|Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine|
|System(s): Sega Mega Drive / Genesis|
The game is based on the earlier Japanese puzzler Puyo Puyo. It was released to the North American and European markets in November 1993. Though not a commercial success initially, it became more popular with time. It was later also released in various compilations and other forms; see #Also released on below.
It was also released by Samsung in South Korea under then name Dong Gu Ri Te Chi Jak Jeon. For whatever reason, some number of cartridges (between only the first run and half of the entire production) was produced by taking a Puyo Puyo cart, sticking the Dong Gu Ri label on, and placing it in the Dong Gu Ri packaging and selling it as is.
It was never released in Japan, though talks had been in progress; Compile declined the opportunity most likely because it was too similar to the popular Puyo Puyo, on which it was based and whose sequel (Puyo Puyo Tsu) was already in development.
An 8-bit version was later released for the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear in December 1993. As the Mega Drive version was based on that system's version of Puyo Puyo, the 8-bit version was based on Puyo Puyo for the Game Gear. It contains an extra Puzzle Mode, which was based on the just-released Nazo Puyo.
A lot of the music in Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine was reused, albeit remixed and/or resynthed by sound engineer Masanori Hikichi, from Masanobu Tsukamoto's (and possibly, though not likely, Einosuke Nagao's) songs from the original Puyo Puyo score:
Additionally, nearly straight arrangements of Brave and Theme are in the game, but unused, and the ending cutscene music is inspired by Theme's structure. Also though Naofumi Hataya is credited as "Masayuki Nagao," he and Einosuke Nagao are completely different persons.
Unlike other Sonic the Hedgehog games, this one occurs in the universe of the show Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and features its version of Dr. Robotnik and many of its other characters including Scratch, Grounder and other badniks). The only other reference to said series was in the bonus stages of Sonic Spinball. Also rare for the series is the fact that Sonic does not appear. In his place as protagonist is a character called Has Bean.
Robotnik has hatched a plan to ensure that no music or fun remains on the planet Mobius. To do this, he kidnaps the citizens of Beanville and stuffs them into a giant robotising machine called the Mean Bean-Steaming Machine (hence the game's title) to make them into his robot slaves. As the character Has Bean (based on Puyo Puyo's Carbuncle), the player must foil Robotnik's plans by defeat each of the robot guards, and finally Robotnik himself, to foil his evil plans. Their battles take the form of competitive puzzle gaming.
Two players compete, each with their own rectangular play area comprising a grid 12 beans (previously Puyos) high by 6 wide, meaning that 72 beans (including garbage) can fit. Various colours of beans fall into the play area. The player must attempt to place four identically coloured beans adjacent to each other, at which point they will disappear. A player loses when beans pile to the top of their play area (actually the third column from the left), so it is essential to clear as many beans as possible, in order to keep the screen empty.
Players can send Refugee Beans (aka Garbage, and Ojyama) to their opponent's play area by creating chain reactions. These beans are both annoying and helpful: they can only be cleared when adjacent to another bean that is being removed, but they are very useful for making chain reactions. The more beans that link up, the more garbage is sent. Players may also activate step chains (aka Rensa) so that even more garbage is scored.
If garbage beans fall into the player's play area, they cannot be grouped like normal beans (i.e. 4 in a row will not disapper) Garbage is erased when a neighbouring group of beans erase (e.g. if a vertical line of 4 beans in column 2 forms adjacently next to a vertical line of 4 garbage beans in either column 1 or column 3, the garbage disappears). However, this does not cause garbage to be sent to the opponent.
This is the game's story mode, in which Has Bean must "Battle Robotnik's ranks of robot flunkies in order to save Beanville!" The player competes against computer-controlled characters in 12 stages. Most of these characters are also found in the pilot and 1st episode of the show. The pilot even has a scene that looks striking similar to the continue screen in this game.
Up to 2 players can play either in VS Mode or in Exercise Mode. In VS Mode, each player can choose between 5 difficulty settings, labeled 1-5 (Easiest to Hardest, where 1 is the lowest drop speed, and 5 is the fastest). In VS Mode, one player must defeat the other in the same way as in Scenario mode. If a player selects Level 1, they play with 4 colours of beans, however, the other levels include 5 colours. Furthermore, in Levels 4 or 5, the game begins with the play area already containing garbage: for Level 4, 18 beans (3 rows); for Level 5, 30 beans (5 rows).
Exercise Mode (modernly known as Endless Puyo Puyo), is a form of practice play where 1 or 2 players can battle out. This mode has three difficulty levels: easiest, normal, and hardest (Level 1, 3 or 5). On easiest, players start with only 4 colours. To level up, the player has to keep erasing beans. Helpers (Big Puyo or Has Bean) will appear when the player gets stuck on Level 1 the first time, but they can only appear once. For Level 3, at random times, Has Bean will drop from the screen to help out. When Carbuncle is placed on a colour, it travels in a random direction, following downwards, changing all beans to that colour. For Level 5, at random times, a Big Puyo will drop from the screen. When Big Puyo falls, it occupies 2 columns of the grid, and when placed, squashes all beans and removes them from the grid.
One of the little known tidbits about Mean Bean Machine is that it possesses its own sound test. In Puyo Puyo, the player either beat the game once or entered a simple code to enable it. However, both methods were removed in Mean Bean Machine for whatever reason. It can, however, be accessed through the help of emulation. After booting up the game, changing the emulator's region to Japan and going to Options will enable Sound Test.
Producers: Yoji Ishii, Noriyoshi Oba, Masamitsu Niitani
Directors: Tetsuo Shinyu, Takayuki Yanagihori, Masanobu Tsukamoto
Graphic Designers: Takaya Segawa, Saori Yamaguchi, Hideaki Moriya, Keisuke Saka
Programmers: Manabu Ishihara, Tsukasa Aoki
Music & SFX: Masanori Hikichi -CUBE-, Masayuki Nagao
Speical Thanks: Shinbou Yokoyama
|Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine|
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