Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Mercury Meltdown

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Electronic Theatre ImageSo here we are again with the second Mercury game, Mercury Meltdown. Created by Archer Maclean just for the PlayStation Portable, the unique slip and slid Puzzle game returns, minus the infamous developers name. Over the past fourteen years, Archer Maclean has created five titles and they have been converted into twenty-one different versions for machines as diverse as the Commodore64, Amiga, PC, and SNES, and if that doesn’t impress you enough, out of the twenty-one different versions, Archer Maclean wrote thirteen of them, entirely; the code, the graphics, the sound, everything. And eleven of these games have been number one hits. Archer Maclean’s first game was Drop Zone, a famous game of the eighties and of course, International Karate one of the most prestigious fighting games ever released. But away from all the microprocessor boards and the CGA four colours, he created Mercury. Mercury certainly wasn’t Maclean’s first foray into Puzzle game territory, but with the advanced technology, it was clearly his best work graphically, and one of the first to use a part liquid object to move about the Levels. Part of the games uniqueness is that you don’t move the mercury, instead, you move the Level in a similar way to the Super Monkey Ball series, making the game especially hard in places.


If you have played the first Archer Macleans Mercury you will know how unique the “blob” is, but with only seventy-two different Levels, the second in the series – Mercury Meltdown – crashes-in with over one-hundred-and-sixty new and different Levels. To progress through the Levels, the player is set the task of changing to state of the mercury, including normal, hot, cold, and solid. Each different state of mercury either helps you get to the Goal of the Level or simply makes an area more challenging, should it be the wrong Electronic Theatre Imageselection. Some of the Levels seem impossible, such as when you play upside-down and everything then becomes backwards. You also have the ability to split the mercury when colliding with sharp objects, certain Levels require mercury of different colours to pass through the Goal, and so splitting the mercury into separate units will allow you to recreate the whole blob as your set colour. Some Levels feature environmental hazards, such as the Anti-Gravity Field, through which the controls are reversed, which the player will need in order to land the mercury in a further area, closer to the Goal.

In the first of Archer Maclean’s Mercury’s , the actual mercury looks very accurate, as if it’s almost real. The levels also looked very good; odd, but good. However in the second release, Mercury Meltdown, the series moved from having a realistic look to having a Cartoon image. The Press Releases state that the idea is to expand the game’s audience, with the new visual theme creating a more accessible gaming experience. However, the new Cel-Shaded presentation simply doesn’t look as good as the first title’s realism-approach, almost looking like a Crash Bandicoot Puzzle game as a similar stance with the likes of Pokemon Link, but after the first couple of Levels, when it gets hard, more variety is enveloped by the title, and it begins to reminisce the finer points of the first title’s aesthetics.

While Mercury Meltdown benefits from the “just one more go…” archetype, I guarantee the rather lame elevator-music will turn you completely insane before you finish the game, unless you Mute the machine. The music is sort of futuristic-spacey kind of thing, and totally devoid or any panache when juxtaposed with the subject matter; in other words, listen to some of your own music when playing this game.

After playing this game for a considerable amount of time – Electronic Theatre Imagewith the sound distinctly switched to “off” – the sense of frustration and achievement normally inherent with Puzzle games envelopes the player ten-fold. Certain Levels are ridiculously difficult, and saying that the title isn’t challenging would be a bare-faced lie, however, the extensive selection and new option to move on past an uncompleted task (should other requirements be met) make the title far more practical for beginners than it’s predecessor. Without Archer Maclean in-tow, it seems that the credibility of the series has been knocked somewhat, and while the title may be more encouraging to those new to the series, fans of the first title may end-up resenting ATARI’s insistence on the production of a sequel.







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