B1 Intermediate 1281 Folder Collection
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Y'know, for all the effort Sega's put into scrubbing the name "Robotnik" from the gaming
lexicon, they just can't seem to shake it. Granted, when it's jammed in the name of a
game that was pretty lucrative for them back in the 16-bit age - and stands as one of the
few vestiges of the ridiculously popular Puyo Puyo franchise available in the states - it's
a bit harder to disavow. For this 3DS Virtual Console port of the Game Gear version of Dr.
Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, they'd have had to rebuild the opening titles and change
some text around... granted, today that'd take like twelve minutes, but it's AUTHENTICITY,
dammit. We want everything in this painted-over Puyo title to be just as it was back in '93,
all the way down to the questionable inclusion of Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts from that
godawful Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. Not the good one that was on ABC
(that ended up being referenced in Sonic Spinball, come to mention it), but the direct-to-syndication
one that couldn't even be bothered to come up with a decent theme song. They just mashed
up the game's theme with whatever they could find in the public domain, like In the Hall
of the Mountain King and Flight of the Bumblebee! The heck does that have to do with Sonic?
I ask you! Edvard Grieg and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov are spin-dashing in their graves, man.
Oh, yeah. The game. It's Puyo Puyo, man... gather bunches of four puy-erm-beans, make
'em disappear and fling 'em at your opponent's side. It's one of the unique falling-block
puzzle games in that, in its standard mode, it's almost always played competitively. You're
not just working against a constantly-increasing drop speed, but also against a computer opponent
whom you have to consciously defeat. As such, just keeping your pile low isn't going to
be good enough; you have to design chain reactions, you have to have an attack plan in mind, you
have to keep your eye on their pile to determine the best time to strike, and you have to go
for a killshot rather than just surviving long enough. It's certainly an interesting
dynamic, and one that raises the general difficulty of the game by a significant margin. Of course,
it's a natural fit for head-to-head competition, which is facilitated in this Virtual Console
port by an expanded suite of touchscreen controls including local wireless multiplayer, and
extending to control configuration, save states, and extensive display options.
In addition to the standard Scenario Mode, there's a Puzzle mode that focuses on separate
goal-based challenges like clearing 11 puy-erm-beans at a time or completely clearing the screen.
Man. More games need notebook-style stages. For a portable game, on a system as limited
as the Game Gear, there's no difficulty in control or color recognition, a significant
leg up on anything Nintendo would've been able to offer at the time. It's all the chaos
of the Genesis-slash-Mega Drive version, just portable, as many of the best puzzle games
should be. This is a game for slipping into a puy-erm-bean-dropping trance, slaying evil
robots at every turn, until your mom jostles you and tells you we're at grandma's and you
realize you've just lost three hours. (Thankfully, this Virtual Console version benefits from
the 3DS's battery life, as a three-hour binge on an original Game Gear might've burnt through
as many as 240 AA batteries.)
But, unfortunately, the experience isn't without fault. The music - always an important part
of puzzle games, as you're usually bingeing on them for hours - consists of about two
tracks, and they're not really anything to write home about. I honestly could've done
with... well, even In the Hall of the Mountain King or Flight of the Bumblebee, just to spice
things up a bit. So turn up the stereo in the car and let that be your soundtrack, while
you smash puy-erm-beans together, jotting down the occasional password (if save states
are too new-school for you) and wondering why they didn't replace that orangish Carbuncle
mascot character with, like, Sonic's head or something.
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CGR Undertow - DR. ROBOTNIK'S MEAN BEAN MACHINE review for Game Gear

1281 Folder Collection
阿多賓 published on June 27, 2013
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