Never played it. Really. But I would have loved it, if I had!
As a matter of fact, in 1989 I was concentrating on writing the half dozen term-sized papers that Ms. Stinson was pleased to assign to every Senior English class as a matter of course. So, on one hand, during my Freshman year of college while the rest of the class was freaking out about a few piddly research papers, I was thinking, “Just another day of English.” But on the other hand, I missed out on a classic game.
Mean Streets was yet another ground-breaking game in Access Software’s long line of the same. It included a state-of-the-art (for the time) flight simulator engine as well as a few side-scrolling action sequences into what would ordinarily be thought of as an adventure game. So, regardless how many advertisements for the latest games talk about how New Game X is innovative for it’s cross-genre gaming, the idea is actually old hat. Truthfully, even the Zork games had RPG elements (random throws for battle damage) and Action elements (fighting that stupid dwarf)–and they were text-based games.
The sound in Mean Streets was also cutting edge. And now that I have DOSBox it is easy to replicate a PC on which the game would run natively. In almost every way, DOSBox is even better than playing games in the late ’80s. This is mainly because I am not imprisoned in a drab windowless DOS cell. But it also stems from the fact that DOSBox is so incredibly configurable. Take a look for yourself, click the video below:
For instance, Mean Streets preceded the Sound Blaster, and as such only supported RealSound via the PC speaker. According to the wiki:
RealSound is a patented technology for the PC created by Access Software during the late 1980s. RealSound enables digitized PCM-audio playback on the PC speaker. The first video games to use it were World Class Leader Board and Echelon, both released in 1988. At the time of release, sound cards were very expensive and RealSound allowed people to get life-like sounds and speech with no additional sound hardware, just the standard PC speaker.
Odd that Tex Murphy has something in common with Spellcasting 101, but Legend Entertainment evidently thought RealSound was the bee’s knees. In any case, this little factoid provides us with an interesting twist on our DOSBox setup. Perhaps not as challenging as a complex sound configuration, but interesting at least for its singularity.
It sounds remarkably good, by the way. Below is a sample of the music–I even captured some of the sound effects at the end. On 1.2MB floppies, they probably agonized over the decision to include sounds for a right and left footfall! Give it a listen:
We will be using the following changes to the standard config file:
mount c c:\archives\games -freesize 20
And the standard batch file of:
dosbox -conf tex_ms.conf -noconsole -exit
So, let’s run through it quickly with the video guide. As you will see, there is really minimal setup involved:
That brings us to the end of the Tex Murphy games. I have something special planned for next week to close off the chapter on Tex Murphy–check back often!