Virtual Console Review – Only the Most Devoted Puzzle Gamers Should Play Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

A Decent Puzzle Game – Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine Review

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine - Original Genesis Box Art

It’s no secret that the Japanese puzzle game, Puyo Puyo, is pretty popular and very addictive. In 1993, Puyo Puyo developer Compile released a Sonic-themed version of the game for the Sega Genesis called Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. The game is currently available for download on the Wii’s Virtual Console, and while it’s still pretty addictive, its price tag of 800 Wii Points is somewhat steep. There’s some fun to be had here, but is the game worthy of your Wii Points?

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine Storyline (3 out of 5)

Though puzzle games with storylines are more common these days, this combination was a rarity back in 1993. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine features a thin plot revolving around Sonic’s evil nemesis. This time, the evil scientist has kidnapped the citizens of Beanville and is slowly transforming all of them into robotic minions, in the process slowly eliminating music and fun from the planet Mobius. How the citizens of Beanville are linked to music and fun is a mystery, but this is an early ‘90s puzzle game, so the narrative isn’t all that important.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine Gameplay (3 out of 5)

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is Puyo Puyo with a Sega coat of paint.

For those unfamiliar with the basic gameplay design of Puyo Puyo, it’s quite simple. Pairs of color-coded beans descend on the screen. You must match up four beans of the same color—vertically, horizontally, or in clumps—in order to make them disappear. Like Tetris, you must try and keep your screen from filling up, because once those beans hit the top of the screen, it’s all over.

If you choose to play the single-player mode, you’ll find that the difficulty ramps up almost immediately, even on the lowest setting. This can grow frustrating, but the game’s addictive gameplay makes you want to keep trying over and over until you succeed. Multiplayer is a bit more inviting, and you’re bound to have a blast if you play Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine with a friend. This mode is more enjoyable than the game’s single-player component because playing with a friend is just more fun, and there’s the added incentive of trash talk.

Graphics and Sound (2 out of 5)

Scratch and Grounder from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series appear in this game, and like the rest of Robotnik's mechanical henchmen, they attempt to deter you from saving the citizens of Beanville.

There’s nothing too appealing about the visuals in Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Variety isn’t one of the game’s strong points and neither is detail. Everything looks simple, plain, and clear. The sound design is equally dull, with only a handful of uninspired themes that loop constantly and quickly get old. It’s not like you can expect more from a game like this, but the music and sound in Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine are in no way enjoyable to look at or listen to.

Lasting Value (3 out of 5)

Despite only consisting of 13 stages, the game’s single-player mode is actually long-lasting. This is mainly due to the difficulty, which becomes punishing right away. If you’re tenacious, you’re likely to spend a good deal of time trying to get through the game’s story, but only because you’re going to have to keep attempting levels multiple times. Thank goodness for the game’s password system!

Multiplayer mode is the game’s most rewarding component, because challenging a friend to some fun Puyo Puyo gameplay is always a blast. Still, even with a decent multiplayer mode, it’s hard not to consider the game’s asking price of 800 Wii Points a bit high.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine Review – Overall Score (3 out of 5)

Strangely, Sonic doesn't make an appearance in Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine isn’t a bad game. It’s actually a fairly enjoyable version of Puyo Puyo. But given its steep price, punishing difficulty in the single-player mode, and lack of content, it’s hard to recommend this game to everyone out there. Download and play Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine only if you’re a hardcore puzzle gamer.