Release Date: November 29, 2006
Mercury Meltdown Remix is a puzzle game in which you must guide a blob of mercury through a series of increasingly challenging levels. Your goal is to reach the finish mark in each level while losing as little mercury as possible and in the fastest time possible. Created by the same company that brought you the original Mercury and the sequel Mercury Meltdown for the PSP, Mercury Meltdown Remix is a revamped version of the latest PSP offering, with a number of additions.
Mercury Meltdown Remix feels reminiscent of the days of Marble Madness, albeit with a number of more challenging puzzle elements. You control your blob of mercury by tilting the level, and in some cases, you will be controlling multiple blobs of mercury. The basic idea of the game is to simply reach the finish line, but there are many obstacles and puzzles which you must overcome in order to complete the levels. These challenges range from avoiding enemies and pits, to activating timed switches and dividing your mercury into multiple blobs. The levels become increasingly trickier as you progress. Some levels will require you to pass through a painting machine to change your color in order to pass through certain barriers, and later on, you will have to split your mercury into separate blobs, change them into different colors, and recombine them to form a new color.
One of the major changes from its predecessor was the addition of mercury states. Throughout various levels, you will find mechanisms that will transform your mercury blob into its heated, cooled, or solidified form. When your blob is heated, you will move much faster on the level and break apart very easily. When cooled, your mercury blob will move much slower and become highly viscous. When your mercury is in its solid state, it is a sphere, and the mercury won't separate.
There is a meter on the left of the screen that shows what percent of mercury you have remaining. When you finish a level, you earn a score based on your finish time, the percent of mercury remaining, and the amount of bonuses you collected. Each second under par time earns you 1,000 points, each percent of mercury you have at the end of the level earns you 500 points, and each bonus collected earns you 2,000 points. One thing you'll notice when going for the high scores is that the bonuses are often not worth getting. Each second under par time is 1,000 points, so if it takes more than two seconds to grab a bonus, you'll have actually lost points in the venture. Finishing quickly with a high percent of remaining mercury will usually land you the high score.
As you progress through the levels, Mercury Meltdown Remix records your statistics. Earning high scores, collecting all of the bonuses, and finishing the levels with as much mercury as possible will earn points toward unlocking new levels, skins, and party games. These tasks do not need to be done in the same playthrough of a level, though. For instance, you can go through a level very slowly and carefully to get the bonuses and the 100% mercury finish record, after which you could quickly go through again for a high score, but possibly with some loss of mercury. Afterwards, you will have the records for the high score, the bonuses and completion with 100% mercury. Two progress bars can be seen on the level select screen, which shows how close you are to unlocking new levels and party games.
Mercury Meltdown Remix contains over 200 levels to play through, which is over 40 more levels than were in Mercury Meltdown. There's enough content here to last for many hours, especially if you are trying to get 100% mercury completion and the high score on all of the levels. The designers did manage to create the levels without resorting to massive amounts of repetition; many of the levels will use the same enemies, objects, and traps, but they will be combined in new ways that keep the gameplay interesting. The game presents a varied amount of difficulty. Many of the early levels are trivial to complete and will only take one or two tries, but the difficulty scales fairly, and it starts to provide more challenge in the later levels. This is especially evident when you reach the point where you must control multiple blobs of different colors in different states.
Some of the controls feel as if they were brought over to the PS2 without much thought behind it. The camera controls only move in 90-degree rotations, which makes sense for the PSP since it lacks analog controls, but for the dual analog PS2 controller, it would seem more intuitive if it had free-roaming camera control.
The game uses, which tends to lend itself well to this style of game, and it would seem this is what the developers were going for.
If you've played Mercury Meltdown on the PSP, you'll notice that the graphics on Remix look almost identical to its handheld predecessor. On the PSP, the highly stylized cel-shaded graphics fare better in comparison to other games on the platform, but when contrasted with some offerings on the PS2, it doesn't quite look so hot. Since the game looks just as good on the PSP as it does on the PS2, one may wonder why the price tag is much higher on the PS2 version.
The audio quality is about what you would expect from a puzzle title. Remix has a selection of synthesized music tracks which accompany the gameplay, as well as a number of run-of-the-mill sound effects. Given the nature and style of the game, the audio portion is sufficient enough and doesn't detract from the experience.
In addition to new levels, you will also unlock a number of party games. The party games include several Mario Party-style games, such as one where you must stay on a platform while an increasingly strong fan attempts to blow you off, a Tetris-style puzzle mini-game, and a racing mini-game. These modes would prove to be entertaining, if not for the lack of multiplayer support. The game has no multiplayer support at all, which is actually a downgrade from Mercury Meltdown.
Mercury Meltdown Remix presents some interesting puzzle designs that are both unique and challenging, and it also has enough content to satisfy puzzle enthusiasts for a good amount of playtime. However, the fact that it is, in some ways, a worse game than the predecessor from which it was ported detracts from its appeal. Remix retails for $40 on the PS2, which is $10 more than the PSP version, and there really isn't enough material here to justify this, as most of the content was ported from the previous version and the multiplayer support was removed. If you're looking for a puzzle game and you don't have a PSP, then Mercury Meltdown Remix might be worth your time.
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