Video Game: Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

aka: Dr Robotniks Mean Bean Machine

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is an 1993 Sega Genesis video game. It is an interesting Spin-Off of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, or in this case, a spinoff of DiC's Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series. Wheras most Sonic games are typical platformers, this game is, of all things, a puzzle game. Specifically, it is an American mock-up of the Japanese puzzle classic Puyo Puyo.

The plot is centered around Dr. Robotnik, who, in an attempt to guarantee no fun or music on Mobius, kidnaps the citizens of Beanville to be thrown into a Roboticizer-esque device, the eponymous Mean Bean-Steaming Machine, to be converted into robotic slaves for the doctor. Unfortunately, Sonic himself is nowhere to be found, so you, the player, must take up the noble deed of bringing down Dr. Robotnik's scheme, but not before beating his mooks in their bean puzzle games!

Despite getting top billing, you do not get to play as Dr. Robotnik in this game. Gamers would have to wait until Sonic Drift, Sonic R and Sonic Adventure 2 before gamers could play as him, and this was only franchise's main Robotnik/Eggman character, but it would be another few years before he got his own fangame to himself, Super Robotnik Land.

Compare Sonic Spinball, which is a Spin-Off game very loosely based on SatAM. Also compare Kirby's Avalanche for the SNES, which was another Puyo Puyo mockup.


  • Absentee Actor: The first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series not to feature Sonic himself in any form. This direction seems odd since the original Puyo Puyo utilized a player character and even featured them in cutscenes (which were edited to the enemy facing the screen for this retool).
  • Adaptational Badass: All of Robotnik's dumb bots from the cartoon are now formidable opponents, in a puzzle game no less. It's dumbfounding how intelligent Scratch and Grounder's AI is.
  • Affectionate Parody: ROBUTTNIKS MEAN BEAN MACHEAN.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: This Dolled-Up Installment completely disposes of the cute anime world from Puyo Puyo and replaces it with an entire cast of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog bad guys. Okay, some of them are sorta cute, but still evil. Just compare the victory animations.
  • Antagonist Title
  • Art Shift: In gameplay itself, the beans use the original games' Puyo sprites (these are replicated in the titles and options screen as well). In the cutscenes, the Beanville civilians are anthropomorphic blobs with arms and human faces (some even sporting moustaches). The box art also uses a different design (see above).
    • Some of the robots, especially those that appeared only vaguely in the show itself, have also been given a subtle redesign for the game. A lot of them have a modified colour scheme and have been altered to look a bit more mechanical.
  • Ascended Extra: The majority of enemies you face in this game were minor characters in the pilot episode for Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog ("Sonic Search and Smash Squad"). Most of them aren't even granted real names or speaking roles outside this game.
  • Body Horror: The beans being turned into robots via the Mean Bean Machine. More comically, some of the robots also fall apart after being defeated.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Spike. Though he'll have to settle for outsmarting you at Puyo Puyo.
  • Bottle Episode: The entire game takes place in the stone well background of Stages 1-8 of the original Puyo Puyo (likely due to the other arenas not suiting the Adventures of Sonic aesthetic). The Game Gear version adds an industrial background for the final stages and keeps the original's notebook cosmetic for Puzzle Mode (retooling it as the machine's manual) but still has far less variation than the original game.
  • Briffits and Squeans: Plewds appear when enemies are close to losing. When they're in really big trouble, they start flashing as well. It's really disheartening to lose after this.
  • The Cameo: Scratch and Grounder make background appearances initially, and you get to challenge both of them later, as well as Coconuts. Many characters from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog pilot appear as boss characters in this game.
  • Collapsing Lair: What happens to Robotnik's lab when you defeat him.
  • Compilation Re-release: Is a staple of many Sega and Sonic collections.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Scratch (the penultimate opponent, before Robotnik himself) outright informs the player that he cheats. Several of the AI characters move their beans with supernatural speed and are guaranteed enormous combos if the player doesn't hit them hard and early.
  • Cultural Translation: The entire point of the retool, with Sega of America placing a Sonic aesthetic onto Puyo Puyo due to Western gamers being unexposed to the anime-ish Madou Monogatari series it was based on. Within the game itself, the 8 bit version reversed Puzzle Mode's notebook graphics to fit Western orientation (reading from left to right).
  • Cut Song: While heavily-redone versions of "Theme of Puyo Puyo" and "Brave of Puyo Puyo" were used in the final version, more faithful remixes of both songs are buried within the game's audio data. Some premixes of the later stage themes are also present.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Dynamight explodes upon defeat. The machine itself also explodes after defeating Robotnik.
  • Difficulty By Acceleration: The automatic drop speed starts increasing at Stage 4 (the gameplay music even speeds up to signify this). It also speeds up if the player takes too long during a single battle. On harder difficulties, the drop speed increases significantly even within the first few stages, then is obnoxiously fast by the last third of the game.
  • Difficulty By Region: In a sense. Mean Bean Machine adds a Password Save system that allows players to resume Scenario mode at any point, whereas the original Puyo Puyo's Scenario had to be completed in a single sitting, with options to start from Stage One or Four.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Take the Mega Drive port of Puyo Puyo, subtract the Beginner Course and all but one of the backgrounds, add passwords and different music, replace the Madou Monogatari characters with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog characters, and you have Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. The Game Gear version followed a similar process, while the Master System version is (technically) original, being a port of the Game Gear version rather than tweaked from a previous Puyo Puyo entry.
  • Dramatic Wind: Sir Ffuzzy-Logik has this in his intro.
  • The Dragon:
    • Scratch, being the opponent you face right before Robotnik.
    • Also Dragon Breath,right before Scratch, to a lesser extent, as he's the leader of the bounty hunters in the pilot episode of the show.
  • Dummied Out: Some discarded elements from the original Puyo Puyo still exist inside the game, including a half deleted Beginner course and some of the unused gameplay backgrounds and music tracks. A retooled sound test is also accessible in the game, but for some reason is only activated on Japanese region consoles.
  • Easter Egg: If you press buttons on the title screen, you can make some of the letters jump.
  • Enemy Roll Call: The Genesis version shows the names of all the Badniks you've battled during credits.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Coconuts.
  • Evil Laugh: Wait long enough on the Game Over screen, and Robotnik delivers a grainy one—he also does this if you lose during the final battle against him.
  • Excuse Plot: Robotnik is turning beans into robots just to be a jerk, so you have to beat him and his robots in puzzle duels. Amusingly, this is arguably more of a story than that of the original Puyo Puyo.
  • Expy: Has Bean for Puyo Puyo's mascot, Carbuncle. While the exact same sprite, the manual excuses him as a robotocized Beanville civilian, with traces of his original jollier personality remaining.
  • Flying Saucer: Arms is shaped like one.
  • Gluttonous Pig: Wheeled hog robot, Skweel, expectedly, spews tons of food puns at you pre-battle.
  • Hot-Blooded: Dr. Robotnik, evidently. Also Spike.
  • In Name Only: Anyone who didn't grow up watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog may question its relation to the franchise at all. The name itself even slips into obscurity due to the name Robotnik being fazed out for the Japanese moniker Eggman (indeed when the game was finally released in Japan through Sonic Mega Collection, it was retitled Dr. Eggman's Mean Bean Machine).
  • Mecha-Mooks: Robotnik's minions.
  • Miniboss: Coconuts, Grounder and Scratch, in that order. They appear every 4th level, concluding a tier. Incidentally, this also corresponds to the order in which those enemies (or the enemies they are expies of) are encountered in Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Multiplayer Difficulty Spike: Not as much as the later Puyo Puyo sequels due to the lack of garbage offsetting, but still present. The ability to crush the CPU through 5+ chains is required to even stand a chance against a reasonably-skilled human opponent.
  • Nintendo Hard: The entire game from stage 6 and onward, especially if you manage to get as far as Robotnik.
  • No Fourth Wall: Yes, YOU, the player, are really the one who has to save the day. No sign of Sonic, Tails, or Arle anywhere.
  • No Mouth: Sir Ffuzzy-Logik doesn't have a mouth.
  • Oh Crap!: Most of the opponents do a variation of this when their area begins to overfill.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragon Breath, an armored robot with a dragon-like head.
  • The Pioneer: Davy Sprocket.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The arcade Puyo Puyo contains a variety of vocal samples, including unique phrases for when a player makes a 2-,3-,4-,or 5-chain. However, the Mega Drive couldn't handle these samples, and thus all but three of them were cut; this includes every chain sample except the 2-chain voices for both players. Mean Bean Machine only has four voice samples due to the same hardware issues, but attempts to preserve the tactical purpose of the arcade voices by raising the pitch of its vocal phrases with each chain. (The other two samples are of Robotnik laughing and screaming during story mode.)
  • Pun: Every single enemy does this in their banter to some extent.
  • Punny Name: Has Bean, the little guy who sticks in the middle of the gameplay columns.
  • Slasher Smile: Most enemies bear a particularly evil grin whenever you're on the losing end. Arms, Humpty, Dave Sprocket, Dynamight and Sir Ffuzzy-Logik are the only ones that don't!
  • Smug Snake: Scratch when he's winning. That's the face of nightmares!
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: A particularly frantic one is used whenever you overstack your beans. Especially effective since it is remixed from the final boss theme from the original Puyo Puyo.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Both fans and professional critiques noted the oddness of placing the final boss music of the original game as the 1P VS 2P theme, making a laid back competitive puzzler sound more like a sinister arcade shooter. More fittingly it's also remixed into the warning theme in Scenario Mode.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: The final opponent, Dr. Robotnik himself, is the 13th one you fight.
  • Toothy Bird: Scratch, when he shows an Evil Grin whenever he gets the upper hand over you. And you won't like it when those goons grin.
  • True Final Boss: Not really a secret, but initially Scratch appears to be the last opponent in the line-up. Once you beat him, that's when it's revealed that you have to face Dr. Robotnik himself in one final showdown. As shown here, the original transition doesn't work with the Robotnik's cutscene, so moving his intro card afterwards as a teaser was likely a way around this technical problem.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Robotnik wobbles away in his Egg-O-Matic in the ending cutscene after the machine breaks down.

Alternative Title(s):

Dr Robotniks Mean Bean Machine, Doctor Robotniks Mean Bean Machine