An image of The BDOTMW attraction with all of it's characters headshots and names listed

Bad Day On The Midway is a CD-ROM game written and directed by The Residents. The game was developed and published by Inscape and was animated/designed by Jim Ludtke. It served as a sort of successor to the Residents earlier CD-ROM projects such as the Freak Show CD-ROM (which I covered on more here) and the Gingerbread Man CD-ROM.

Unlike the previous two CD-ROMS the Residents worked on, Bad Day On The Midway was an actual goal-oriented game with various routes and endings. Gameplay mostly consisted of point-and-click elements, somewhat reminiscent to it's predecessor, Freak Show which allowed the player to explore and interact within the environment and characters. However unlike Freak Show which while having a vauge story you can piece together that correlated with the story presented in the album, BDOTMW expanded more on this with each character in the game having their own unique stories and narrative to follow which all ultimately tied together in the overall plot. This alongside a time limit and a randomizer that varies on each run made this game a much more unique and chaotic experience compared to it's two previous predecessors.

While the original game was released in November 21st of 1995, a studio album which was a self contained album based of the game and it's soundtrack called "Have A Bad Day" would be released by the Residents in April of 1996. An official novel of the story under the same name as the game would also later be written and published by the group in October 20th, 2012 alongside a second remix album of the game's soundtrack called "Bad Day On The Midway: Reconsidered".

While an official strategy guide was published in the same year as the game called "Bad Day on the Midway: The Official Strategy Guide" that not only goes into tips and a walkthrough of the game but extra details on the stories and characters alongside some behind the scenes interviews with artists and programmers and some history of the Residents, an infosite on BDOTMW exists which not only provides a free downloadable version of the game alongside Freak Show which can be run on mordern software but extra tips and info the game. Link to the site here.

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While the story of BDOTMW is relatively simple, as usual with other Residents media, how it's told and potrayed is widely interesting especially in such a medium like this that wasn't innitially already based of a story from an album. There's already so much you can discover any which way you play the CD-ROM as every run is unique, not to mention the games mechanic in being able to look and playthrough the point of view of a different character thus being able to get different secrets and dialouge soley based off said character.

Having played this game a few times already and listening to the album Have a Bad Day I intend on making an analysis off the story and characters of Bad Day On The Midway.

If you're interested in the game or the story in any way I recommend going to the previous link above to play the game yourself or just looking up a silent playthrough of the game as well as maybe listening to the album. Do however take note this game has a pretty lengthy trigger list of topics that are covered in the game as usual with other Residents projects.

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Story and Characters

A poster/cover art of the game

Our game takes place in the titular roadside carnival attraction called the Midway, we take control of a young boy named Timmy, who is easily amused and clueless to most things. Through his eyes we are able to explore and traverse the Midway while meeting various performers/workers and visitors while being able to switch to their perspectives of the story. Eventually the game takes a stop after some time due to a rat plauge infection spreading everywhere killing most if not all of the people in the Midway all except for Timmy who if you managed to play as throughout the run will leave at the end. If you've switched to one of the other characters who isn't Timmy, your route will vary depending on which character you're playing as and various factors such as the amount of people left alive once the rat plauge spreads and the amount of time you have. This accompanied with the fact that if playing as any character who isn't Timmy, you're able to be randomly killed by the character Ted in certain locations. There are also certain rooms and events that are locked off to certain characters or are only available through a specific character at a specific time such as the "Sperm Whale Giving Birth to an Electric Eel" building or Dixie's fathers poems. As Timmy or any character you'll also be able to view most characters backstories which are illustrated and narrated by a different artist. Most are relatively easy to get just by approaching said character such as Dixie, Ted or Lottie's but some require a bit of strategy (and if I'm being honest, luck) to get such as Otto, Oscar the rat and the IRS man's backstories.

a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Timmy

Timmy is a 10 year old boy who's visiting the Midway, he's also the "main" character you start playing as. While playing as him you can see his thoughts on whats currently happening down below like with other playable characters. Due to Timmy being the only child character present in the game, Timmy's point of view and dialouge is to say the least, childish. He doesn't seem to be aware of what's going on most of the time and is easily entertained by the simplest of things, it's shown he doesn't understand what sarcasm is and hell he doesn't even notice that everyone in the Midway is dead from the rat plague at the end of his run. This is somewhat of an advantage as this means it is impossible to die or be killed while playing as Timmy apart from one death ending delibrately caused by the player's carelessness.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

An image describing the character 'Timmy' that reads 'School was out for the summer and his best friend has to go to the doctor, so Timmy was faced with a whole day with nothing to do. At first he thought about making a cross to mark the grave of his dead hamster; but then he remembered one of his brothers talking about an old rundown carnival over by the river. His mom and dad would never let him go there alone, but maybe he could sneak out and leave a not. HE COULD ALWAYS SAY THAT HE WAS GOING TO THE LIBRARY...' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Dixie

Dixie runs the "Kill-A-Commie" shooting gallery and is the current owner of the Midway due to her husband, Ike/Coma man's current condition. Due to this the Midway has been going downhill more and more fast especially with other factors such as dealing with both a blackmailer and tax man. She often wanders around the midway talking to the others or is nursing Ike/coma man in the back of her room. Truely in her heart, Dixie's always wanted to be a country and western singer since childhood thus being the reason she's decked out in stereotypical cowgirl wear and has a southern accent.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'Dixie'that reads 'The Midway is going under. After years of marginal survival under the guidance of her husband. Ike, the management of a small carnival on the sorry side of town has fallen to Dixie. All she ever wanted from life was to be a singer and have a baby, but somehow she wound up with a husband in a coma, a blackmailer on her back and a tax man at the door. OVER AND OVER AGAIN, DIXIE'S MOTHER HAD TOLD HER LIFE WAS HARD BUT...' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Ted

Ted is a local here as his mother, Lottie, works as an attraction in the Mid Way. Inspired by his late fathers butterfly collection and a bad childhood, he believes that most people in the world are ugly and that such ugly things most be disposed of and then remade to be beautiful/part of his own butterfly collection. He is the only other way you can get yourself killed while playing as an adult character as Timmy, a young child is an exception to what he precieves as ugly. Most characters find him creepy and avoid him at all costs.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'Ted' that reads 'The world is an ugly place and nobody knows it better than Ted. As a magnet for misery, Lottie's son finds ugliness like matches find fire. And just as fire frees the energy lying dormant in all it embraces, Ted attempts to free the suffering he sees inside of all living creatures. And because of his willingness to share this burden of pain, Ted unknowingly aspires to a type of nobility,but not one that's easily appreciated. NOT EVEN BY HIMSELF.' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Lottie

Lottie is one of the few performers in the Mid Way with their very own attraction like Dagmar. Due to a mysterious condition which turned her skin into bark, she adopted the stage name "Lottie the human log" and sings about her very tragic life story in a very joyful tone. She is a double leg amputee due to a car accident which took place when she was only ten years old which is detailed in her backstory sequence. She also happens to be the mother of Ted as Ted has his "butterfly" collection within her performing area/room. She apart from Ike, is one of the only characters who cannot be switched to as she primarily stays in her room, the only time she ever leaves in the game is near the end where Lottie ends up dying from the rat plauge.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'Lottie' that reads 'Lottie knew about tough times. Car accidents, skin disease and a husband killed by a falling tree all added up to a life full of more misery than most could ever imagine. But Lottie was not one to wallow, and if the purses she eventually made were not exactly silk, surely there was nothing wrong with burlap. You grit your teeth, you wip your eyes and you go on. But she noticed that it wasn't that way for her son, Ted. Poor little Ted, he took everything so seiously. BUT SHE WAS SURE HE'D GROW OUT OF IT... SOMEDAY' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Otto

Otto runs the "Oscar the Racing Rat" attraction with his "pet" rat Oscar being the main attraction. He is disliked by most if not all characters in game (having been bullied throughout his life since childhood), being shown to be very greedy and egotistical from his blackmailing of Dixie to upgrade his attraction and general whinyness. It's also evident the game seems to dislike Otto as well as no matter what Otto dies in every playthrough of the game and thus has no endings of his own.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'Otto' that reads 'They always laughed at him. The kids at school, guys at the racetrack, even Edna, his wife. They always laughed at him. But that was before - when he timid, when he was loser, when he was Arnold. But not any more. Now he's Otto, and Otto has the letter and Otto has power and Otto has good luck charm - Oscar, the smartest, sweetest rat in the world. NOBODY LAUGHS AT OTTO' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character IRS Man

IRS Man is all he's known as, he came to the Midway to investigate the years of tax evasion happening due to it's owners, that being Dixie. Apart from that he is extremely patriotic to his country (being USA) and proud of his occupation however is also quite antisocial. During his route he ends up taking interest in the local performer Dagmar due to her appreaciation towards dogs, being a big dog lover himself.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'IRS Man' that reads 'If reality was the same as propaganda or history, then perhaps there might be more people like the IRS Man. He believes so strongly in the idealistic mythology of his country and this belief is so reinforced by isolation, that he has somehow managed to create a minor state of perfection within his closed and self righteous world. But thankfully the real world is not quite as predictable as that of the IRS Man. HE'S ABOUT TO HAVE A BAD DAY' a gif divider of a wavey blue line An icon image of the character Dagmar

Dagmar is a local showgirl who goes by a the stage name "Dagmar the Dog Woman". She's covered head to toe in tattoos of dogs, each one representing a different failed relationship with the men in her life, she's also constantly accompanied by her two dobermans, Huck and Chuck. She holds a very cynical view on love and men, finding more appreciation in dogs than humans. She ends up taking a liking to the IRS man.

The official character description from the BDOTMW manual reads as:

image describing the character 'Dagmar' that reads 'As a tattooed stripper literally defined by the men with whom she has been involved, Dagmar both loves and hates the opposite sex. And because they consistently never live up to her own unrealistic expectations, she also loves TO hate them. As she has gotten older, Dagmar has attempted to transfer some of this misguided affection onto her pets, but like all true idealists, her passion only awaits a flame hot enough to melt away the armour one more time. MEANWHILE DOGS WILL DO' a gif divider of a wavey blue line

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an official render of Dixie, IRS man, Timmy and Ted from the main cover/poster art of Bad Day On The Midway