Publisher: Ignition Studios
Developer: Awesome Studios
Release Date: September 2006
Mercury Meltdown is the sequel to the acclaimed PSP game, Mercury, which plays sort of like Marble Madness with a few twists. For those who do not know what Mercury is, it's a really simple yet complex puzzle game that can really challenge players of all ages. The objective is to move as much mercury from your starting point to the goal, with several physical challenges that will require you to think outside the box to get there. This title is great to take on the road and really exercises your mind, rather than melting it like an FPS.
If any of you remember your middle school days when your science teacher brought out that curious liquid silvery metal and showed what would happen if mercury were cooled and heated, you may be better prepared to play Mercury Meltdown. The creators have decided to add the three physical states of mercury into the sequel, in addition to including a bit of fun by allowing you to color the mercury.
Meltdown also implements an RGB (red, green, blue) system to test our noggins once again. This naturally means that there will be obstacles where you might need to be a particular color to pass through. While this sounds simple enough, you might need to combine colors to get the hue you need, and to do this, you need to split the mercury into multiple balls in order to color each one and then recombine them. This wouldn't be such a difficult in and of itself, but all the while, you also need to maneuver through the level. If you have traps or obstacles on the map, this can get really challenging really fast. Fans of the original will also notice the new visual style employed in Mercury Meltdown.
In Mercury Meltdown, the developers have listened to the fans and have made many changes based the feedback they've received. The most noticeable change is in the timing system. In the original, time determined if you passed or failed, and once time expired, you were kicked out of the level. In Meltdown, the objective now is to try and pass the level with as much mercury as possible, in the shortest amount of time possible, and with as many optional bonus items as possible. This means that you can take an entire day to attempt to pass the level if you wish, but your time score would not be very good. Finishing in time would give the player more bonuses and a better chance of unlocking more items, but it's not a requirement.
Another great feature that has changed in this incarnation is that all levels within a stage will be unlocked from the start. This means that when you begin, there will be a total of 15 levels readily available to challenge you, so if one is too hard, you can jump to another stage that is simpler. This also allows the levels to be replayed over and over again until you've completed it with 100% mercury and all of the bonus items. Additionally, there will be critters that consume your mercury; I couldn't help but think of the ghosts in Pac-Man when I saw a level that featured these enemies.
If you happen to get a bit frustrated and need some release from the challenge, you can always try playing other game modes. The game modes available in the demo were Race, Rodeo, Paint, Shove, Metrix, and the regular Battle to the Finish. Race is a battle to see who can pass the finish line the fastest, just like F-Zero with mercury instead of cars. Rodeo is where you try to keep your mercury on the platform as long as possible, and the only way you can stay on is by using a fan to blow the mercury in the opposite direction from the tilt of the platform. Paint is where your mercury tries to cover as much of the board as possible with a certain color before time runs out. Shove plays similar to shuffleboard, and the final game mode is Metrix, Ignition's own form of a block game. At first glance, it looks like it could be similar to Tetris, but it's nothing like it. Metrix requires you to create a chain of three colors, then fit them into the field so that the three colors match. It sounds easy enough, but take an average crossword puzzle and try to fit blocks into that, and you can imagine how difficult that can be.
Mercury Meltdown is packed with so much physics and items that each level will never feel the same. There are 360 levels that are packed full of a variety of challenges, so the game is a great time killer and will certainly keep you busy. The game has an intended release date of September 2006, and although we saw an alpha build, it already looks great. With planned features of a free-look camera, game sharing and downloadable content, Mercury Meltdown will be an excellent addition to anyone's gaming library.
Ricardo Chimal also contributed to this preview.
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