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Caféman's Blog - Mean Bean Machine, Part Two


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Original Post follows, with update at the bottom!

I've been playing Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine on X360 Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. Oh what a frustrating battle, but I finally beat the quest mode and beat Dr. Robotnik's level, and got the achievement.

I wonder how many gamers, without skipping directly to that level via a GameFAQs password , have seen this stage:

I think it is programmed well, with good visuals, good puzzler game play (in concept), and very good music composed by Masanori Hikichi. I only now realized the Compile created Puyo Puyo and this version for SEGA - that's Compile who did the wonderful MUSHA and Robo Aleste, also difficult games. But shmups are supposed to be difficult - this puzzle game is so incredibly frustrating!

As I played through the 13 levels of Scenario mode, every time I beat an opponent, I did a save state. I played and lost some stages at least 50 times before beating them. I did start to get better skills - recognizing when to rotate one way vs the other - but this game is HARD! I bet it made kids cry back in the day. It just gets too fast. Many times, I was doing well but made 1 mistake and that was the end - the opponent did a miraculous comeback and defeated me. I felt I didn't have enough time to mentally think and build a good combo; instead I was often just trying to survive, playing more on the defense. Once a ton of 'garbage beans' got dumped onto my side, it was usually inevitable that I'd lose the stage again. I half expected the game to inform me, chess-style, "checkmate in 10 moves!" because I felt there was nothing I could do at that point.

Then you have the art. Uglier "Sonic" characters there have never been. The bad guys are from the the Sonic cartoon of the early 90's, but it is jarring to see the poor character designs here. I don't like how Robotnik is drawn at all. All the art is unlike the usual Sonic game art. It is satisfying to see their defeated pictures though.

So, just sharing the frustration but also the conquest of beating it. I never played the original Compile Puyo Puyo, but was wondering if its 1-player mode was also this frustrating?

Update on May 2 -

I kept at this game even after finally seeing the ending. I kept thinking there were strategies that I just wasn't getting. Then I started to see how to get the highest possible score. The best way for high score is to start at level one and beat each opponent/stage as quickly as possible, getting a high bonus score. These end-stage bonus scores, achieving by quick defeats of those cartoon characters, yield far higher scores that just playing each level. I got a end-stage bonus over 20,000 points once recently. Usually I'm happy to get 5,000 to 10,000 bonuses. If you take too long , you get no bonus and might only score a few thousand points in that stage. So, below you can see my progression of high scores with the final one over 50,000 points. I think I made it to the purple pig-on-wheels ("Skweel" ?) before being defeated. Once you continue of course your score goes back to zero.

To get that far without losing, I had learned to recognize patterns and to always try to set up chain reactions. I try to never cash in on a foursome set unless I can get at least a 2-set combo. But when the game starts to get wicked, it turns into survival gameplay and I just take whatever I can as the pieces start to accelerate. I doubt I could build 2- and 3-combo sets on-purpose once I reach the harder stages. At that point, the pieces drop so fast that it is mostly a shuffling of the correct color to the left or to the right side, repeat until you win or die.

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