Tuesday, 16 April 2013

52-Week Challenge - Game #3 - Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Developers: Compile, SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Released: December 1993
Console: SEGA Mega-Drive (Genesis)

When this game popped up as the next one for the challenge, I must admit I was absolutely dreading it. I've tried to play this game before and I struggled majorly - I'd never gotten past the third level of Scenario Mode. How on earth was I going to beat all 13 levels? Well...as it turns out...I'm very good at doing the same over and over until I get the results I want. But first, the game itself. It was a reskin of Puyo-Puyo for North American SEGA consoles, it was released on the Genesis as well as the Master System and Game Gear consoles. The characters were based on the early 90s 'Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog' cartoon.While it is featured in many Sonic compilations, it does not feature Sonic anywhere in the game. 

I'll be playing the 'SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection' version on the PS3, which is a straight-up emulation of the Mega Drive game (this is why the following images have borders). There is no extra to be earned, but merely beating the game is worth a gold trophy. 

The story is as follows: Robotnik has kidnapped the citizens of Beanville and is turning them into robots, because that's what he does. It is up to us (yes, US!) to destroy his Mean Bean Machine and free the beans! In order to do this, we must defeat his twelve lackeys.

I would say this is a fun multiplayer game, though it's been years since I have played against a human. Exercise mode is basically training and options is self-explanatory. What we're interested in here is the Scenario Mode. This is where we'll play against the computer and pray for a win.

The first stage is against 'Arms' here. He is too easy, you really shouldn't fail against him.

This is what the board looks like. If you've played Tetris before, you'll know that you absolutely do not want to the beans to overflow out of the top. That is Game Over. You want to bunch together four of the same coloured beans...

...which causes THIS to happen...

Now, you'll learn pretty quickly that this won't be enough to beat most of the levels. Setting up combos, or a bunching together a higher number of beans, will be the key to beating the game. Why? Well, other than getting you extra points, it also does something to your opponent's board...

See those clear beans? They will drop onto your opponent's board when you bunch together beans. If you just clear four beans, you will only occasionally get one clear bean. A combo of two groups can give you roughly a whole line of clear beans, while a combo of four or five will cause three or even four lines of clear beans onto your enemy - most times this alone will grant you a victory. 

If your opponent reaches the top of their board before you do, then you will win, be given a bonus depending on the time it took to win and you move on,

This is Frankly, and he can be rather tough if you're not experienced with this game. I had forgotten about nearly everything, so it took me an embarrassingly long time to win. 

This was only the second level, but these images tell the story of my general experience playing this game - almost constant failure. I had to learn quickly the various tricks and I had to learn how to create combos, or else I would never finish the game.

It still wasn't enough. By the last few bosses, the speed the beans drop is insane. I don't have the reflexes to keep up...the computer does. My one tip for the level 10-13 bosses is simply to NOT go for combos, and just try to survive. Eventually, an opportunity will arise to get a decent combo. It's all about luck and that really frustrated me near the end. I'm sure a skilled player would be able to manage, or at least one with great reflexes, but I am neither. Still...I managed to EVENTUALLY get to the final boss who is...of course...

Dr. Robotnik, or Dr. Eggman as he is called these days. This is insanely difficult, and it was a stroke of luck that granted me the victory here...

You can get rid of the clear beans by clearing a group of beans next to it. Sometimes this will accidentally set up a combo for you. In this case, it set off a chain reaction of four groups, and victory was inevitable.

The beans are free, and so am I of this game. It was hard, but I'm a stubborn bastard and I kept going until I won. Games where I have to rely on luck really frustrate me, but I will happily play this game against another human one day. Not only that, it gave me a shiny gold trophy for my efforts.

Now, when Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine started to frustrate me, I decided I would start on the next game of the challenge, just in case I couldn't beat it. I was expecting something equally as frustrating, or something as long as New Vegas. But for once, the Fortune Cookie feature on Backloggery was incredibly kind to me - giving me a nice relaxing game of...

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