Mercury Meltdown Revolution
Once upon a time when the PSP was in its development stages and the gaming world eagerly awaited the handheld’s imminent release, people may not be aware that it was supposed to have motion sensing control implemented into its design which sadly fell by the wayside. One of the PSP’s best launch games that yearned for motion sensing control was Archer MacLean’s Mercury, a title that was welcomed by gamers for not being a port of a PlayStation 2 game (something the system was guilty of early in its life) and a title made primarily for the handheld. So it’s almost ironic that the sequel should find itself on the Nintendo Wii, but it is all the better for it.
The premise in Mercury Meltdown Revolution is simple in its explanation and simply brilliant in its execution. It opens with a quick tutorial that teaches the player all the basics and fundamentals needed to progress through the game and doesn’t bombard the player with over complicated controls or unnecessary information. The last thing you need going into Mercury Meltdown is confusion. You must take your blob of mercury and using the motion sensing controls of the Wii Remote tilt this piece of elemental matter through a series of courses, the finish flag being your final target. As expected, it’s never a case of simply guiding your mercury to its intended destination and you’ll find yourself floating, meandering and rolling your way past obstacles and your brain is going to need to be at peak condition in order to clear some of the later levels. The task a player can expect to come across most frequently is changing the colour of your mercury because many of the levels require the player to reach the finish flag as a specific colour. As a result, co-ordination is imperative since you’ll be required to control more than one globule at a time mixing and matching colours recurrently.
There are other ‘problems’ that your mercury will encounter. Mecroids are there to run the player down and consume as much of you as possible, which can be a real annoyance when certain levels involve finishing with a certain amount of mercury left over. That’s not the only way in which a level can be failed; falling off a stage completely is the main culprit and doing so many times is not good for your state of mind either. Disappointment soon turns to irritation and Mercury Meltdown Revolution is a game that requires calm and above all else a clear head. The element itself may be a liquid at room temperature but you need to be made of steel in order to progress. Levels also come with a timer but even completing the courses outside of this time limit is enough for you to move on to the next stage so it’s more of toothless tiger than something to panic over. Unless of course you’re a player that likes to see their initials at the top of every scoreboard, then reaching the finish in time is essential. Also, collecting enough bonus items unlocks party games that can be played alone or with a friend acting as an incentive to fully complete levels, which thankfully, are enjoyable enough to warrant the extra effort.
What makes Mercury Meltdown Revolution such a blast to play through is that the clump of mercury moves in a manner in which you’d expect a piece of liquid to behave. It’ll break up if it comes in contact with something sharp, it’ll ooze its way to the floor as you tilt the Wii Remote every so carefully off the edge of a level and it reacts to changes in temperature. Becoming solid when it’s put under cold conditions or liquidising further if heated, so when part of your mercury drips down into the abyss you only ever have yourself to blame. The game is never unfair, so only complete incompetence or carelessness will result in a player’s undoing.
Visually, it’s certainly not the most impressive game you’ll ever see. Environments have a cel-shaded gleam about them and the colours are vivacious but it never feels as if the Wii is breaking any kind of sweat running the game. What players get in return is a watertight frame rate and lightening quick load times, so failing a level becomes an easier pill to swallow because you’ll be straight back into the thick of things within a few seconds. Like the mercury itself, the game is very fluid and it’s never a chore to repeat the same level twice. The soundtrack doesn’t get the body moving with excitement either, you won’t remember the songs or want to hum to their tune as you play, yet they won’t aggravate enough for you to reach for the mute button on the TV remote.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution isn’t going to shift consoles, but it’s a quirky puzzler with an extremely intuitive control scheme that clicks from the minute the game loads. After a dry spell in the console’s life, it’s an element usually associated with one of the solar system’s hottest planets that provides a refreshing change which will hopefully kick start a surge of quality titles for a system in desperate need of more games like this.
Seven out of ten