Mercury, the Roman god of couriers and winged feet. Mercury, our next-door neighbour in the solar system. Mercury, a highly toxic metallic liquid most commonly found in thermometers. Of the three, perhaps the least likely to be the star of a video game is the metallic liquid. Yet, here we are looking at yet another Mercury game from UTV Ignition, this time on XBLA.
The gameplay has not really changed throughout the series of game and sees the player having to tilt the maze-like puzzle levels on the screen to guide a small blob of Mercury to the exit. This “Super Monkey Ball” like gameplay may seem simplistic, but hidden beneath the surface lies a frustration-creating complexity that will delight most puzzle gamers.
There are 60 levels in the main mode and the levels are unlocked in batches. Unlocking the next set of levels relies on the player obtaining atoms which are given as rewards for completing levels, with each level giving out up to four atoms. The player will receive one atom for reaching the exit, one for doing so within a time limit, one for not losing any mass on the way, and one for collecting all of the collectibles in a given level. Levels can be revisited at any time to try and obtain the missing atoms, making progression rather simple.
The routes that the player has to take through the levels are relatively easy to work out, making the game rely much more on manual dexterity than puzzle solving skills. To test the players reactions and precision, the levels add various hazards beyond the simple threat of falling from the platform. Walls, moving objects, items that push or pull the Mercury blob in one direction or another, all add to the hazards. Sometimes the player may be required to change the colour of their blob to activate gates. Other times, the blob may be split into two or more pieces to proceed. The player may even need to split the blob, change each subsequent blob to a different colour and then recombine them to create a new colour that is needed to access the exit. The levels are well thought out and offer plenty of variety.
Then there are the challenge levels in which the player will find themselves trying to complete a series of levels under certain conditions. This raises the difficulty even further, ensuring plenty of screen shouting and multiple attempts.
The included soundtrack is nothing to write home about, but the ability to import your own music certainly raises the interest, especially when the levels and background throb to the beat of your tunes. Whilst it may not be especially interesting to look at, the visuals for what they are, are crisp and colourful, bright and easy on the eye.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Mercury Hg is the price point. Clocking in at only 400 MSPoints, it is easy to recommend this little puzzle game to everyone. It may not be the most exciting game, or the most ground-breaking, but at that price it suddenly becomes very attractive.
It may not be a Roman god or a celestial body, but this little blob of metallic liquid and its bargain price on XBL will keep your thumbs twiddling well into the evening. Highly recommended.