Mean Streets

Platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles


Main Genre:
Detective / Mystery
Sci-Fi / Futuristic
Featured Vehicles:
Planes / Flight


IBM VGA version of Mean Streets
IBM VGA version of Mean Streets

Mean Streets is an adventure game first released for IBM and compatible computers in 1989 by Access Software. Versions for the Commodore 64, Amiga, and Atari ST were released shortly after with the Amiga and ST versions being exclusive to Europe. Mean Streets is the first game from Access to feature private investigator Tex Murphy and was later remade in 1998 as Tex Murphy: Overseer. The game is a cyberpunk/film noir style mystery where players need to set about the detective work needed to solve a murder and stop a sinister plot.

Story and Gameplay

The game takes place on the U.S. west coast in 2033. As private investigator Tex Murphy, players are hired by Sylvia Linsky to investigate the death of her father Dr. Carl Linsky, a university professor. Police ruled his death a suicide, but Sylvia suspects murder. Players are given $10,000 and several leads to begin the investigation. As the investigation progresses, Tex uncovers a plot known as Project Overlord which aims to remotely control people in the country via implants. Tex will need to gather key cards and associated passwords of the eight scientists involved on the project in order to infiltrate the orginization involved and shut the system down. Mean Streets mixes together several gameplay styles. Overall, the player's goal is to solve the mystery by talking with people to learn information, searching locations for items or clues, travelling from location to location, and surviving action sequences in some areas

Talking with people in the game is the most common way to obtain information (either clues to solve the case or the location of other people to talk to) and occasionally receive items. When questioning, players can enter in any name or item to ask about and if the person knows something about the topic will respond. Some characters aren't cooperative, however; it addition to questioning, the options to either bribe or threaten are available. When bribing, any offer can be made which characters may or may not accept; As players have a limited amount of money, ideally bribes will be as low as possible. Threatening a character may get them to talk, but also may not work; some will respond by either having Tex thrown out of the building or will even kill him which ends the game. A character's personality should be taken into account when deciding which interrogation method to take.

Searching locations appears similar to other animated adventure games; players can guide Tex around the room to look at objects, pick things up, or perform other actions. The game doesn't have a parser and instead uses a menu system with objects appearing in a list at the top of the window and possible actions below them; highlighting the desired object and action will cause Tex to perform that action. Several locations also have alarms which are set off when Tex enters the room; in these cases, players will need to disable the alarm by finding the switch or mechanism in the room within a given time limit. If time runs out, Tex is caught and the game ends.

Some locations are dangerous and will feature a gun fight before they can be entered. For these action sequences, players need to guide Tex from the left side of the screen to the right without being killed by the numerous enemies that appear. Tex can duck to dodge fire, and also has a gun himself to shoot opponents. Ammo is limited, however more can be found by searching some locations first. Each time Tex is hit by enemy fire, some energy is lost and he is knocked further backwards. If all energy is lost, the game ends. In the original IBM version a flip-screen view is used with players needing to safely cross two screens to complete the sequence. In other versions, the screen scrolls over that distance.

To travel between locations, Mean Streets includes a complete flight simulator. Once a destination is known, the four digit code needs to be entered into the speeder's computer. Players can choose to manually fly the speeder to the destination, or use the autopilot to have the game fly there without user input.

The game doesn't automatically track information learned; players will want to keep detailed notes of what they learn which can include names, nav coordinates, passwords, or other useful information. Game progress can be saved while Tex is in the speeder.

Graphics and Sound

Mean Streets is notable for being among the first games to support 256 color MCGA and VGA gaphics and includes digitized images of characters and some locations. It also utilizes Access Software's RealSound technology to play high quality digitized sounds through the IBM internal speaker. Mean Streets is the last game by Access to support the internal speaker exclusively; while later games offered RealSound as an option, several sound cards were also supported.


Platform: IBM PC/Compatibles
Produced and Directed by: Bruce Carver
Programming: Kevin Homer, David Curtin, Brent Erickson, Roger Carver
Story and Game Design: Chris Jones, Brent Erickson, Brian Ferguson
RealSound by: Steve Witzel
Graphics and Art Direction: Douglas Vandegrift
Graphics: Jon Clark, John Berven
Cinematography: Zeke McCabe
Data Base Design: Roger Carver, Brent Erickson
Documentation: Bruce Carver, Chris Jones, Jon Clark
Play Testing: John Berven, James Slade
Packaging Design: Douglas Vandegrift


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