first Mercury was a great game, but it had its problems. The fine folks
working on Mercury Meltdown listened to their fans and read the reviews, so
this time around they’ve really improved on the first game’s flaws.
Mercury Meltdown is
planned to have over 160 levels. These levels are broken down into “labs”
where each level shares a similar theme. You no longer have to complete every
level to open the lab. Now all you have to do is accrue a certain amount of
mercury, which is built up using the amount of mercury you finish each level
with. You can also unlock bonuses by completing levels within a time limit
(but this time it isn’t required) and collecting bonus items. Each level’s
completion is represented by a test tube full of mercury. When you’ve
completed everything in a given level the tube is corked.
There have been a lot of
gameplay upgrades as well. You now have a free
look mode by pressing select, so you can check out the whole level in detail
and plan your route. The goal of each level is also easier to see, and is
constantly pointed out by a floating arrow.
The puzzles have also
been creatively expanded. There are now objects in the environment that will
alter the consistency of your blob. Things like heat pads that will make the
mercury more runny, objects to cool your blob and make it a little thicker and
sticky, and now your mercury can even turn into a solid ball to roll down
rails. There are still levels that call for color mixing, and this time around
a color palette in the corner will help you remember what colors make what.
Aside from colors, I saw in the trailer that you can also mix numbers, so math
may come into play in some of the later levels.
There are also a handful
of party games this time around, in case you feel like taking a break from the
puzzle-solving. I played a couple of these party games; the first was called
Paint. The point was to cover a canvas with paint, using my blob of mercury as
the brush. At the same time another player is trying to do the same thing. You
can paint over the other players trail, and there are random
powerups that appear that may help or hurt. I was
only playing a bot, but I can see that game
getting very competitive with a human opponent. The other one I played was
basically shuffle board. Powerups appear in that
game too, and to get them you have to plan your rebounds off of the wall to
try and stop in the target.
Mercury Meltdown is also
taking a lot of steps towards multiplayer. It will support up to two
players in the party game mode. Meltdown will also
have the gamesharing feature, so a friend without
the game can download a demo off of another friend’s copy.
A few other changes
include the addition of autosave, a graphical
shift into a more cel-shaded look, and a huge
reduction in load times. I never really had to wait for the game to load – it
Mercury Meltdown still
has until September to come out, but it already looks and plays wonderfully.
Even at this stage it’s a significant improvement over the first. We’ll post
more info as we get it, and keep an eye out for Mercury Meltdown for the PSP