Review – Mercury Hg
Please note: Level Up News was provided with the Xbox 360 copy of the game and the review is based on that version. The PS3 version differs slightly with the ability to use the Dualshock3’s SIXAXIS controls.
The Scoop: Ah, the old wooden labyrinth game. You know the one where you need to get a metal marble through a wooden maze filled with pits and traps. It’s the same mechanic that is used in many video games like the Super Monkey Ball series. When Mercury made its debut several years ago on a very young PSP; it took the concept a step further where instead of a ball you used a friction-lite mercury blob that could be separated and united. Now the successful handheld title is making the shift onto consoles with Mercury Hg. Despite the drawbacks of porting a handheld game to a console without any significant tweaks to the gameplay, the High Def upgrade is still a solid experience.
The Setup: Mercury Hg is lumped into the puzzle gaming genre but it never gets heady. Instead you’ll rely on your skills with the controller’s analog sticks to get you through the game. You’ll begin each level with your blob mercury at the start of a maze that you’ll need to get through to the end. The left analog stick tilts the maze and the right is used to move the camera. Reaching the end will unlock the next maze but there are some other side objectives you’ll want to consider completing as well. Each maze has a time limit, objects to collect and reaching the end with your blob completely intact as a bonus objective. They can be done separately or all at once which adds some replay value to the mazes. Completing these objectives will unlock bonus levels and challenge missions which come with their own set of achievements/trophies.
What’s Hot: Developer UTV Ignition Games put a lot of thought into getting the physics of the blobs movement and animations just right. I know it is something that a game like this should do automatically, but the extra effort here deserves some applause. I never once felt cheated by a wonky control scheme or default animation. If my blob fell off the edge of the maze into oblivion, I knew it was my own damn fault.
The difficulty curve in this game feels just right too. You start off simply to get a feel for the controls and the game gradually adds more elements into the mazes. The more advanced mazes will lose walls, holes will open in the floor and you’ll eventually have to split the blob into three pieces and control them all at the same time. Again, it never gets too heady but you will find the later levels a challenge.
What’s not: The game claims that using your own music as background plays an integral part of the game play. I really didn’t see how. During some levels the floor will move to the beat of the music you’re playing, but I didn’t find any difference between the game’s default music and what I had on my 360’s hard drive. I suppose you could “cheat” and play some softer music to breeze through the level, but the experience seemed like a gimmick to get it labeled as a music game.
The mazes are short and never take longer than a few minutes to complete which is great for a handheld game; however, I would have liked to have sunk my teeth into a few mazes that offered a deeper experience. The game never takes advantage of me sitting on the couch with my console for an hour or two.
A couple of technical things to mention: All of the text on screen is in white which doesn’t work well on the mazes that use a white background and my 360 would sometimes experience a huge drop in frame rate when restarting levels. It wasn’t a huge issue since restarting the level again would resolve it, but it is worth mentioning.
Final Verdict: The normal campaign or what the game calls “challenge mode” can be done in one sitting, but the bonus levels and attempting to get all 240 objectives in them will take a few more. If you are at all interested in this game (you must be if you read this far) than by all means pay the $5 it’ll cost you on XBLA or the PSN. The overall experience of running through the short mazes may be better suited for the PSP, but this console version is done well enough for it to be worth your time.Review - Mercury Hg,