Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Graphics: 3
Sound: 2
Control: 3
Depth: 3
Overall: 2.5

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

By: Sega
Released: 1994

There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to get my mitts on this game. Of course, eventually I have to have all the Master System games, it goes with the disease. But it also puts the Master System head to head with The Enemy, the NES running Dr. Mario. Generally I play single player, so that's how I'll review.

OK, so they're both more match up the colored blobs and make them disappear games. In Dr. R. you're matched up against a host of Sega enemies. That's part of the charm of this game, going head to head with some of your favorites from the world of Sonic. Honestly in Dr. Mario, Mario is mostly an annoying bystander, and there aren't any other recognizable characters.

Also, while the sound effects in Dr. R are no great shakes, they're downright annoying in Dr. M. And I like the little merging bean animation from Dr. R, although the squirming microbes from Dr. M are cute for the first few minutes.

But then there's the actual game. This, I'm afraid, is where Dr. R's evil genius fails him. It's just another Puyo Puyo type game. The bugs in Dr. M. are different. Not just in the sense that we haven't seen them before, but in adding a positive, addictive quality to the game play. From the beginning to the end, destroying the germs are a palpable goal...every second of the game you can see how close you are to success or failure. When you lose you can see how close you are, compelled to try just one more time. Dr. R is just not as compelling.

So I have to give the nod to Dr. M. That said, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is a decent enough version of the game you've played before. It's definitely better than Columns, and worth hunting down if you're a fan of that style of game. Also it's worth watching the little "movie" after the title, for the fun factor of how little sense these Japanese produced gems make.

- Eric Ruck