If you have a Wii, you might remember a game called Mercury Meltdown Remix, which took the premise of the previous PSP release that involved a metallic blob that had to reach a goal within a pre-set time limit. Along the way, certain things have to be done to reach that goal, including combining colors together to form a tone in order to get through a gate, or splitting your blob in half (via a sharp edge) to reach a smaller room. The game was insatiably fun, and reasonably priced compared to other Wii software.
Now, that game comes oozing back to the surface as a downloadable title with Mercury HG, now available on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Like its Wii brethren, it features 60 stages of blob-controlling action, with various puzzles to solve within a time limit and unique methods on reaching that goal. Like that version, it’s fairly priced, going for 400 Microsoft points ($4.99). That's half the going rate of an XBLA release (or a third, depending on what you’re buying).
Mercury still works moderately well, taking the old Marble Madness approach, but putting you in control of stage tilting rather than the object itself. You can lean any which way to move your blob around, but you’ll need to be careful so it doesn’t spill too far over the edge. Lose enough density in your blob and you’ll have to start over. Some parts of the game will challenge you to keep it together, especially small corridors where it appears to be way too easy to lose your silvery substance. (Luckily, you can “regroup” with a simple press of a button if you become separated.)
The skill-style of gameplay manages to hold together, even though it never really rises to a degree of challenge like most good puzzle games. We breezed through most of these puzzles quite handily, though we did take our time in some cases to collect bonus icons, which earn you additional stars. The more stars you unlock, the more stages you can access – so that’s nice to have.
In addition, Mercury HG also supports online leaderboards, so you can compare your best times to others. This is probably the most competitive part of the game, as you can take on friends to see who can post the best time. This helps Mercury’s longevity, and hopefully Ignition Entertainment will consider adding some DLC in the future.
It would’ve been nice to have a “create your own puzzle” mode or the kind of addictive multiplayer that other puzzle games, namely Tetris HD, possess. However, considering the price tag, Mercury HG lives up to it, so you can’t argue there.
Where presentation is concerned, Mercury HG probably won’t “wow” you, but it won’t put you to sleep either. The blob reacts like a real liquid would, breaking apart convincingly and oozing along without losing its structure – unless you hit objects. The way the stages tilt are pretty accurate too, and the background designs resemble something out of a twisted karaoke machine. The music is soothing and fun to listen to as you play, but you’ll forget it as soon as the machine is turned off.
One thing though – the PSN version comes with motion support for the Dual Shock 3. We tried this a few times, but the readout is so finicky with this controller that it’s not even worth it. Stick with traditional analog stick play.
Mercury HG is best suited to fans of puzzle games looking to blow off some steam with something different, if not off-the-wall challenging. It’s fairly priced, has a good visual and sound set-up, and has replay value to spare through competitive leaderboards. You could spend $5 on worse things. Like a bunch of silver paint you’ll never use, outside of occasional – and non-recommended – huffing.