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Video Game / Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

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They've got to prepare Robotnik a beautiful bean feast.

"Witness my evil dream to rid Mobius of music and fun forever. My latest invention, the mean bean-steaming machine will not only dispose of those fun-loving jolly beans of Beanville, but turn them into robot slaves to serve my evil purposes. Robots. Bring me those beans."
Dr. Robotnik in the opening cutscene

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, in particular the 1992 arcade game.

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 the eponymous Mean Bean-Steaming Machine, to be converted into robotic slaves for the doctor. It's up to you, the player, to take up the noble deed of bringing down Dr. Robotnik's scheme, but not before beating his twelve mooks in their bean puzzle games!

Despite getting top billing, you do not get to play as Dr. Robotnik in this game— that came later. It would be another few years before he would be playable in Sonic Adventure 2.

While not canon to current Sonic lore, the game hasn't exactly been forgotten, with references to the good doctor's messing around with beans cropping back up from time to time. For example, the boss fight of Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic Mania is a match of Puyo Puyo against Eggman (with a more traditional version available to unlock) and Sonic himself would eventually star in a Puyo-Puyo game upon being added to Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 as DLC in 2021. Furthermore, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022) also contains an allusion to this game, with Agent Stone working at a coffee shop named the "Mean Bean Coffee Company".

Compare Sonic Spinball, which is a Spin-Off game very loosely based on Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), and the 4 games based off Sonic Boom. Also compare Kirby's Avalanche for the SNES, which was another Puyo Puyo mockup.

Robots! Bring me these Tropes!

  • Adaptational Intelligence: 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, and especially the robots who Sonic easily tricked in the pilot (the final three before Scratch in particular).
  • Adaptation Name Change: Among the things that Mean Bean Machine keeps from Puyo Puyo is Carbuncle... However, he is known as Has-Bean here.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Dr. Robotnik isn't playable, but gets top billing and his presence is emphasized throughout the entire game even when he isn't onscreen. It helps he's up against a Featureless Protagonist.
    • Same also applies to the nine robots who help the three we normally see in the show. They were just around for the pilot, but now they’re out to make sure you don’t stop Robotnik's plan.
  • 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. Even little details like minor sound effects have been tweaked to sound "tougher".
  • Antagonist Title: Robotnik isn't the player character, but its his name and mug on the title screen, whilst the Player Character isn't even seen.
  • The Artifact: Given that it's a makeover of a virtually arcade-perfect port of Puyo Puyo (1992)note , Mean Bean Machine retains many of its source game's arcade trappings. Most blatant with the Attract Mode, which uses a joystick and single rotation button just like the arcade Puyo Puyo.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Scratch and Dr. Robotnik are a bit careless when it comes to stacking their third column, often causing an instant loss when a random refugee bean falls there and causes them to top out.
  • 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 ("Super Special Sonic Search & Smash Squad"). For many of them, Mean Bean Machine is their first and only speaking role, but probably the biggest examples are Spike, who is obscured by the booing crowd at the bounty hunter's convention (with slightly lighter colors), and Humpty, who makes a blink and miss appearance as a giant robot fully colored green along with a twin (presumably Dumpty).
  • Body Horror: The beans who are turned into robots via the Mean Bean Machine are the primary victims of Unwilling Roboticization in this version of Sonic.
    • Played for laughs as some of the robots 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.
  • Cocky Rooster: A robotic example with Scratch, the twelfth and semi-final opponent. In the Genesis version of the game, his introductory cutscene has him make a lot of chicken jokes to taunt the player.
  • Collapsing Lair: What happens to Robotnik's lab when you defeat him.
  • Compilation Re-release: Is a staple of many Sega and Sonic collections.
  • Continue Countdown: The continue screen depicts Dr. Robotnik on a stage, talking to his robots as a spotlight shines over him. The player is given nine seconds to decide whether or not they want to continue the game, and if the timer reaches zero, then Robotnik laughs evilly before the player is taken to the high score board.
  • 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).
  • Death Glare: Sir Ffuzzy-Logik gives the player one whenever he has the upper hand.
  • 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: It's retooled from the Mega Drive port of Puyo Puyo (1992), but without the Beginner Course and the Madou Monogatari characters replaced with the cast of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. 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 in a literal sense is Dragon Breath, the opponent right before Scratch, to a lesser extent, as he's the leader of the bounty hunters in the pilot episode of the show.
  • 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.
  • 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 robotized Beanville civilian, with traces of his original jollier personality remaining.
    • All the enemies have the same AI as their Puyo Puyo counterparts of the same level they appear in. The only exception is Arms, whose AI resembles that of Skeleton-T instead of Draco Centauros. Also, Zoh Daimaoh's ground-shaking effect is not used in his equivalent in this game, Sir Ffuzzy-Logik, but on Frankly and Dragon Breath.
  • Face Palm: Spike does this when he loses.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The Player Character is not defined in any way outside of opposing Robotnik. Even the character indicator, which read "ARLE" in Puyo Puyo and "YOU" in Kirby's Avalanche, reads only "1P" in this game, avoiding even the question of whether the protagonist is just the player, or their own person.
  • Fireworks of Victory: Completing a match in scenario mode unleashes a small firework display over your screen.
  • Flying Saucer: Arms is shaped like one.
  • Gluttonous Pig: Wheeled hog robot, Skweel, expectedly, spews tons of food puns at you pre-battle.
  • Hope Spot: The Oh, Crap! face Badniks make when they're in danger is hardly indicative of the player's own prospects on higher difficulties, as the latter could very well be in an even worse predicament. Said Badnik could even be in the process of setting up a nasty game-ending combo. This could also happen the other way, with the Badnik giving their Smug Snake grin even as the player is unleashing a massive combo of their own.
  • Hot-Blooded: Dr. Robotnik, evidently. Also Spike.
  • In Name Only: While Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog has become more widely available in recent years thanks to being hosted on a variety of streaming services, anyone who's never watched the show or didn't grow up with it may question its relation to the franchise, especially with Sonic's absence. The name itself even slips into obscurity due to the name Robotnik mostly being fazed out for the Japanese moniker Eggman (indeed when the game was eventually released in Japanese through Sonic Mega Collection, it was identified as Dr. Eggman's Mean Bean Machine, albeit not in the game itself).
  • Logo Joke: In the Genesis version, when you start up the game, the Sega Logo appears upside down from the left side of the screen. It turns itself right side-up clockwise as it reaches the middle of the screen.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Coconuts, the fourth opponent, is a robotic monkey.
  • 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. At least part of it is because it uses the rulings of the first Puyo Puyo title, where there is no chain offsetting, leaving no way to fight back against potential garbage Puyos the opponent can send your way. This makes it incredibly easy to get stuck in a loop of constantly cleaning up garbage Puyos while the AI keeps stacking more and more your way. If you don't learn how to set up and trigger combo chains fast, you aren't gonna have an easy time.
  • 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.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: A few tracks from Puyo Puyo are reused in this game. An example is the 2-player Vs. theme, which is an arrangement of Puyo Puyo's final boss theme.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Since the game lacks combo offsetting the latter Puyo Puyo games would have, matches often come down to who can set off a 3/4+ combo first before their opponent can.
  • Sinister Swine: Skweel is a robotic pig who serves as the game's sixth opponent. He stands on two wheels, and in the Genesis version of the game, he taunts the player with pork jokes.
  • Slasher Smile: Most enemies bear a particularly evil grin whenever you're on the losing end, and you won't like it when those goons grin. Arms, Humpty, Davy Sprocket, Dynamight (who has one as his default expression instead) and — presumably — Sir Ffuzzy-Logik are the only ones that don't, though all still look worryingly pleased with themselves.
  • 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.
  • 13 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.
  • 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 due to clashing palettes, so moving his intro card afterwards as a teaser was likely a way around this technical problem.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: The beans that enter the Mean Bean Machine emerge as Dalek-like little machines.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Robotnik wobbles away in his Egg-O-Matic in the ending cutscene after the machine breaks down.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • Two characters provide a stronger challenge not because of Difficulty by Acceleration but because of their AI: Frankly can catch slower players off-guard by dropping four rows of beans quickly and letting him make combos without any effort; Dynamight is the first AI character that tries to build chains on purpose, punishing players that had not yet learned how to make chains.
    • Humpty punishes players who haven't learned how to make their chains fast, start working on follow-up chains shortly after the first big chain ends, or learn to manage garbage beans yet, as their AI prioritizes cleaning up their own field of garbage beans as soon as they're sent their way. It's possible to have a massive 4+ chain only to find their field cleared before you get halfway through setting up your next major chain. They don't focus too much on making major combos, but will be able to survive until you make that one mistake that causes your board to spiral out of control.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Sir Ffuzzy-Logik speaks like this in his intro, complete with Dramatic Wind for extra flair.
    "Milord is troubled by thy success, sire. But thou art destined to proceed no further. Prepare to duel Lord Robotnik's champion."

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Robotniks Mean Bean Machine