Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - An Irate Primate

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 5: “Apart from brief visits to Smiley Monroe (who told me where I could find Aaron Sternwood) and J. Saint Gideon (man that guy is old, and filthy rich!), a lot of today was spent combing through Cal Davis’ home. I nearly spent the day in a prison cell though, after setting Cal’s alarm off while entering the building. Thankfully I managed to turn off the surveillance equipment before the ten minutes ran out, giving me the chance to explore the room as long as I needed. What I uncovered there was horrifying to say the least! If I’m right, Cal Davis strapped Carl Linsky down, drilled into his head, and inserted a microchip in an attempt to control his actions. This could explain everything, but I’m going to need more proof! It is possible that Cal's role only went as far as experimenting on apes. Speaking of apes, I wasn’t able to get into the computer to find out more information, and I suspect the passcard is in the metal box guarded by an angry ape in a cage. I’m not even going to consider going in there though until I have a way to deal with that thing!”

It appears that all police stations look the same in the future!

What will today’s Mean Streets session contain? No doubt I will be travelling from location to location in my speeder, but will I be investigating locations in true adventure style or will I be questioning leads systematically in an attempt to get even more leads? Well, the next lead to visit was Detective Smiley Monroe, who could be found at NC 3614. As soon as I saw him I knew he was a jerk! He had that car salesman look, with a grin that suggested he had anything but my best intentions in mind. This first impression turned out to be bang on the money, and money was exactly what Mr. Monroe was after! There were literally only two names that he seemed to know anything about, and for both of them he responded with “My memory is a little hazy. Maybe a consulting fee would clear my head.”

Actually, it doesn't get much more honest than that!

Thankfully the $700 I bribed him with was enough to get both pieces of information out of him. Firstly, he informed me that I would find Aaron Sternwood (the guy that found Cal Davis’ body after he drank cyanide) at the beach of Santa Barbara (NC 0439). Secondly, he gave me some detail about Cal Davis’ death: “The investigation verified that Cal Davis accidentally killed himself, with a hazardous chemical. It appears that instead of drinking his Coke he took a mouthful of cyanide 631. The emergency call came in from an Aaron Sternwood, a friend of the victim. Sternwood said he mumbled something about chess and then died. When I found him, his face had the distinct bluish tinge of cyanosis. There was no evidence of foul play.” That didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, although I personally doubted accidental suicide was the real cause of Cal’s death.

No, I imagine he's not a site at all.

Speaking of Cal, it was now time to pay a visit to his home in Santa Barbara. I was given a brief description of his house which ended with the following surprise: “As I enter the room, the burglar alarm sounds, and I have about 10 minutes to shut it off before the police get here...” I hadn’t been successful in shutting the alarm off in Carl Linsky’s apartment after attempting to steal an ancient fruitcake, but this time I had no choice! I pretty much gave up on the idea of switching it off within the allotted ten minutes, and instead took my time as I explored the room. When it ran out, I would simply restore and continue from where I left off, therefore negating the feeling of panic. I began in the top left corner of the room, where I found a desk, a computer, a chair, a light switch, and a wall cabinet. The desk contained a locked drawer, for which I didn’t currently have a key, and the fax machine had no messages to read. The computer was also unusable because I didn’t have the required passcard. This wasn’t going to be straightforward!

They sure jammed a lot of items to investigate into each of the rooms in the game

Nothing I tried with the chair seemed to do anything, and turning the light on and off also appeared a futile exercise. The wall cabinet was also locked, and once again I didn’t have the required key, meaning the exploration of this part of the room turned up absolutely nothing. I moved to the large table in the centre of the room where I came across some micro chip equipment, a micro chip tray, and a table lamp. Looking at the equipment revealed an on/off switch, but I was told it was broken when I tried to use it. I thought I’d be able to pick up individual microchips from the tray on the table, but I was only able to pick up the entire tray. Strangely, switching on the light revealed a key, which I can only imagine was sitting in the darkness beneath it. I picked it up, and then made my way towards the cell at the back of the room. Here I found a workbench, a switch, and the barred cage.

The table lamp: A great place to hide a key

Looking at the workbench revealed a drawer, a sink, some chemicals, a test tube, and a diet coke can. I found a memo in the drawer that read “To: Cal Davis. Subject: Nexus September password. Coded Word: EHCCETAMK.” It didn’t take much thought to decode these letters to form yet another chess related word, CHECKMATE! I picked up the memo then tried to use the sink. I could turn it on and off (which actually made water run out of it visually), but couldn’t find any use for it. I was intrigued by the chemicals and the test tubes, and since my ten minutes were quickly running out, I decided to tempt fate. I opened the test tube and then used the “taste” action, which unsurprisingly gave me cyanide poisoning and killed me. After restoring, I quickly repeated all the success I’d had in the room so far, and then picked up the chemicals, the test tube, and the diet coke can. They’re unlikely to have any use (they're more likely there to reinforce the cause of Cal’s death), but I couldn’t be certain.

Curiosity killed the cat

While the previous death was intentional, the next one wasn’t. When I looked at the cage, I was told that it was made of iron bars, and that “two eyes stare ominously at you from behind the bars.” I could then interact with either the creature or a box that was also within the cell. A closer look at the creature revealed that “an oversized ape with wild eyes stares through the bars at you.” I tried to pick up the small metal box, only to be told that “you move close to the cage and suddenly feel the vice-grip strength of the ape’s hands around your throat. He violently shakes the life out of you... – The End.” I restored and tried a couple of other options (get creature, move box, open box etc.), but they all ended the same way. Using the switch on the wall also opened the cage door, which unsurprisingly resulted in the ape using me “like a rubber ball, throwing me to and fro about the room.” I figured I must need an item to subdue or keep at bay the ape, and moved on.


In the top right corner of the room there was a file cabinet, some rat cages, a cigarette, a camera, and some broken glass. I opened a drawer in the file cabinet (I assumed I used the file cabinet key that I found under the lamp to open it, but the game made no mention of it) and inside was an “invoice dated two days before Cal Davis died. Precious Metal Inc. Galium arsenide bar...2000 dollars.” Inside the rat cages was a slot screwdriver, which I happily picked up. Tex had mentioned that he could have switched off the magnetic fields securing the antique fruitcake back in Linsky’s apartment if only he’d had a slot screwdriver, so it appeared as though that cake was finally going to be mine! I picked up the cigarette that was sitting on the ground outside the cages, but wasn’t able to reach the camera or do anything with the broken glass. Meanwhile, the alarm was still going off, and the time was still ticking down.

Mwahahaha...the fruitcake will be mine!!!! All mine!!!!

There was one more section in the room to investigate, and that was the table in the bottom right corner. There I could check out the table itself, a drill, and a book. The table had six straps attached to it, but I wasn’t able to do anything with any of it. I was however able to turn the drill on and off, but that was about it. As I watched the drill piece spin round and round, it suddenly dawned on me that at some stage Carl Linsky may have been strapped to this table! Could this be where the surgery was performed on him that caused the small burr hole in the back of his skull! What did they do to him??? Picking up the book gave me an answer. It may even be THE answer! The book was titled “Control of Primate Behavior through Microchip Technology” and it had been written by none other than Cal Davis himself! Had Cal inserted a microchip into Carl Linsky’s head and caused him to kill himself? It sure would be cleaner that murdering him on the table in the lab! I looked at the book, but was informed that “no clues are gathered”.

I love it when torturous and illegal medical equipment come with instructions!

So, I’d completed my sweep of the room, yet the alarm was still going off, I had no passcard to the computer, I hadn’t recovered the small box from the creature, and I hadn’t managed to unlock either the drawer in the desk or the wall cabinet. I moved from section to section, trying to get, move, open, and turn on / off everything I could. Eventually I stumbled on something, which was that I could move the rat cages! This revealed a circuit box, which when opened revealed a switch and a key. Using the switch turned off the surveillance equipment, shutting the alarm off and stopping the time from ticking down. Now I wouldn’t have to restore all the time and could really take my time. I then picked up the key and made my way back to the top left corner of the room. I still wasn’t able to open the desk, but I could now open the wall cabinet. Inside were the Galium Arsenide bars that were listed on the invoice, which I was informed held a street value of $2000. It looked as though I’d discovered an item I could pawn for cash, but nothing that would help me solve my case.

Apparently the switch turned off the spellcheck too!

I swept the room again, but eventually had to admit defeat. Either I was outright missing something in the room, or I was going to need an item found elsewhere to solve anything further in Cal’s house. My biggest fear was that I’d picked up some sort of container without opening it, and therefore lost the chance to collect a certain required item inside (Ilmari suggested this is possible in the game). I resolved to move on, and checked my spreadsheet to find out what the next location would be. It was J. Saint Gideon’s house, so I hopped back in the speeder and made my way to NC 3891. It was clearly apparent on arrival that this guy was rich. Filthy stinking rich! His thirty room mansion in Beverly Hills looked more like a castle than a standard home. I was ushered into his den, where I found Mr. Gideon studying a chess board. Tex describes the man as ancient, and the image of him that appeared on the screen made me think that description was an understatement! I very much enjoyed one of the comments in the description though: “He must be a big wheel, because there’s a picture on the wall of him receiving an award from President Michael J. Fox.”

Could this be the Back to the Future reference you spoke of Ilmari?

Gideon answered all of my questions, but I can’t say I got anything out of him that seemed very important. He was particularly cranky about the fact that Frank Schimming forced him out of his own company, and seemed to want revenge one day. His background was interesting enough to mention: “Before I was in the business world, I was head of British intelligence. After that I founded Gideon and developed new ways of helping the government. Schimming sees Gideon as just a business. I looked at the company as an institution, protecting our way of life.” Finally, he mentioned that he’d “heard there is something unusual going on at MTC. If there is, I’m sure Schimming is behind it. That man is dangerous.” All interesting stuff, but I received no leads from Gideon, so I therefore turned to my spreadsheet to find out who I should visit next. It looks like the reporter, Wanda Peck, is my next target. She seems to be the person to see to get the scoop on Robert Knott and Law and Order in general. Onwards we go!

Dementia can hit at the least opportune times!

Session Time: 1 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 00 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. It's always so much fun to see where we differ in terms of getting stuck or stumbling across solutions.

    A somewhat non-spoilery hint to maximize the amount of information you get from people: Vs gurl qral xabjvat nalguvat ohg ercyvrf jvgu nalguvat ohg gur fgnaqneq Fbeel, pna'g uryc lbh gurer..., gurl xabj fbzrguvat gung gurl qba'g jnag gb gryy lbh.

  2. Just wanted to chime in that I love these write-ups and they must be a lot of work! The detail really makes it feel like I'm playing this game again myself. :)

  3. Some of the changes they made when they remade the game into Tex Murphy: Overseer are interesting.

    Cal Davis became Val Davis and the cop was Eve Clements instead of Steve Clements.

    It seems they thought their original cast of characters was too male dominated, or perhaps they just had the staff play the characters in Mean Streets and game developers had mostly male staff at the time.

    1. They also changed some things around to tighten up the story and fit in other tidbits from Tex Murphy history. That also means that Overseer is "canon" within the Tex Murphy universe and Mean Streets actually isn't.

  4. Yep, that was the Back to the Future -reference, although there will be another one in the future.

  5. Steam sale: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes: http://store.steampowered.com/app/205650/

  6. I dunno if this is CAP-worthy, but I think a lot of the readers here would be interested.

    StoryBundle.com's current bundle is 7(DRM-free) ebook publications about video games. You get 3 more books if you beat $10.


  7. This game is so frickin' weird. What kind of monstrous detective spends most of his time breaking into people's houses and stealing their valuables in order to pawn them for information? Is that what detectives do?!