Martian Memorandum

aka: Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum
Moby ID: 222
DOS Specs
Buy on Windows
$5.99 new on Steam

Description official descriptions

Martian Memorandum is the sequel to Mean Streets. Six years have found the private investigator Tex Murphy broke, down on his luck, and seriously in need of a new case. He gets a call from Marshall Alexander, a business tycoon who owns most of the industry on Mars. It seems his daughter Alexis has run away from home, and taken "something else" with her. Marshall won't say what that something else is, but he is willing to pay handsomely to get it (and his daughter) back.

Unlike its predecessor, the game contains only adventure gameplay, removing flight simulation and action sequences. Basic gameplay mechanics are very similar to those of the first game, placing interrogation and choices above object-based puzzles. Verb commands are used to interact with the environment, while interrogating suspects usually involves selecting conversation options. Making a wrong choice may sometimes prematurely end the game or render it unwinnable.

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Credits (DOS version)

10 People

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 66% (based on 11 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 5 reviews)

So this is what Mars looks like

The Good
Six years ago, PI Tex Murphy investigated the death of scientist Carl Linsky, who was suspected of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He also foiled a corporation's plan to use a supercomputer to control the minds of the scientists which is basically the reason why Linsky committed suicide. Now Tex is back on his second case in the year 2039. Marshall Alexander, head of the TerraForm Corporation, whose purpose is to make life inhabitable on Mars, asks him to recover his daughter, Alexis, and in the process, get back an item that was stolen from him.

Martian Memorandum is an adventure game like its predecessor. You walk around a location, doing stuff and getting up to no good. You have a ComLink that allows you to call up Stacy, your new secretary, who will provide you with information, as well as addresses of characters that you are supposed to talk to, and this makes up the majority of the game. By talking to them, their face appears in a box, and I knew straight away that MM is a multimedia product. Each character's face looks so real, and when they speak, the lip-syncing is spot on. You ask about other characters, but rather than typing their name in, you are given a list of characters that you can ask about. This way, you don't have to remember full names in case remembering stuff like that is hard for you.

MM is the first Tex Murphy game to feature different conversation paths. Before you can ask characters about others, you have to carry out a conversation with them, choosing two or three responses. What the character says will depend on your responses. If you are rude, expect them to be rude back and, more often than not, tell you to get out of their site. If you are nice to them, you will be their friend. Having to choose responses not only effect the conversation, but it also makes the game replayable.

The graphics that mostly serve as the backgrounds look amazing. An example of this is where you get to see Alexander at TerraForm. You can see metropolitan San Francisco after dark, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the right and some land to the north, which is surrounded by lights. Lightning strikes one of the buildings occasionally to add to the atmosphere. More great examples of artwork are accompanied by some text which describes the location that you are about to explore. I was amazed when Tex's investigation finally leads him to Mars.

The music in the game is catchy and it sometimes reflect the environment/situation that you are in. Some of the music has beats that make you want to tap your feet to. The sound effects are similar to Mean Streets, except that the game supports sound cards that were commonplace in 1991 such as the MT-32, Adlib, and Sound Blaster. You will mostly hear Tex walking around the place, and opening and closing doors. At one location that Tex travels to, there is a cat somewhere, and the sound it makes seem out of place, like a “meow” sound backwards. Although it is unusual for a cat to sound like that, I find it funny.

The puzzles in this game are not hard, and can take 5-10 minutes to complete. One involves you finding some way to open the safe in a strict time before you are killed. Another one is navigating Tex through the ducts using some blueprints you pick up earlier as a guide. I found the puzzles quite easy if I save mid-way, restoring if I die.

The Bad
As with all adventure games, you have to travel between locations. In MM, there is no map. The locations that you can travel to are listed in a dialog box. Since this is a Tex Murphy game, you expect a detailed map to appear. I believe that you access a detailed map in future Tex games.

The Bottom Line
Martian Memorandum is the second Tex Murphy game where you have to rescue an item that was stolen from the head of TerraForm Corporation. Mostly throughout the game, you have to deal with characters who have their own personality, and who are classed as either mutants or norms. There are times when you need to search locations for clues that let you progress through the game. The game uses motion video to make the characters life like. The different conversation paths make the game replayable.

The game has a nice storyline, excellent graphics, and very good sound. The game supports sound cards that were commonplace at the time MM was made. The puzzles are easy to get through in less time. The game uses no copy protection which means two things: 1) the game is easy to pirate, and 2) you don't have to look for the manual you lost ages ago.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2007

Those streets don't look so mean no more...

The Good
Tex Murphy continues to elude plagiarism lawsuits and commercial success in Martian Memorandum, the second game in the now famous "Tex Murphy Mysteries" series. As luck would have it, Murphy's latest adventures didn't have the successful results he was expecting (sort of the same that happened with the game) and now, years after the events played in Mean Streets Tex still finds himself without the money, girls and fame he thought was in store for him.

However if you're barely familiar with the "Noir" detective films and novels of the 40's/50's you'll know this is the perfect setup for a classic private eye-plotline that starts with an innocent enough missing persons case and turns into a gigantic conspiracy with the fate of an entire planet hanging in the balance... Well, actually I think I'm making the plot sound weaker than it is, and the fact is that the story in Martian Memo is actually really good, surpassing by far the plot of the original game, with much more original twists and situations (even if it seems like a ripoff of Total Recall at certain points).

The game makes a series of improvements from the original that can be summed up under the "Ok, we'll just make an adventure game this time" design mantra Access seemed to abide to with this game. Gone are the genre-bending and freeform elements from the original classic and instead the game is a full-blown point'n click adventure game like the million others or so that got released in 90's. Of course I wouldn't be writing this in the "good" section unless they made an improvement, and the fact is that they do: The game is a much more dynamic experience, without any of the "dead air" moments you had in the original when you had to waste time disabling alarm systems, shoot down stupid goons for cash and have endless flights from one corner of the universe to the other.

In this new game Tex "warps" from location to location using a location menu. Gameplay and gameworld exploration is handled completely via the mouse and the game, while keeping the lead-following/clue-gathering detective oriented gameplay concept, adds much more inventory/deduction puzzles to appease adventure fans. Far from dragging down the action, these puzzles actually increase the overall gameplay value, as the game is no longer just a dot-connecting exercise.

Technology-wise the game is a major improvement from the original, with gorgeous VGA graphics that include even more digitized images and animations than before and much better soundtracks and sfxs courtesy of the now common soundcard proliferation for pcs which rendered such amazing concepts as Access RealSound technology redundant.

The Bad
For as nice as the switch to a full point'n click adventure gameplay is, you still miss the original elements that made Mean Streets such an unique title, and there's no question that the switch also limits the gameplay depth considerably. Plus it hasn't been a completely smooth transition, as the game has plenty of dead ends in which not having a specific item or having missed a key event gets you stuck, with your only hope being reloading and hoping that you get whatever you missed this time. There's a nice online hint system, but it hardly helps when your problem lies buried in the past.

The Bottom Line
Tex Murphy returns, and this time he brings full-mouse support with him!

Martian Memorandum is the perfect introductory title for the Tex Murphy games, as it's linear point'n click adventure gameplay perfectly (well, near perfectly) follows the classic adventure template and gives you a perfectly coherent experience without the hit-and-miss elements of the original (and dated) Mean Streets. Fans of the series however will probably argue that it would have been a better idea to fix what was wrong in the original instead of just getting rid of it, but what the heck... if it gets you a better storyline and tighter gameplay then I'm all for it.

DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2005

Tex is back!

The Good
Other than the Police Quest games, there weren't many "gritty" games widely available. This was one of them. Murder, sex, mutations...it was all there. Want to get the help of a secretary? You don't give her candy, you take her out on a date and then take her to bed. Ever see Guybrush do that? Like Mean Streets, the sound and graphics were advanced for their time, but of course they don't look so great now. The locales were also very well done, and if you went to a junkyard, it looked like, well, a junkyard. The ending is good for a laugh, too.

The Bad
Whenever someone talks about "dead-end syndrome" I immediately think of this game. Forgot to do something you had no idea you were supposed to do? Well, that will come back to haunt you...at the very end. This, coupled with the built-in hint system, made it too tempting to cheat.

The Bottom Line
A solid adventure/mystery game. Not the best ever, but a worthy addition to the Tex saga. If you find it, grab it.

DOS · by Toka (13) · 2001

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

Tex Murphy

As in all other Tex Murphy games, principal designer Chris Jones plays the titular character. However, this is the last title in which he remains silent.

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  • MobyGames ID: 222
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Eurythmic.

Linux, Windows, Macintosh added by lights out party.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Travis Fahs, Patrick Bregger, firefang9212.

Game added August 16, 1999. Last modified August 14, 2023.