buy Games for other sellers around the world
Walkthroughs or Hints: