Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Game 31: Mean Streets - Answers from the Polycephalic

Tex Murphy Journal Entry 6: “There are some real freaks in this part of the world these days! I spent most of my day questioning people, trying to figure exactly what project Overlord is all about and how I can stop it. I didn’t find any answers until I met Ron Meat, a Cyclops, and Larry Hammond, a freak with two heads! It was Larry that finally gave me the answers I was after, and I now know that the key to stopping MTC Corporation lies with the eight passcards and passwords that their employees use(d) to access their Nexus terminals. I’ve already got my hands on Linsky’s blue passcard and Klaus’ green one, but getting my hands on the other six is likely to be challenging. On the positive side, I seem to be on a roll, so let’s hope this success continues tomorrow and beyond.”

This wasn't far away from making sense! Funny though!

I have to assume that anyone reading this particular post has already read my previous Mean Streets ramblings. If you haven’t, then I’d recommend heading back to the Introduction post and starting from there. I wouldn’t say that Mean Streets gets all that complicated to play, but I imagine the amount of flying around I’ve been doing along with the sheer volume of plot information that’s being revealed over time would be pretty difficult to fathom in this format. I hope there’s some enjoyment for those readers that haven’t played the game previously and can only say that I’m doing my best to keep it all together! Right, this session began with a trip to the San Francisco Chronicle building, where I met up with Wanda Peck. Once again, Tex wasn’t particularly flattering in his description of the clearly besotted Wanda: “I’ve always thought Wanda was good looking in a way – far away.” I’m not sure that makes sense, but I laughed at its intent nonetheless.

Hey, is Wanda the same actress that plays Sylvia?! Hmmm...

Wanda didn’t have a lot to say about my leads, but once I began asking her about the various corporations, her knowledge came to the fore. “MTC really stands for Management Through Control. The Management Training Center is just a front for a project called Overlord. The Overlord project was developed 50 years ago in England. Scientists began work on a mental ability booster. The experiment involved increasing a person’s mental capacity by connecting his brain directly to a computer. Several scientists tried the experiment on themselves, and at first it worked. By stimulating untapped areas of the mind, they increased their IQs by 15-25%. But they also found they were extremely susceptible to suggestion. Commands given through the computer would be followed without question. The experimentation became more and more radical. Many of the scientists developed severe cases of psychosis. Some committed suicide, and others died under mysterious circumstances.”

Wanda gets serious when she talks about MTC

As helpful as Wanda was being, she seemed very reluctant to talk about Law and Order. “Information on these boys is gonna cost you. I’m taking a big risk saying anything bad about them.” I offered Wanda cash for the info and we eventually agreed on $800. “They’re a pretty bunch of fascists! They started out as a small band of trouble makers about 5 years ago, but they’ve cultivated a steady following since. A year ago Robert Knott became the president, and now the party is focussing their rage against the mutants. When a murder or robbery is committed, it’s immediately blamed on the mutants. The scariest part is that they’re becoming a powerful political force. They’ve got friends in the Legislature, Mayor’s Office and Police Force. You need to talk to Larry Hammond. Look for Ron Meat to find Larry.” There was the lead I needed! I asked Wanda about Larry, and found out that he was a “brilliant computer specialist who has done work for MTC Corp.”

Yes, Wanda really looks like she didn't want to say anything bad about Law and Order

Since I wasn’t able to get an NC off Wanda for this Ron Meat, I went to my sources. Vanessa wasn’t able to help me, but Lee Chin clearly knew something. It once again took $800 to get her to talk, at which point I received a fax telling me that “Ron Meat hangs out near Coit Tower. Use NC 4525. He’s a little unpredictable, so watch yourself.” I entered the NC into my spreadsheet, but figured that Frank Schimming’s location was much closer. I’d been looking forward to visiting Gideon Enterprises for a while, so I set my speeder to 4650 and took off. Mr. Schimming certainly wasn’t happy to see me, but I began questioning him regardless. He seemed reluctant to tell me anything about certain employees, such as John Klaus and Cal Davis, stating that he couldn’t possibly know all the employees of the company. He also claimed to know nothing about Overlord, although his angry answer suggested otherwise. Basically, I got nothing out of him, yet bribing him didn’t work and threatening him resulted in me getting my ass kicked by security.

Not even one that died a few days ago?

As soon as I departed Gideon Enterprises, I received a fax telling me to “get off this case or you’ll be sorry!” All that little threat did was make me know I was on the right track, so I pushed ahead and made my way over to see Peter Dull, Linsky’s insurance agency. The description of Peter suggested that “even looking at him could put you to sleep” and I won’t argue. I questioned him about everything, and while he did confirm what I already knew about Linsky’s insurance policy (that it was for 1,000,000 dollars and was made null and void once he committed suicide), he gave me nothing else of interest. I left, and made my way to the beach where Aaron Sternwood apparently hung out. Aaron was the guy that found Cal Davis dying after having ingested cyanide, and I hoped he could give me something that would help recover Cal’s passcard.

Prepare to pay up, cause I'm all over this case!

“This could be the world’s first beach for ugly people. A skinny guy walks by with so many varicose veins, he could double as a road map.” I really hadn’t expected Mean Streets to be so quirky and to contain so much Al Lowe style humour, yet the descriptions contain more comedy the further I play, and the characters are becoming more cartoonish.  Aaron Sternwood looked ridiculous, grinning like a mad man and sucking on a beer in his unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. Unfortunately, while Aaron did confirm my belief that the passcard I needed was contained in the small metal box that was currently sitting next to the ape in the cage, he didn't give me any hints as to how I might get it. “When I found him in his lab, he had his hands around his neck and he mumbled “checkmate”. Cal kept a computer passcard in a small box near the ape cage.” That was disappointing, but there were plenty of names left on my to visit list. Now that these detours were done with, I was going to pay this Ron Meat a visit, with the hope of getting the location of Larry Hammond out of him.

An optimist through and through!

Lee Chin had warned me that Ron Meat was unpredictable, but she gave me no warning about how damn ugly he would be. “He has radiation burns over most of his face, but he has a nice eye. Too bad he doesn’t have another one to match.” Ron Meat looks like a Cyclops from Greek mythology! I asked him how he was, and the answer wasn’t overly good. “Me? Not too good lately. I need to get my eye checked. I probably need a monocle.” Boom tish! I got past his ugliness for long enough to ask him some questions, to which I received two interesting responses. When asked about Law and Order, he responded with: “Those SOB’s have threatened me several times. They think I look like one of those freaks. I’ve heard they’re planning something big, and I know it is going to happen soon.” So if Ron Meat isn’t “one of those freaks”, then what the hell do they look like!? He seemed unwilling to tell me where Larry Hammond could be found until I threatened to punch him in his one eye. “You’ll find him in Freak Town at the old warehouse at NC 4935.”

I think I'd prefer to not be able to see my reflection

That address just happened to be right next door, so I travelled the short distance to this “Freak Town”. “This is where most of the unfortunate individuals live who suffered severe damage from nuclear radiation. Many of their offspring suffered genetic damage resulting in some rather grotesque mutations. Most were treated as outcasts and were forced into this community, away from those not affected.” Seems to me that Ron Meat was living in denial! He must be a mutant! Anyway, I found Larry and his brother Darrell. They just happened to be the same person!!! As horrible as Larry appeared, he was extremely helpful, particularly when questioned about MTC. “About a year ago, Tom Griffith, the Vice President of MTC Corporation, hired me to design a computer for the Overlord project.” I hadn’t heard the name Tom Griffith before! That seemed a bit strange given his position, but I added him to the list to track down and question.

Actually, would you mind Darrell? I'd really like to speak to Larry alone.

Larry continued: “They also wanted eight access terminals. A colleague of mine, Cal Davis, told me that he had been hired by the MTC Corporation to do research on controlling human behaviour through direct brain stimulation. When I started asking questions, they told me it was none of my business. When I read that Davis had been killed, I decided to go into hiding. If you’re looking for a way to stop project Overlord, you’ll have to get to the main computer, and destroy the satellite. To gain access to the destruct sequence, you’ll need all eight passcards and passwords. Each scientist involved with the project has one. My grey passcard was stolen by members of the Law and Order party. My password is “king”. To get the rest of the passwords and cards, you’ll have to find each of the scientists working on the project. Once you gather all the cards, you’ll need to find the main computer to use them. I don’t know where the main computer is, and other than Cal Davis, I don’t know any of the names of the remaining 6 scientists who worked on the project.”

What makes you say that? Did he seem uncomfortable around you? Can't understand why!

Larry finished by telling me to start with “the accounting people at Gideon; Jerome Milbourne, Ed Bradley, Arnold Dweeb. They might have names of the people that received checks from MTC.” This was a lot to take in, but I finally felt like I had a real objective rather than just stacks of names. I continued to question Larry, and he continued to give me the answers I needed! “I designed the Nexus system. There is a main computer and eight access terminals. But I also built a fail safe into the system. To stop the Overlord project, you will need all eight passcards and passwords. You must then find the location of the main Nexus computer. Insert the passcards into the main computer and you can initiate the self destruct sequence. This will destroy all data and the relay satellite as well.” Sounds like fun! I asked Larry about Jerome Milbourne, Ed Bradley and Arnold Dweeb, but the only one I could get a nav code for was Bradley (NC 7312).

I wonder how may times Darrell's heard this joke!?

Since I hadn’t received the nav codes for Jerome Milbourne or Arnold Dweeb, not to mention Tom Griffith, I once again called on my informants. Vanessa was able to help me out with Jerome, sending me a fax stating that “Jerome Milbourne lives in San Francisco at NC 4623”, but she couldn’t assist with the other two. As usual, Lee Chin could, but it took quite a bit of cash to get the info out of her. For $500 she told me that “Arnold Dweeb has agreed to meet you at the Oakland Coliseum near the 50 yard line. Use NC 4610”, and for $800 that “Tom Griffith has a home in San Francisco at NC 4590”. I put all the codes into my spreadsheet and found that Ed Bradley’s home was the closest to my current location. I travelled straight over there to question the accountant, only to find that he was a dead end. He had nothing to do with the accounting between the Gideon and MTC Corp., so couldn’t really tell me much. He did say that I should speak to Arnold Dweeb though, who of course I already had on my list.

Actually, Ed Bradley would have been 92 in 2033, so he could have lived that long. He didn't though.

There are some games where I feel ready to stop for a while after a one to two hour session. This of course works great for the blog, because I can spend some time writing a post before getting back to the game refreshed. Manhunter 2 was a bit like that. I really enjoyed the game, but it always felt like a bit of a struggle. I had a difficult time figuring out what was going on, and often needed to spend some time away contemplating the latest information and to put all the pieces together in my head (writing the posts actually helped me make sense of it all). Then there are other games that I just don’t want to stop playing. Games where a four to six hour session is a real possibility! Mean Streets is like that! There’s always something interesting just around the corner to discover and I have that “just one more location” thing going through my head every time I try to pull myself away. This doesn’t mean it’s a great game of course, but it sure is addictive. I’m cranking out posts every couple of days at the moment. Not because I feel inspired to write. I just can’t play Mean Streets until my posts are up to date! On that note, I'm done here...

The list of leads is growing, but that's just fine with me!

Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 8 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. I did find Mean Streets a lot of fun back in the day, and so I wasn't sure why some commenters had lukewarm comments about it. I don't remember the flights taking a long time either, but then again it was 1989 and this was the age of floppy disks, and so I guess I hadn't developed my impatience yet.

    Once again, good to see your posts!

    1. I love the Tex Murphy series to bits, but I was probably one of those that warned about some of the mechanics of the game when it started and guessed a somewhat low score.

      That may be because it's been so long since I played it though, because as I played through it again now alongside Trickster it's really fun, with the great humor and interesting story known from the later games in the series.

    2. It's probably up to personal preferences. I did like the plot (excluding some of the goofier characters, like the two mutants above, which I thought made it all a bit too cartoonish), but since it was clearly far from a traditional adventure game, it wasn't really my cup of tea.

  2. This is the post where the plot went totally off the rails for me. But that's OK - it seems the end is in sight!

    On an unrelated note, I found the old ripped-from-PC-speaker Neuromancer theme (mp3) I used in my own old blog review/post about that game (which is now long gone). If you want it, as a sonic example of PC speaker music, I can easily either host it on Soundcloud and send you the link, or simply send you the file and let you figure out how you want to share it. Just a thought.

    1. There are quite a few people involved in Mean Streets yeah, but the plot isn't that convoluted?

      For the remake (Overseer) the amount of pleople are toned down a bit, but the adventure game parts are considerably fleshed out instead. The plot remains about the same though.

    2. No, the final plot is pretty simple. I'd still say there are perhaps a bit too many characters with nothing substantial to add to the plot. Sure, a good detective stories do have false leads, but it just feels a bit redundant, when I get a big list of names and only few of them lead into anything.

  3. I kinda found that Mean Streets wasn't so much addictive because you wanted to play it so badly.. as the fact that you just felt like you'd forget exactly what you were following without setting enough notes that it felt difficult to find your way through them. (I lost mine - a ratty sheet of paper - half way through.)

    Still, after something of a hiatus from the computer, I found my way through it.. naq tvira gur zbfg qvssvphyg chmmyr jnf jbexvat bhg gung nyy bs gur cnffjbeqf jrer purff cvrprf, well... I imagine your meticulous note-taking and screenshot-making will hold you up a little, but you should be finished this before you know it. Decent game, but I was -so- sick of that speeder by the end of it. And I love Wing Commander et al! :(

    1. My spreadsheet doesn't just contain the Nav Codes for each of my leads. It also acts as a checklist to let me know exactly what I've asked each lead about.

      Combining that with the huge amount of screenshots I've taken (close to 600 and counting) and there's little chance I'll forget what I'm up to.

      I realise that what I've just described is a fair commitment for what is a bit of light entertainment though. :)

    2. 600? I don't know if I even saw that many different screens during my playthrough. Are you taking one for every question you ask?

      That's probably what it takes to make the blog this good though. :p

    3. Sitting at 328 at the moment and I think I am about to hit the final section... You must have been quite thorough with your screenshots...

    4. Trickster, why don't you just record your sessions as videos, and then take screenshots from that? That would prevent you from missing screenshots (as you've commented on in past), and might save you time taking them.

  4. The great part about Mean Streets is that you can see the disparate pieces coming together as you gather clues. It's not really a traditional 'adventure game' so much, but it sure made me feel like a real detective solving a case. It's one of my favorites, personally.

  5. Playing this at 13 was awesome - freaktown, Tex's hot client, even the flight simulator was fun at the time. MS is a unique game in plot and gameplay and I think that's why I liked it so much.

  6. The Tex Murphy games are one of the few game series where you actually play a detective by doing what I imagine a detective actually does - asking around for info and searching locations for clues.

    Those 2 facets of gameplay stayed throughout all the Tex Murphy games (And I assume are there in the currently-being-developed game)

    1. In English at least: Chrontendo talks about a whole genre of Portopia clones taht sound like this.

  7. So how much are you getting paid for this job again? It seems like you've already dropped $5k or more in bribes!

  8. Wow, there are a LOT of Lucasarts games on sale on Steam today.

    Too bad none of them are adventure games.

    However, Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals is on sale.

    1. Yeah. The Lucasarts games on sale will be the Star Wars games, in celebration of May the 4th, "Star Wars Day"

      And whoever invented Star Wars Day gets my vote for the most clever excuse for an annual celebration ever.

  9. May the force be with you!

    Also: Free adventure games

  10. Let there be truth between your heart and the Force. All else is transitory.