My life as a roach, or Bad Mojo Redux (1996)

 If you've ever wanted to play as a cockroach your choices in games are rather limited. There's two I can think of, and I'm pretty sure there's not that many besides them. The first is Bad Mojo, the second is Journey of a Roach. Here I'm talking of the first one.

Bad Mojo is one of those bizarre ideas, that just work probably because they are so bizarre. It's technically a bit flawed game, mainly because the controls feel a bit off, but otherwise, it's relatively interesting environment puzzler, which I confess, I went through by using a walkthrough on some points. But not because it's a supremely difficult game, far from it: I used walkthrough only because there's so much ground to cover in it. And that because the controls are what they are (or those are my excuses at least).

The story of the game seems simple, but at the same time, it's a bag of bizarre. You've just robbed some money from your employer and are planning to escape to Mexico when your locket makes you pass out. When you wake up, you find that you're a cockroach. So now you need to figure out why that has happened and how you'll be able to return to your human form. The game world itself is a mixture of photos and pre-rendered scenes, but the plot is told in a full FMV glory. Bad Mojo actually is one of those rare cases where the FMV was used right; not as a gameplay mechanic, but as means to tell a story.

The first thing you learn in Bad Mojo is, that the world is huge and a dangerous place when you are a roach. The game itself takes place in a couple of rooms, but as you are a roach each room is humongous. They're filled with obstacles, like roach poison, water, spilt paints and other sticky liquids. You can also climb the walls, at least some of the time, and go inside objects, like radios or gas ovens and walk under the mattresses as well as a top of them. So while in terms of real-life locations, the game area wouldn't be that big for a human, for a roach those feel like several city blocks.

The big issues I had with the game are the controls. You move the roach by using either arrow keys or WASD, but the moving around feels a bit jittery and clumsy. You'll spend some time trying to steer the little insect into a right location and sometimes places that look like are accessible aren't. Like at times there seem to be walls or table legs you'd assume you can climb, but in the end, you just end up hitting your head on the wall and you'll need to backtrack.

Originally Bad Mojo was released in 1996, but the Redux version you can buy now days is technically improved. The biggest difference to the original is the remastered FMV footage and the switch to true colour instead of 256 colours the original used.

In a sense, Bad Mojo feels like it belongs more to the current era of games than it ever did in the 90's. Back then it was the odd one out, with a subject matter that was vastly different from what other game developers were doing. And in that, it also stood out. Now that indie developers have risen again, the gamesphere is full of even more obscure and bizarre titles than Bad Mojo is, and thus it kinda gets lost among them.

So if you are into more bizarre games, Bad Mojo is a good pick. It's not overly long, but it is atmospheric and the puzzles are relatively well done. If you get past the controls, you might find it pretty entertaining as well.

Get it from GOG or Steam.