Monday 22 April 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - A Little Help From My Friends

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 2: “It appears this case is not as simple as talking to a few leads and convincing myself (and Sylvia) that Carl did indeed commit suicide. There’s something more going on, and every path I take seems to set me on another. I spent some time questioning Carl’s girlfriend Sandra, and while she didn’t reveal anything that would blow the case wide open, meeting her at least explained why the professor ended his relationship with Delores Lightbody. Tracking down Bash Dagot, who I was informed knew where I could find Blaze Wiener, proved more difficult, and I was forced to resort to shooting gang members in a bad part of town. I got what I needed out of Bash, although he now resembles a past tense form of his name. I’ll do what it takes to solve this case. I’m in for the long haul!”

Also known as: Restore Button

My first session ended with me getting put in jail for breaking and entering into the San Francisco University. This had occurred due to my own incompetence, setting off an alarm that I knew was there, and then not being able to switch it off in the five minutes it took for the cops to arrive. My second session began with me restoring and heading back to the university for further investigation. My interrupted sweep had revealed a note on the coffee table along with a chess set that was missing one of the bishops and a key on the chair that appeared to be for the drawer in the desk next to it. This time I began my search near the front door, revealing a fax in the fax machine that said, “Dear Professor, looking forward to our date Saturday. Love, Sandra Larsen." That was a name I hadn’t heard previously! The manual had made quite a few recommendations about recording every new name I come across along with their relationship to others and Nav Code if possible. I opened up an Excel spreadsheet and began a list of everyone I knew about.

An horrifying alternate future where text messages were never created!

Sylvia had told me that her father was about to get married to Delores Lightbody, so this fax was quite interesting. I moved onto the bar area, where I discovered some papers hidden in a shoe box in the bar. “Professor, I got the possible Nexus passwords to be decoded: isbpho, ueqne, lasentolw, nodgar, gnop, nikg, oork, napw, ehcetmack, bmgtai, etsaelmat, slctae, niktgh, clbak, tewih. I’ll be in touch – S.F.” I had no names that fit those initials, so I added the papers to my inventory for later thought. It was at this point that I realised I had no way to view my inventory while inside. I could press “I” while in the speeder to look over it, but not anywhere else. No doubt that would be annoying at some point. I also picked up a bottle of whiskey from the bar, before moving on. I collected the note from the coffee table and the key from the chair, just as I’d done during my first session, and made sure I didn’t set off the alarm on the cabinet in the process.

I went to jail trying to steal a fruitcake!?

In the trashcan next to the desk I found a lease for a space in Bridgeview Warehouse that was rented to Carl Linsky 10 months ago. It gave me an NC too (4675), so I entered that into my spreadsheet to visit later. Also in the trashcan was a note from Carl to Delores: “Delores, I’m calling our relationship off. It has nothing to do with Sandra Larsen. I just know there are other whales in the sea and I...” Whales in the sea??? I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t go down well with any woman. Anyway, this proved that Carl was at least planning to break up with Delores when he died. Perhaps the fact it was in the trashcan shows that he’d had second thoughts??? I turned my attention to the desk, where I opened the drawer and looked inside. I can only assume that I used the desk key I’d found on the chair to open the drawer, but the game provided no information to suggest one way or the other. Inside I found a 2 inch digital audio tape (clearly meant for the tape player nearby) and an advanced psychology course grade sheet. One student, Blaze Wiener, was circled on the sheet, so I added his name to the spreadsheet.

An E!? Blaze must be a criminal!

I put the tape I’d just found into the tape player and heard (as in audibly heard) someone screaming “THEY’RE IN MY HEAD, THEY’RE IN MY HEAD!” If that was the voice of Carl Linsky before he died, then he was a very disturbed man indeed. Next I turned my attention to a cabinet on the back wall of the room, where I uncovered a key and a psychology textbook written by none other than the professor himself. A page was marked within the book, and closer inspection revealed a safe combination. Above the cabinet was a painting, and when I moved it, I found the safe that the combination was presumably for. It was, and inside I found $1000 in cash! I had to wonder whether it was very ethical to steal money from the recently deceased, but figured it wouldn’t be there if I wasn’t supposed to do something with it. Either that or I was about to set off another alarm and pay another visit to the station. I was able to collect it, so assumed it was all good! Besides, I need some bribery money!

What better place to leave the combination than right next to the safe

With nothing else to investigate in Carl’s apartment, I left. Back in my speeder, I took a look through my inventory and considered all that I’d just uncovered. I had a couple of names in my spreadsheet, but didn’t have any navigation codes for either of them. I could always visit another one of the leads that the manual suggested, but I decided to try out contacting my secretary Vanessa and my informant Lee Chin. Pressing V brought up a video screen, where a nice looking young redhead smiled at me and asked me what she could do for me (audibly and visually). I was then staring at a cursor next to the words “Find out about...”, wondering what I actually wanted to know. I typed in Sandra Larsen, to which Vanessa replied “I’ll check it out”. Nothing happened though, so I tried Blaze Wiener. “There’s nothing in our files.” I then started typing all the names I knew, including Carl and Sylvia Linsky, to which Vanessa continually replied with “I’ll check it out.” I exited the video screen, wondering when or if I might get any sort of result for my efforts.

Vanessa my secretary. Very helpful!

Moments later I received a fax from Vanessa telling me that “Sandra Larsen’s San Francisco address is NC 4599”. I then received the addresses for the other people I’d entered, although I already had those. Now this was pretty cool! After spending the majority of my time trying to solve mysteries and save worlds by myself, I was going to have some backup in Mean Streets! Some cute backup too! I entered Sandra’s NC into my spreadsheet and pressed L for Lee Chin. Apparently Lee Chin is my informant, so perhaps she could give me some information on Blaze Wiener. Lee was less friendly than Vanessa, and my request for information on Blaze was met with a stern “what’s it worth?” So Lee was an informant, as long as I was willing to pay for the information. I could see that I had $11000 in my possession, so I offered her $100 for the information. “No deal!” $200? “It’s a deal!” When I exited the video screen, I received a fax saying “Talk to Bash Dagot if you want to find Blaze. My sources say they’re good friends.”

Lee Chin my informant. Also very helpful, for a price!

Lee didn’t tell me where I could find Bash Dagot though, so I tried my luck with Vanessa. “Bash Dagot lives near the mission district. Try NC 4657.” Very quickly I was filling my spreadsheet with locations to visit, so I was going to have to choose somewhere to go next. It made sense to go and see one of the leads in the manual before approaching the newer ones, but I was pretty keen to talk to this Sandra Larsen chick. The game appeared to be quite open, allowing me to visit whoever I wanted whenever I wanted. I entered 4599 into my navigation console and followed the onscreen coordinates to Sandra’s location. That location turned out to be a fairly seedy part of town, and Sandra herself was in a local pub, smoking a cigarette. Tex was clearly impressed! “She’s an extremely attractive woman in her late 20’s. I can see why Linsky started to date her.” I began to systematically question her on all the topics and names I knew. you come here often?

She had nothing to say on the majority of them, but I did get some background information about Delores Lightbody out of her. “Delores was Carl Linsky’s girlfriend, but he had grown tired of her. Carl started dating me, and said he was going to call their engagement off. Carl was worried about telling her because she had quite a temper.” Sandra also responded to my questioning about MTC Corp.: “It’s supposed to be a Management Training Center for employees of Gideon, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. They’ve hired a number of top scientists. I don’t know what they’ve been doing, but I’m sure they’re not management consultants.” Finally, my question about Law and Order got the following out of her: “I’ve seen some of those arrogant thugs around the office. They’re involved with a project at MTC, that’s for sure.” So it seems that Law and Order is some form of organisation, which I hadn’t realised before.

And I suppose you're the epitome of angelic innocence?

I didn’t feel it was pertinent to bribe or threaten Sandra, so I decided to move onto the next destination. It was at this point that I thought I’d test a theory. If these navigation codes worked anything like postcodes, the closer together the numbers are the closer together the locations would actually be. Given how long I had to wait while Tex flew the speeder between locations, I thought it was worth a try. I sorted my lead list by navigation code and found that Bash Dagot (4657) was closest to my current location (4599). Entering 4657 into my console revealed that indeed Bash was only a few miles away, so I headed straight over there. I was in for a bit of a surprise on arrival! As soon as I exited my speeder, I found myself in a side view arcade style shootout! Hordes of “baddies” were piling in from the right side of screen and firing shots at me. I had my gun out, but all I could think to do was to duck as the bullets flew overhead. Unfortunately shooting while ducking only resulted in my bullets wedging in the crates I was hiding behind, so I was going to have to stand up and face the music before these dudes reached me.

I killed over 20 guys just to get to Bash. It better be worth it!

It took me a couple of deaths to figure out the best way of approaching the shootout, and that was to duck all the bullets, stand up in the short breaks and fire as many bullets as possible, then duck while they all made contact with the gangsters. While those men went down and others were starting to come onto screen, I would walk as far to the right as possible before the inevitable flow of bullets would start up again. After a couple of screens of tense battle, I made it through to Bash’s rough neighbourhood. Interestingly, during the arrival screen, part of the message was “I find a suitable place to wait. I’m hoping to see the guy who witnessed Linsky’s suicide. Clements showed me a mug shot of Dagot, whom he described as the ultimate low life scum bag.” Considering I haven’t even met Clements yet, and didn’t realise there was a witness to Carl’s death, this was all news to me. It appears that by not visiting the first five leads before tracking down Bash I’d kind of broken the game. Mean Streets may not be as “open” as I’d first thought!

Clements? I've never even met the guy!

I questioned Bash, who was a serious lowlife! If the name didn’t give it away, the decrepit state of his clothes sure did. He seemed completely unwilling to give me any information too, although he hinted that he might assist with information about Blaze Wiener if I paid him. It took $250, but he eventually told me that “Blaze is a groundkeeper for the Giants at Candlestick Park. Use NC 1715.” Great, I had what I needed! I couldn’t help but notice though that Bash would say he couldn’t tell me anything about most topics, but questions regarding Carl Linsky were met with “Stick it, fish face!” I decided it was time to make use of Threaten, and smiled as Tex threw a punch at the camera, apparently catching Bash on “the chin with a solid haymaker that sends him staggering back against the wall.” He was then more forthcoming! “Yea, I saw the old grizzer jump, but the whole incident was outrageously bizzaro. The old geek walks by like Dawn of the Dead. Then when he was about 30 feet past me, he climbs over the barrier and nose dives into the bay. The amped old buzzard didn’t even hesitate.”

I'm not sure I should trust anything this guy says.

Am I enjoying Mean Streets? Yes, I really am! Although I’m not entirely sure why! It’s not difficult to pick apart the game’s flaws, and it does look as though the whole aim of the game is to “collect” navigation codes and follow them, hoping to receive another one. I guess the ultimate satisfaction will come down to the story that I’m unravelling as I go, as the game mechanics might become old pretty quickly, even with the true adventure investigation, speeder and shootout sections to switch between. I’m thinking that the game will appeal more to someone like me that actually enjoys systematically crossing things off lists. For some reason I find the process comforting! Enough analysis though. There’s plenty of Mean Streets left to play, so I’m off to get to it.

Tex in 3D!

Session Time: 1 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 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. Love to read your reports! My sister and I played this back in the day. I was 12 at the time and remember being freaked out by the "THEY'RE IN MY HEAD!" recording.

    Alas, the Giants are no longer in Candlestick Park. Another thing this game got wrong about the future!

    1. It's not 2037 yet, a lot can happen in 24 years!

    2. Quick, invest in fax technology! It's the wave of the future.

  2. A word of warning for Trickster and other players of a sort of flaw in game mechanics I stumbled on. If moving a small item, like a box, reveals a smaller item underneath, like a key or a switch, you'd think that actually getting the item would have the same effect. Well, the producers apparently did not think so, and the hidden object promptly vanishes without you noticing it at all. So it's better to first look and move the object and get it afterwards (or even leave it behind, if you think you'd might want to access the hidden item later).

    I was sure glad of a certain childhood hobby, when I read that list of words, as I almost instantly recognized what some of the words were.

    It certainly isn't that open a game, especially as many of the leads have proven out to be just red herrings. I think I am close to the end, or at least the plot has started to become a lot tenser - and those irritating shooting sessions have become more common.

    1. So far if I've picked up small items that contain even smaller items, I've been able to see the contained items in my inventory (such as the passcard in the bandaid can). I will definitely take this advice though, as I can only imagine how much trouble that would get you into!

      As for the password, as soon as I knew the first password, the rest of them were obvious.

  3. My buddy and I completed this game over a day or two while working together. I really liked following leads and getting to dead ends like a real investigation rather than what I've come to expect from other adventure games. I don't remember doing things out of order, though. It's interesting that you ran into that problem.

  4. Here is new Kickstarter campaign for The Realm...

    An emotive visually stunning game set in a familiar but strange future - an imaginative reinvention of the point&click adventure genre

    1. It meets the Kickstarter criteria too, so that's 10 CAPs to mpx.

      I'll read up on the game later. It looks nice enough.

  5. And I am done. Here's some concluding thoughts:

    Gur fubbg-bhgf orpnzr fb erthyne gung V npghnyyl unq gb fgneg fnivat zl nzzbf. Gura ntnva, vg zvtug whfg unir orra zl rkgerzr ynpx bs fxvyy.

    Onq thl jub n) gryyf zr rirelguvat naq o) vafgrnq bs xvyyvat zr, whfg guebjf zr va qhatrba. Jul qb gurl nyjnlf qb gung?

    Naq gurl yrsg zr nyy zl fghss. Creuncf gurl abgvprq gung cvmmn V unq orra pneelvat nebhaq sbe dhvgr n juvyr naq qrpvqrq vg jnf abg jbegu frnepuvat zr zber gubebhtuyl.

    Gur chmmyr sbe trggvat bhg bs gur onfrzrag jnf npghnyyl engure tbbq naq erdhverq fbzr gubhtug naq frireny snvyrq nggrzcgf. Zl bayl pbzcynvag vf gung gur vagresnpr znqr vg cerggl qvssvshyg gb qb rirelguvat arprffnel va gvzr, orsber gur ebobg fynzzrq qbbe ba zl snpr.

    Lrg nabgure pbeevqbe jvgu zvaqyrff znpuvarthazra. Nzzbf qbja gb oner zvavzhz.

    Tbbq yhpx gung V unq gur pbqrf arneol. Vg'f ener gb or sbeprq jevgvat fb snfg. Qbja gb 10 frpbaqf.

    Naq jung'f zl erjneq? Boyvtngbel pyrnintr, nabgure Onpx gb gur Shgher -ersrerapr naq n onq cha (”Ybjre Grk!”) (guvf fbhaq njshyyl yvxr zl fnyrf cvgpu ba Yrf Znayrl).

    1. You've finished already!? This blogging thing really slows me down. Maybe I shouldn't do it anymore. ;)

    2. Well, I started playing around the time of your first MS post, so I’ve had little over a week to go through it. And it’s pretty straightforward game, so I didn’t get really stumped at any point. I suppose blogging all details will take considerably longer than actually playing the game.

  6. "It took me a couple of deaths to figure out the best way of approaching the shootout, and that was to duck all the bullets, stand up in the short breaks and fire as many bullets as possible, then duck while they all made contact with the gangsters."

    ...I'm going to guess that cover based shooters aren't really your thing, are they Trickster?

    1. I actually found another similar tactic that I think works slightly better (ROT13):

      Gurer ner nyjnlf gjb thlf va gur fperra. Jnvg sbe gurz gb fubbg nf lbh jrer qbvat naq gura fgnaq hc naq fubbg n fvatyr fubg. Lbh jvyy xvyy gur svefg bar. Gur fcnpr orgjrra fubgf vf terngre vs gurer vf bayl bar thl fubbgvat. Gur arj thl pbzvat jba'g fgneg fubbgvat hagvy ur trgf shegure nurnq bs gur byqre bar (guvf vf gur znva qvssrerapr, nf guvf zrnaf gur arj thl qbrf abg fgneg fubbgvat vazrqvngryl naq lbh pna nqinapr shegure). Jura lbh ner arkg gb gur evtug, lbh qba'g rira unir gb xvyy nalbar, nf ntnva, bayl bar vf fubbgvat naq lbh pna fvzcyl zbir orgjrra fubgf.

      Nyfb, vg'f jbegu zragvbavat gung vs gurer ner ab bofgnpyrf (gur oebja guvatf) orgjrra lbhe cbfvgvba naq bar bs gur onqqvrf, lbh pna fubbg juvyr qhpxvat naq xvyy gur thl.

    2. Yes, I know. It seems obvious that this tactic would work, but I died a couple of times before I even really knew what was going on. At first I was standing up and shooting one shot before ducking again, but the sheer amount of gangsters entering the screen meant that didn't give me enough time to move to the right. I literally had to shoot bullets in anticipation of gangsters arriving.

  7. Like rotgrub, I was about 12 or 13 when I heard the 'they're in my head' recording. It was a pivotal video game experience for me. What it was pivoting around, I don't know, but there was definitely pivoting going on.

  8. read this blog pretty religiously. Some games grab me immediately, some grow on me, and some never touch me. For whatever strange reason, this is the last type - as much as I was interested to see it and read about the story as it unfolds, I honestly feel no compulsion to play it, or even see it through to completion. This might have something to do with one of my favorite games of all time (for at least partly sentimental reasons) coming up - Neuromancer! I once wrote a lengthy blog post of my own, with sound clips and everything, about Neuromancer - but it was deleted by the neanderthals over at ScrewAttack, where it appeared.

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean. Some games just gets pushed back because of impatience for what comes next. For me however, this is one I've been waiting for, and if Trickster would write 15 posts on MS alone I would be happy. :p

      I don't think I ever played Neuromancer. I'll have to check it out when the time comes, but now back to Mean Streets! I'm lagging behind a lot of people here I see, better find some time to play soon.

    2. Interesting, as a non-fan of both Mean Streets and Neuromancer, I find that they share some similarities. The dystopian setting is obvious, and then there's also the tongue in cheek -attitude and especially geek humour. In addition, in both the progress of the plot is very dependent on messages in now almost obsolete communication devices (faxes in MS, BBS in NM).

      On graphics department they are miles apart, but interface of adventuring part feels equally clunky in both IMO. And of course, in both the adventuring parts are only a part of the game (in MS you spend more time in the flight simulator, in NM Cyberspace is the main attraction).

    3. @Lars-Erik: The way things are going, I could do 15 posts on Mean Streets! I takes me close to a whole post to describe all the items and information in one room! Great for you...not so great for Joseph.

    4. I'm looking forward to Neuromancer too, and plan to play at the same time. Although, I hope Trickster takes some time to get there as I'm blogging through a different game at the moment (and I hate breaking up the flow of one game). I am enjoying the detailed descriptions and glad I didn't jump in on this one, I don't think I'd like it very much.

    5. *eats popcorn carefully with chopsticks*

  9. Looks like I'm gonna sneak in another sale notice! Resonance is on sale on Steam for just 2.49 until the 29th of April.

    1. Annnnd...

      Post Mortem:

      Still Life

      Still Life 2

      Also all on sale for 2.49 apiece.

    2. I see that I have some competition.

      My excuse for missing these is the fact I went to bed at 1 am, got up at 4 am, and then flew 3000 km from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Comox, British Columbia, Canada where I will be staying with relatives until I start my new job in Vancouver.

      If there are any fellow readers in Vancouver, let me know.

  10. OK, I'm going to jump onto this sale bandwagon thing I think.

    Some time later this weak GOG will be putting some games on sale and it's a good bet that there will be some adventure games in it.

    So does this shameless grab for CAPs work?????????

    1. hahaha.

      To make things less obtrusive, I've been thinking of putting sales I find up in a google document, then just putting one post up, rather then a dozen. Would that help, do you think?

      Also, GoG goes through cycles. Sometimes there will be a adventure game sale every week, sometimes there won't be one for a long time.

    2. I actually don't mind the sales on here, picked up Back to the Future and Wallace and Grommit last week. I just get slightly miffed that when I think I've found a new sale someone (and I'm not mentioning anyone in particular) has already beaten me to it and I miss out on all those lovely ephemeral CAPs. I'll just blame time zones.

  11. Definitely a seedy part of town. "Big Guys" "Nude Freaks" "TOTALLY AWESOME" :P

    The name "Blaze Weiner" is making me giggle every time it appears.

  12. I think I'm just old enough to know what a fax machine is, and just young enough that my first thought on seeing the word "fax" is that it's a misspelling of "faqs" (Frequently Asked QuestionS).