Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and Columns III: Revenge of the Columns are two excellent Windows versions of popular SEGA Genesis puzzle games. The games are both Tetris-style "falling blocks" games but with some differences. Dr. Robotnik is more similar to Puyo Puyo (and, in fact, SEGA used characters from Compile's classic just creating their own storyline): you rotate pairs of jelly-like blobs to connect at least four of the same color. In addition to normal horizontal and vertical lines, you can also score by forming C-, F-, H-, L-, S-, and T-shaped crosses or even small 1's and 4's. The range of freedom is restricted only by the fact that you cannot connect blobs diagonally. In a fun "combat" mode (against another player or the computer), a high-scoring combo will cause some beans to magically appear on the other side to cause headaches to your opponent. Like all fun Tetris games, creative massive combos are a lot of fun, since that creates a massive amount of "garbage" blobs on your opponent's side, causing instant death. The combat mode in Columns III is similarly fun, except here you are playing with jewels instead of blobs. Successful combos push up your opponent's "base", thus giving him/her less playing room. You can even get special jewels by performing combos. For example, a triple chain reaction (where 3 sets of jewels disappear simultaneously or consecutively) causes a flashing jewel to appear. When you make this disappear, it will cause some very nasty effects for your opponent - my favorite being forcing him/her to play upside down! :) You can even play a 4-player game in Columns III (if you have enough gamepads), making the game even more fun.
Both games are worthy additions to your collection if you are a Tetris or falling-blocks fan. They are especially fun if you have a friend to play against. Two thumbs up, way up!Reviewed by: Underdogs