Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
|Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine|
British cover art
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog, Puyo Puyo|
|Platform(s)||Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Master System|
|Genre(s)||Falling block puzzle|
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine[a] is a falling block puzzle game developed by Compile and published by Sega. It was released for the Genesis/Mega Drive in North America and Europe in November 1993, and was ported to the Game Gear and Master System in December 1993 and June 1994, respectively. The plot revolves around Sonic the Hedgehog series antagonist Doctor Robotnik kidnapping residents from Beanville and turning them into robots, with the purpose of removing all joy from the planet Mobius.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is the Westernized version of Puyo Puyo and replaces its characters with those from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, primarily the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog animated series. The gameplay is reminiscent of Tetris, in which the player must organise different coloured shapes as they fall down a board. The game received mostly positive reviews, with critics praising the gameplay but criticising the difficulty.
The game is set on the planet Mobius, which is inhabited by bean-like creatures. Doctor Robotnik conceives of a plan to bring terror to the world by kidnapping the citizens of Beanville and turning them into robot slaves, and eventually creating an army that will help him rid the planet of fun and joy. To achieve this, he creates the "Mean Bean-Steaming Machine" in order to transform the bean-like creatures into robots. Putting his plan into motion, Robotnik sends out his Henchbots to gather all the bean-like creatures and group them together in dark dungeons so they can be sent to the Mean Bean-Steaming Machine. The rest of the game's story revolves around the player character, "Has Bean", and their journey to stop Robotnik's henchmen by breaking into the dungeons and freeing the bean-like creatures.
Based on the original Puyo Puyo game released in Japan, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a competitive puzzle game which follows the player as they attempt to rescue the people of Beanville from Dr. Robotnik and his army of Badniks. Players can play in either Scenario Mode, in which a single player faces off against thirteen increasingly challenging computer opponents, 1P vs 2P mode in which two players battle against each other, and Exercise Mode, in which a player can simply practise. On each player's grid, groups of beans fall from the top of the grid and can be moved and rotated in place until they reach the bottom. When four beans of the same color are matched together, they disappear from the grid, causing any beans on top to drop below. These beans can then automatically trigger other matches, resulting in chain combos of multiple matches in sequence. By successfully performing chain combos, players can send grey "refugee beans" to hinder their opponent. These beans cannot be matched normally and can only be removed by completing a match adjecant to them. A player loses when beans spill over the top of the board, leaving the player unable to add any more beans. The Game Gear and Master System versions feature an additional mode, Puzzle Mode, in which players must attempt to clear predetermined sets of beans.
Development and release
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a Westernized version of Puyo Puyo, a Japanese falling block puzzle game developed by Compile and originally released for the MSX2 in 1991. Sega expressed interest in releasing the game for the United States and Europe; however, fearing that the product would not be popular with the Western audience, the company decided to replace the characters of Puyo Puyo with those featured in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, particularly those from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog animated series, which aired in 1993.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine has also appeared in retrospective compilations, such as the Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004; which also contains the Game Gear version, and Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection (known as Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in North America) for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. In 2006, Sega released the game on the Wii's Virtual Console. In 2010, it was released on Microsoft Windows via Steam. In June 2013, it was released for the Nintendo 3DS via its Virtual Console emulation service.
The 2017 game Sonic Mania homages Mean Bean Machine via a boss battle, in which players must defeat Eggman/Robotnik in a match to advance. Players can also unlock a two-player "Mean Bean" bonus minigame.
Critics praised the various aspects of gameplay, although the difficulty and overuse of the puzzle genre were negative factors. Andy Dyer from Mega acknowledged that the game had a simple concept and also observed that it did not provide enough of a challenge. Lucas Thomas of IGN enjoyed the game's array of puzzles and recognised that its design was intended to encourage two-player competition. Reviewing the Mega Drive version, Damien McFerran of NintendoLife similarly echoed Thomas' opinion of the game's intention to encourage two-player competition, and also noted that it provided a "decent" challenge despite opining that a single player could get bored easily. In contrast, Andrew Webster of Gamezebo criticised the high level of difficulty and the game's general accessibility due to its "ancient" password save system. Aaron Thomas of GameSpot found the game difficult to recommend due to the availability of free Puyo Puyo clones on the PC, but commended its basic mechanics, wide range of game modes, and gradually increasing difficulty. Eurogamer's Kristan Reed labelled the game as a "fairly unapologetic reskin" of Puyo Puyo and thought that Sega decided to "shoehorn" the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in order to enhance their sales, although Reed admitted the gameplay was solid and addictive. A reviewer from Jeuxvideo.com questioned the game's originality, saying that "stacking beans to make them disappear is not a new concept" but would still satisfy fans of the genre. Amanda Tipping from Computer and Video Games thought that the game was as addictive and as puzzling as the Tetris series, and also preferred the game's colourful visuals as opposed to Tetris.
The Game Gear version was well received. In a retrospective review, Ron DelVillano from NintendoLife praised the game's wide variety of game modes but noted the soundtrack's lack of diversity. DelVillano also thought that the graphics had not aged well as of 2013, but accepted that games in the puzzle genre did not require prominent visuals. In similar vein, a reviewer from Joypad opined that the game's graphics were not "a joy" to look at, but understood that it was "normal" for a game of that genre. Neal Ronaghan of Nintendo World Report lauded the game's addictive and "fun" puzzle gameplay, but admitted it contained flaws due to the limitations of the Game Gear.
- Compile 1993, p. 1.
- Compile 1993, p. 13.
- Compile 1993, pp. 11–12.
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- Compile 1993, p. 6.
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- Electronic Gaming Monthly staff 1993, p. 256.
- DelVillano, Ron (18 January 2013). "Review: Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (3DS eShop / Game Gear)". Nintendolife.
- Ronaghan, Neal (18 June 2013). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
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- "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection overview". Game Informer. Gamestop Network. Archived from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine on Steam". Steam. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- DelVillano, Ron (17 June 2013). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine Review (3DS eShop / GG)". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- Reynolds, Matthew (15 August 2017). "Sonic Mania unlockables and cheats: Debug mode, Super Peel Out, Extra unlocks, Level Select and other secrets explained". Eurogamer. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
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- Tipping 1993, p. 93.
- Thomas, Aaron (9 January 2007). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- McFerran, Damien (12 December 2006). "Review: Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (MD)". Nintendolife. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
- Dyer 1994, p. 49.
- Webster, Andrew (8 October 2010). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine Review". Gamezebo. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Joypad staff 1994, p. 109.
- Compile (1993). Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine instruction manual (US Genesis). Sega. pp. 1–19.
- Dyer, Andy (January 1994). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine review". Mega. Maverick Magazines (16): 48–49.
- Joypad staff (28 February 1994). "Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine review (Game Gear)". Joypad (in French). Yellow Media (28): 109.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly staff (November 1993). "Preview: The Mean Beans of Robotnik's Machine". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Future plc (52): 256.
- Tipping, Amanda (November 1993). "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine review" (PDF). Computer and Video Games. Future plc (146): 93. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- Alternatively named Dr. Robotnik and His Mean Bean Machine in European countries outside the United Kingdom and Dr. Eggman's Mean Bean Machine (
Dr.エッグマンのミーンビーンマシーン Dokutā Egguman no Mīn Bīn Mashīn) in Japanese compilation releases.