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Video Game / Bad Mojo

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All my life, I've felt helpless, cheated, stepped on. I was always the little man, the square peg, the forgotten one. But that night, everything was gonna change...
Roger Samms, Opening Narration

A.K.A The Roach Game.

Bad Mojo was a 1996 FMV game by Pulse Entertainment. In it, you play as a down-on-his-luck entomologist named Roger Samms. He lives in a seedy apartment in San Francisco and gets little to no respect from his landlord, Eddie Battito. As the game opens, Roger has embezzled money from a science loan and is preparing to skip town for Mexico City. However, as he is packing, Roger pulls out the locket he got from his deceased mother. The locket suddenly activates and unleashes bad mojo onto Roger, turning his soul into a cockroach. Now Roger must find out what's going on and how to reverse it, guided by a mysterious woman named Oracle within the locket.

The game was known for its very, very creepy visuals as you wander around the bar. Since you're playing as a cockroach, you're virtually helpless against larger enemies and the environment and thus have to find a way around the level that will let you pass safely.

Bad Mojo has the following tropes:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: Roger can use these to get around the bar, though one of them poses a hazard when the fan is turned on.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: Eddie's mattress has a small stash of money stuffed inside, and a bunch of coins fall out when he collapses into it.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: While Roger rents out a relatively fancy second floor apartment, Eddie appears to have made the bar's basement into his sleeping space, with a few pictures and an old radio for comfort.
  • But Thou Must!: A certain puzzle cannot be completed without shutting off the pilot light to a gas stove, inevitably causing the bar to be blown to bits. The ending is decided by who makes it out of the bar alive.
  • Cats Are Mean: The cat is actually not shown as mean. Roger treats it well, but when he has become a roach, it will try to eat it at any cost. And if it does, it will be shown as completely innocent. It's just an animal acting on instinct, after all.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The lit cigarette Eddie leaves in the bathroom is the key to getting the good ending; Roger needs to push it off the urinal and onto some paper towels, setting off the smoke alarm and waking Eddie up so he can get out of the bar before it goes up in flames.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything: Averted. Roger's main project revolves around creating a nicotine-based pesticide called "Balatapropid" to theoretically kill roaches forever. His limited range of equipment and increasing pressure from the university partly contributed to Roger's embezzlement at the start.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: The top of Roger's laboratory and some items on his desk are covered in cobwebs. Some also flutter when the air conditioning is on.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Roger and Eddie being father and son is pretty implausible. Some Lampshade Hanging is given by Eddie trying to wrap his head around it right before the bar explodes. Though the flat out supernatural elements in play lessen it.
  • Creepy Cockroach: The entire point of the game is Roger trying to navigate the bar while transformed into a cockroach.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: One of Roger's old toys that he still has from his childhood, and one of the only things that his mother left for him. It also triggers a nasty memory where a nun from his orphanage called it ugly and laughed when he cried.
  • Death by Childbirth: Roger's mother died when he was born. Eddie's wife similarly died when his estranged son was born. That's a big hint that Roger and Eddie are related.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: One of the locations to explore is the bar's restroom. Eddie painted the walls, but everything else still looks grimy. There's also the Rat King to contend with under the sink.
    • Roger's upstairs bathtub near the end isn't much better, if the papers strewn inside and clothes hung on the curtain are any indication.
  • Driven to Suicide: One flashback shows Eddie attempting to throw himself off the Bay Bridge. The Oracle talks him out of it.
  • Drone of Dread: The music in the first room of the game is an unsettling droning hum, mixed in with occasional distorted stings when hazards are nearby.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: While Roger's apartment living room is bright and relatively tidy, his laboratory and bathroom are messy and dimly lit, making things more unsettling than everywhere else in the bar.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are a number of hazards to Roger's roach form, from predators to roach traps to various household objects.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The track "Dischord" in the game's climax has tolling bells mixed in. Helps with the Oracle's warning that, "Time now has meaning and the bell tolls for thee."
  • Full Motion Video: All of the cutscenes are live-action, though the gameplay is computer graphics.
  • Goodies in the Toilets: The restroom has a news clipping on the wall, and Roger left some journal pages in his bathtub.
  • Golden Ending: Out of the four endings, only one ends on a happy note with Roger and Eddie escaping the gas explosion in their building, realizing they're related, and running off to Belize. Roger uses the money he stole from the university to buy his dad a beachside cantina and himself a lab for studying rain forest insects. And they lived Happily Ever After.
  • Haunted House: The bar appears to be haunted by the Oracle, possessing its various pests and animals to guide Roger.
    • This applies to Roger and Eddie as well in one of the bad endings.
  • Heroic Mime: Roger does plenty of talking as a human, but once he turns into a roach, he shuts up completely, since roaches can't talk.
  • Horrible Housing: Eddie's bar is a run-down, unsafe nightmare of a place, with fixtures dating back to the mid-20th century, including a wall full of razor blades, and a faulty gas-fired water heater.
  • Hub Level: The basement, where six drain pipes lead to different rooms in the bar, each unlocking as the player progresses.
  • Instant Sedation: When Eddie takes a few swigs of his beer that Roger spiked with a single sleeping pill, he falls flat on his bed in the span of a few seconds. At least he had enough time to tuck himself in first.
  • It Won't Turn Off: Subverted. The gas flame underneath the bar's water heater is constantly burning, but the cause lies with Eddie neglecting to maintain it, not anything supernatural.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Eddie is Roger's father, and the Oracle who helps Roger in the quest is actually Eddie's wife and Roger's mother.
  • Macro Zone: Of the normal setting/tiny character flavor; you're an ordinary man trapped in the body of a cockroach trying to navigate a seedy bar.
  • The Many Deaths of You: There's a lot of ways to get killed in this game, including getting caught in a roach trap, getting eaten by rats, or burning to death.
  • Meaningful Name: Roger Samms/Gregor Samsa, anyone?
    • Roger's pet cat is named Franz, to keep with the Kafka homage.
  • Mess of Woe: Eddie let the bar fall to pieces out of despair from losing his wife.
  • Multiple Endings: Four of them, but three are Downer Endings - If neither escape the bar before it explodes, they end up haunting the area once it's re-developed. If Roger escapes but Eddie doesn't, Roger is charged with Eddie's murder and committed to an asylum. If Eddie escapes but Roger doesn't, Eddie ends up a homeless drunk. If both escape, they achieve the Golden Ending.
  • Mysterious Backer: The Blattidae Group, a Swiss chemical company whom anonymously provided Roger's million-dollar science grant in hopes of funding his pesticide project. The university Roger works for is understandably concerned about the shady circumstances behind this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At one point in the game, you have to save a baby roach from the stove. Roger does so by blowing out the pilot light, which causes gas to leak through the building and ultimately destroying it in an explosion.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: One of Roger's childhood keepsakes is a drawing of himself as a baby stabbing his mother to death, signifying his guilt over her Death by Childbirth.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Eddie couldn't scrape together enough cash to renovate his bar, and several news clippings mention multiple bars being raided by police for safety code violations.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The amulet that Roger got from his late mother turns him into a cockroach, and ends up sending him on a quest that potentially leads to him reuniting with and reconciling with his father.
  • Pipe Maze: The fridge and stove have winding systems of pipes inside, and a discarded mass of cables in a trash can also acts as one.
  • The Plan: The Oracle using the roach quest to reunite Roger and Eddie.
  • Room Full of Crazy: One side of Roger's apartment contains a makeshift laboratory he'd set up in his research to kill roaches, with a wall littered with schematics, disturbing notes, and dozens of eyes clipped from random pictures.
  • Scenery Gorn: The filthy, dilapidated surroundings Roger navigates through the game are depicted in great detail, and give the game a unique (and highly unsettling) atmosphere.
  • Shout-Out: A news clipping hanging in the restroom contains an Iron Helix ad.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Increasingly ominous music plays in the last act of the game, to indicate the gas leak is about to reach the water heater's pilot light and burn down the bar.
  • Spirit Advisor: The Oracle provides cryptic hints on how to progress through each stage of the game.
  • Stalked by the Bell: In the final leg of the game, you only have a limited amount of time before the bar explodes from a gas leak catching fire.
  • The Television Talks Back: When Roger turns on his TV, the Oracle speaks to him on-screen.
  • Title Drop: "Something crazy happened when I looked at that necklace, that strange locket that was supposed to be my mother's. A weird feeling, like a twisted spell. Bad mojo."
  • Trash of the Titans: The bar is absolutely filthy, and because you're a roach, you get to see all of it in loving detail.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After you scare Franz away in Roger's room, you never see him again, not even in any of the endings. Considering the bar explodes in every ending, it likely didn't end well for him.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Rats are always bad news, and you should steer clear of them. No matter how dead they look.