Retro Review: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (GC)

dr. robotnik's machine coverDeveloper: SEGA Technical Institute
Publisher: SEGA
Platform(s): Sega Genesis/Sega Mega Drive, Sega Game Gear, Master System, Wii, Steam
Price: Varies by platform; $5.00 on Steam
Release date: November 26, 1993 (original release)

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is SEGA’s version of the popular, Japanese game-style of Puyo Puyo, in which the player is challenged to use their wit and puzzle-solving skills to create combinations and outdo the other player. Similar to Nintendo’s Kirby’s Avalanche, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is known for its fun, quick-thinking gameplay.

Debuting on the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is considered a classic and is now available for purchase on multiple platforms, including digital download for the Wii console and Steam for PC.

Storyline

Robotnik has thrown himself upon another wicked scheme. The crazed doctor is taking over the land of Beanville and turning all of the inhabitants into robots, ridding the world of happiness forever!

That’s where you come in. In order to stop the doc’s plot, you’ll have to enter the fortress dungeons and do battle will all of Robotink’s hencebots in order to save the beans from disaster.

Content Guide

Positive Elements
Your whole goal is to save innocents from a crazed doctor. The plot may be corny, but at least the message is good.

Spiritual Content
Nothing in this category.

Violence
Cutscene Violence. One boss is a dynamite stick that blows up after you defeat him.
Gameplay Violence. The gameplay is violence-free.

Language/Crude Humor
Each hencebot that you encounter will give you a taunt during a briefing screen. A few bots will call you “squirt,” “sucker,” and “worm-bait.” One robot threatens to “stick it to you.” The briefing scenes can easily be skipped over by pressing a button, however, so they’re totally avoidable and really don’t add anything to the story.

Sexual Content
Nothing.

Drug/Alcohol Reference
Forget it.

Other Negative Content
Nothing else to speak of.

Gameplay

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is one of my very favorite Sonic games because I never get tired of playing it. Its difficulty is also very stable, meaning I had just as hard a time beating it as a child as I do now. Because the game is largely a battle of wits, the player will never find it to be “too easy.”

dr. robotnik's machine4Basically, the screen is divided into two sections: you and your opponent. Your goal is to keep your side of the screen from filling up and, oppositely, to get your opponent’s side to fill up. As different colored blobs begin to descend from the air, you must place them craftily around your space. Combining four blobs of one color causes them to burst, creating space on your side and sending extra bothersome blobs over on your opponents side.

Of course, things get really interesting when it comes to combos. If a player is witty enough, they can create combo after combo of bursting blobs, sending whole armies of unneeded blobs to his/her opponent.

The game’s setup is very simple, making it easy for just about anyone to play. The only rule is that you’ve got to have a sharp mind that can think quickly. As the levels progress, so does the difficulty… and the speed of the falling blobs. That means you only have split seconds to place your colors.

Alternate modes such as the VS mode allow a player to battle another human player in the same manner as they would a CPU. It’s a lot of fun and makes for an interesting battle experience.

Gameplay is stable and glitch-free.

Presentation

dr. robotnik's machine7Graphics really can’t be judged on a present-day basis because this game is so old. Let’s just say that the colors look good, the characters seem well-pixilated, and the levels don’t blind you with retro-grade, cartoony brightness.

The music is generally repetitious and can get annoying after awhile (otherwise, it’s kind of catchy). There are only two or three different tunes used in the actual gameplay, so it gets old rather quickly. The music becomes more intense as the player begins to lose a round, though, so it can get quite pulse-pounding at times.

There is no voice-acting, but sounds “feel good” to hear. Hearing the “pop” of your blob combos feels rewarding.

dr. robotnik's machine3Final Word

I love Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. It’s a simple little game full of fun… if strategy and quick-thinking is your thing. Those looking for more of an adventure game should look elsewhere.

If you’re good with strategy, you’ll love this game. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is a real challenge and forces the player to use a lot of brainpower. It’s also a very family-friendly game (with the possible exception of the taunting). I recommend Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine to those seeking a challenge with a Sonic-y flair.

The Bottom Line

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a nonconforming Sonic classic for those seeking a challenge worthy of their time.

 

6.5

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Casey Covel

Casey Lynn Covel (known online as “Cutsceneaddict”) is an award-winning, published writer, avid reader, and aspiring author. She runs a nerdy writing blog called Meek-Geek and founded PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts in 2012. When she’s not writing for Geeks Under Grace, Florida Geek Scene, Beneath the Tangles, or FROM JAPAN, she enjoys cosplaying, and has won several awards for her work. Follow her on Instagram for her latest cosplay endeavors. #meekischic

2 Comments

  1. Michael M. on October 5, 2014 at 2:50 am

    I never got around to this one, but did you ever play Sonic Spinball?

    HARDEST
    GAME
    EVER

    • Casey Covel on October 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Sonic Spinball. Don’t remind me O.o That game was very hard for me too. I never did beat it, though I came incredibly close. I think it’s because the game mechanics were so different from past Sonic titles. In theory, it obviously seemed like a good fit at the time, though.

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