As ever in this game, I’m following leads around various locations in San Francisco starting out with Ron Morgans lab. I find some piranha food in here (by moving the fish tank if I recall correctly) which allows me to feed the fish and grab his passcard out of the tank. All the passwords are anagrams of chess terms which can be guessed if needed as I found a list of all of them early in the game. These two in combination can then be used to access the computer of whoever’s card it was. This isn’t strictly needed but does flesh out the story and confirm you have the password correct.
To track down the next names on the list, I enlist Steve Clements help. Greg Call is yet another scientist who has supposedly committed suicide although it should be clear to any player by now that they have all been coerced by project Overlord, or outright murdered
Searching Greg Call’s lab yields a 10 foot pole which I can then use in Ron Morgan’s lab to get the box out of the cage with a gorilla in it and get another passcard.
Chasing up yet another scientist called Clark yields another lab complete with body this time. The most useful thing I find here is a pair of work gloves which I can use in Call’s lab to move some vines and get another passcard. There can’t be many of them left at this point.
Another lead sends me to meet Lola Lovetoy who was employed by the head of MTC to keep Schimming busy. She gives me the location of the room they used. Searching this room yields a bus locker key and flying out to that gets the black passcard.
I break into the Law and Order offices next. I find a contract employing Big Jim Slade to bump off all these ex-scientists as well as yet another passcard and a clue to ask the security chief for the nav code to the computer facility.
I do just that and with a bit of coercion he coughs up the info. At this point, I realise that I’m still missing one card and going through all the screenshots I’ve made spot a name supplied by Arnold Dweeb that I forgot to add to my list.
All keycards in hand it’s off the secret facility on Alcatraz island. The moment I arrive I’m captured and thrown in a locked room after Mr Big spells out the whole scheme.
I have one last room to search. There is a neat touch here in that I can try all sorts of things that won’t work using items I’ve picked up throughout the game. e.g. unscrewing the grate on the floor. What I actually need to do is find the gas mask which was hidden somewhere in here, then open the monumentally large furnace using the console at the bottom right. This sets off the sprinklers and a robot comes in to close the furnace again. I have just enough time to leg it out of the open door ahead of the robot.
One more shooting section and we are into the end game.
To stop Overlord, I need to use all 8 passcards to activate the auto destruct on the satellite that controls it. To do this, I have to type all the correct passwords into the giant computer in the 60 seconds I’ve got. You’d better be a half decent typist if you plan on finishing this game.
As I’m entering passwords, the villain of the piece reveal themselves to be none other than J. Saint Gideon, the ex head of Gideon Enterprises. I really don’t have time to listen/read what he’s saying at the time if I’m gong to get these 8 passwords typed in fast enough.
The countdown begins, the satellite blows up and Tex is now a national hero even getting awarded a parade by president Michael. J. Fox. Tex flies off into the sunset with Sylvia whose hair apparently changes colour from one moment to another and the world is safe, at least until Martian Memorandum.
Mean Streets is a peculiar game that could probably only ever have been made by Access. It has something of an identity crisis and doesn’t appear to know quite what it wants to be, yet the end result is an intriguing enough mystery to maintain interest up until the conclusion. That feat is made easier by the conclusion coming all too quickly despite the padding of the flight sim. This is a really short game that could probably be completed in an hour or two on the first attempt without all that tedious autopiloting.
The main selling point of Mean Streets was clearly the graphics and sound which look quaint these days but if you compare what this looks like to most other 1989 adventure games, it is way ahead. In 1989 I would have been impressed just with them scanning in photos in the first place. There was enough to the game itself that I still kind of like it actually. Much like the sequels, it doesn’t take itself seriously and there is a lot of fun to be had meeting all the unlikely characters. I also enjoyed the adventure segments which play as much like a search simulation and different to any other adventure game I can think of. To an extent it really does feel like being a PI playing this, a PI with a really, really slow car.
Mean Streets is no classic but is original, quirky and certainly worth looking into for anyone who wants to see how the series started. It’s curious seeing a much younger Chris Jones playing the same role all those years back even if he didn’t get to speak in this instalment. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who doesn’t already have an interest in the series but if you ever plan on playing through them all, this holds up well enough to be the place to start.