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Mean Streets is a dystopian cyberpunk noiradventure game that was released in 1989 for MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64. It was developed and published by Access Software. The game is the first in the series of Tex Murphy mysteries; its immediate sequel is Martian Memorandum.
The player plays the role of Tex Murphy, a down-and-out private investigator living in post-apocalyptic San Francisco. Tex is hired by a beautiful young woman named Sylvia Linsky to investigate the death of her father, Dr. Carl Linsky, a professor at the University of San Francisco. Prior to his death, Carl would not talk to his daughter about the secret project he was working on, and days later, he was seen falling off the Golden Gate Bridge. Sylvia suspects murder, but the police say it was routine suicide. To help get him started, Tex is given $10,000 and a few leads. The player is referred to the game's manual for a list of their leads.
The game starts on September 25, 2033 in Tex's speeder, and the player can perform various functions, including moving the speeder backward and forward, raise or lower the altitude, switching between different views, and accessing the on-board computer. The player can also contact Tex's secretary and informant and receive faxes from them if they ask for information on suspects.
The majority of the game involves the player questioning people over the course of the game. Questioning people often results in them giving out information that further deepens the plot. After people give out the information, the player has the option of offering them money or threatening them when they appear uncooperative.
In some instances, the player receives an address of the person whom they asked about. These addresses consist of a 4-digit code which the player enters into the computer on-board their speeder. Once the code has been entered, the destination is marked by a flashing square, and the player must guide their speeder to it. By doing this, the player needs to travel up and down the coast of California.
There are some situations where you have to search people's apartments and laboratories to get further leads. In these cases, the player can, among other things, walk around the area, search desks, disable alarms, and access computers. The player's primary objective is to collect eight passcards, along with their passwords, and use them to stop the project Carl Linsky was working on.
Mean Streets is one of the first games to feature 256-color VGA graphics, at a time when VGA cards were not commonplace.
It is also one of the first games to incorporate RealSound technology. This technique uses the computer's PC Speaker to generate high-quality digitized sounds such as speech, music, and sound effects without the use of additional hardware. To put the technology to good use, an amplifier must be connected to the computer.
The game was later remade into Tex Murphy: Overseer