Bad Day on the Midway(1995)
OverviewContributing Artists

The Residents' Bad Day on the Midway CD-ROM from Inscape is a sort-of sequel to their earlier Freak Show CD-ROM. As with its predecessor, Bad Day's animation was created by Jim Ludtke (who also worked on Gingerbread Man). The project was produced by Ludtke's wife, Sharon Ludtke, with executive production by Michael Nash, the founder of Inscape.

Bad Day on the Midway has another thing in common with its predecessor, Freak Show: was a fast critical success in the multimedia industry - it won two Macromedia International User Conference People's Choice Awards: "Best Entertainment Title" and "Most Innovative Use of Multimedia". It is the first title to win more than one People's Choice Award.

Unlike the band's previous multimedia works, Bad Day on the Midway is a genuine goal-oriented game. Freak Show allowed the user to explore the tent and trailers of the album's characters, but there was no overall plot -- just the various stories about the freaks. In Bad Day, as with Freak Show, each of the characters has his or her own story, but there is also an overall plot involving them all, in which they have to deal with the fate of the midway, a man in a coma, the future of the midway, a psychotic killer, plague, and the IRS.

The characters voices are provided by several actors, including Diana Alden, Molly Harvey, and John Sanborn, who produced The Eyes Scream for The Residents. In order to enhance the realism of the characters on screen, the actors who portray them were filmed and the images of their real eyes and mouths were superimposed on the computer-generated three-dimensional models of the characters on-screen.

Jim Ludtke's artwork and animation is even richer and more engaging than his Freak Show work. The midway is a riot of color, from the bright neon signs of the attractions to the dull earth tones of the buildings behind the lights.

The various midway attractions themselves are strange and twisted, with things like the "Kill a Commie Shooting Gallery", the "Torture's Top Ten", and the "Marvels of Mayhem". Each features original graphic art and most include an on-screen "graphic story", as do each of the characters. The artists are all outstanding and include several people who have contributed to other Residential projects.

When playing Bad Day on the Midway, you take on the roles of the various characters, looking at the midway world from inside their heads. You can jump from one to another when they meet while you explore the midway world. As events unfold, the CD-ROM program changes the character's goals and actions, making the interactions more complex and unpredictable than those in a regular adventure game. To add another level of chaos, The Residents had a randomizer built into the program so that the exact way the goals change varies from play to play -- it is practically impossible to get the game to follow the same course in play after play. This complex programming was handled very ably by Iain Lamb.

Even if you manage to get to the end without being killed by the psychotic killer or the other dangers on the Midway, you aren't done with the game. For one thing, there are all of the animated stories about the characters to search out (there are eight of them), not to mention the other attractions (Torture's Top Ten, Marvels of Mayhem, and the Kill a Commie Shooting Gallery (each have their own animated artwork). There are also multiple endings (in addition to "You Have Been Killed By The Psychotic Killer" and other generic "Game Over" endings, which you'll see soon enough): some of them happy endings (sort of), and some decidedly not. There are at five of these, some of which can only happen under very exacting circumstances, and you'll probably want to see them all.

There is also a companion guide-book by Jeff Sengstack which was published by Prima Publishing. It features extra background on the story of the CD-ROM and the characters in it, as well as information on the band and their philosophy.

Bad Day on the Midway: The Official Strategy Guide(1995)

Written by Jeff Sengstack, this guide to the Bad Day on the Midway CD-ROM was published in December 1995, by Prima Publishing. It includes a game walk-through and playing tips, as you'd expect, but it also has extra background on the characters, expanding on the stories on the disc, as well as a history of The Residents and their philosophy (summarized in a section called The Tao of The Residents) and a discussion of the creation of the game featuring interviews with Jim Ludtke, Iain Lamb, as well as some of Ludtke's development sketches.

Ugly Liberation
A short story about the arrival of Lottie and Ted at the Midway

A Bad Day on the Midway
A full-colour tour of the game

Midway Attractions and Exhibits
All of the attractions, again in full color

Secrets and Special Events
Play tips and hints on how to get to avoid the Midway's dangers and get to all of the stories and endings

Midway Mavens
Biographies of all of the characters. Each includes a short introduction (suitable for reading before playing the game) followed by a longer, detail story based on the graphic stories on the CD-ROM as well as notes from The Residents and the artists.

Who and What are The Residents
A history of the band, including an outline of their philosophy called The Tao of The Residents.

Behind the Scenes with Jim Ludtke and Iain Lamb
A history of the game with commentary from two of the major collaborators.

Have a Bad Day(1996)

The Residents Have a Bad Day is the soundtrack album from the highly successful Bad Day on the Midway CD-ROM game. Its format is not quite that of a traditional soundtrack album. Instead of just "stringing a bunch of tunes together," the band used Bad Day on the Midway as the inspiration for a suite of (mostly instrumental) songs. Have a Bad Day is an album based on Bad Day on the Midway, rather than an album of music from the CD-ROM.

Bad Day on the Midway novel(2012)

From the minute you wake up, the world is not quite right. A power failure caused your alarm to go off an hour late, the last piece of bread burns in the toaster and there's no milk for your coffee. Immediately after breaking a shoestring, you find a stain on your favorite shirt-the one you're wearing on a hot lunch date. When four total strangers say, "You look tired" on the way to work, you realize it's not going to get any better.

Sooner or later it happens to everyone, but most bad days don't include plague death, being stalked by a serial killer and having your business shut down by the IRS. It may be true that no one escapes death and taxes, but they're not usually a one-two punch. While THE RESIDENTS' BAD DAY ON THE MIDWAY may be a little more extreme than most, its aim is the same as any other bad day: SURVIVAL!

Based on the award winning CD-Rom game, Bad Day on the Midway is a relentless roller coaster ride of imagination, dark humor and surprise - delivered as only The Residents can... a Disneyland of the damned.