Way back in 2005, Mercury was released for PlayStation Portable and was quite well received as an innovative game on the new platform. A sequel was later released but after that nothing was heard from the Mercury game until now. Mercury Hg is the next game in the series and has settled down on the Xbox 360 Marketplace with a fresher look and even more complex levels to get your head around but even at 400 Microsoft Points, is it worth it?
The aim of Mercury Hg is to move a small blob, of mercury, around a platform to the finish block by tilting the platform using the left analog stick. This may sound simple but considering you are aiming to complete each level under the par time, gather all the collectables, gain a high enough score and make sure you still have one hundred per cent of your mercury blob, which can be lost by it falling off the edge of the platform, it’s actually quite challenging at times. The game features a nice set of tutorial levels which will explain all of the features in game from picking up collectables to changing the colour of your blob to enter specific parts of the platform or hit colour coded switches. Some levels require you to split your blob into two and use the colour changing machines to make both parts different colours to access new areas and in some cases mix colours to form new ones, so there is a lot of variety as you progress through levels.
After completing the tutorial sections, you will be taken to Discovery Mode which consists of sets of levels, each more challenging than the last, and upon completion begin to build up the periodic table. If you manage to fulfil all the requirements of a level you will unlock Challenge Mode and bonus levels that can be played from the main menu. The Challenge Mode levels are considerably harder than the Discovery Mode ones and the bonus levels have a different concept entirely. In the bonus levels you will start with a small blob of mercury and must collect vials to increase the size of the blob. Unless you have a fully grown blob, you will be unable to finish the levels so this tests your ability to collect the vials swiftly while still keeping the blob from losing any of its growth off the edge of the map. There are close to one hundred levels in total and will take some time to complete all of them perfectly so for such a cheap price this game really delivers on content.
Mercury Hg features a very funky soundtrack full of techno tunes and is a joy to listen to while navigating the twisty levels and actually helped keep up the pace of the game. If the default music doesn’t impress you though, you have the ability to play your own music providing it’s on your hard drive or USB stick. The music also manipulates the blocks in the level so it can be interesting to see how different music genres change the way the game is played. The game features global leaderboards for your score and time on each level and for those of you looking for an extra challenge you can download the ghost of the top player in each level and try and perfect your skills and become the top scorer. One thing the game did suffer from is a few frame rate issues. Out of all the levels, around five to ten would start with severe frame rate issues meaning the game was completely unplayable. The only way to ‘fix’ this was to restart the level from the menu but in a few cases this still didn’t fix the issue and full reboot of the game was needed. It’s a shame to see this as for the most part the game worked perfectly and there was no indication as to what was causing the slowdown.
Mercury Hg is a nice little game that is easy to play but hard to master for some of the later levels. Although it has some frame rate issues, for 400 Microsoft Points you will happily find yourself with enough play time to justify your purchase and some easy achievements if that’s what you are going for.