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Mercury Meltdown PSP

Published by Ignition Entertainment
Developed by Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Mercury Meltdown, an introduction.

When the PSP launched last year it was fair to say it arrived with mostly mediocre titles. There were some games that were well worth the asking price. We were lucky enough to review a couple of these such as Everybody’s Golf and Ridge Racer. Sadly though we missed out on a few and one of the games we missed out on, which received critical acclaim, was Archer MacLean’s Mercury.  Mercury was essentially a puzzle game where you had to guide different coloured mercury blobs around 3D mazes by tilting the level rather than directly controlling the blob. Naturally there were a variety of obstacles to overcome and the game provided plenty of challenge. By all accounts it was one of the best games to arrive in the early stages of the handheld’s life here in Europe. Here we have the sequel to Mercury, Mercury Meltdown.

What’s the game about?

Mercury Meltdown keeps the same addictive formula that made the original game so popular. You’ll have to guide your blob (or blobs) of Mercury through a variety of levels, whilst avoiding all kinds of hazards, to the finish pad (or pads in some cases). You need to finish a level with a specified amount of mercury as indicated by the gauge on the left of the HUD. Naturally this may seem a little simplistic but thanks to a variety of objects you’ll need to interact with and a splendid array of hazards you’ll need to avoid, the game is anything but a bland cakewalk. The game provides a Single Player mode where you’ll have to progress through eight different science labs that each have a generous amount of levels (in fact there are over 160 completely new levels in the game). Multiplayer is supported with a two-player ad-hoc mode (game sharing is supported so your friend won’t need a copy of the game). There are also five different party games such as Rodeo, Race, Metrix Shove and Paint. The game also provides a way of downloading additional levels that will appear in the future further increasing your value for money. A Tutorial mode has been included to allow you to get to grips with the game. Suffice to say there’s enough here to keep you busy for months.

What’s good about the game?

Your mercury blob can be heated up (making it move more quickly as well as more likely to separate into smaller blobs), be cooled down (making it less mobile), be separated into smaller blobs, be cut in half and much, much more. There are times when you’ll need to divide your blob into smaller colours, have each portion change colour and then have the blobs reunite to form a new colour. In addition to this there are enemies out to get you to such as the Mercoid, Jerkoid and Spectroid creatures. It’s not just the enemies and hazards that spell danger. Like in Super Monkey Ball the levels are suspended in mid-air so it’s possible for you to fall over the edge and when your mercury isn’t in one piece it’s an all too easy occurrence. Of course the more challenging levels are also tricky to navigate. This all makes for a game that’s both hugely addictive and challenging too.

What’s bad about the game?

Mercury Meltdown doesn’t have a lot that’s wrong with it to be fair. What I would say though is that it’s a shame the analogue stick on the PSP isn’t as good as it should be. With practice you’ll find yourself compensating for its deficiencies but initially it feels a little sluggish when compared to a real analogue stick (the one on the PSP is more of a nub after all) that you’ll find on a console controller. 

How does it look?

The game does have a cartoon look about it which works surprisingly well. The levels are very colourful and yet they are easy on the eyes. The mercury blob moves in quite a realistic fashion and it’s impressive to note the changes that occur when you heat up and cool down the blob. Mercury Meltdown is truly impressive in that the load times are actually quite speedy and you won’t find yourself hanging around for 30+ seconds for loading times. If only all PSP titles could be that impressive in this respect. The presentation of the game as a whole is definitely up there with any other game on the handheld.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Mercury Meltdown is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. All of the information in the game is provided either through text or via the HUD meaning you’ll miss out on nothing. The tutorials are all in text as are the hints which you can access. During the early levels you will receive tutorial messages for each new item/obstacle as you encounter them, which is a method that works well. The manual is comprehensive in its coverage of all the game’s aspects and is well worth a read, which is more than can be said for most game manuals these days.

Final thoughts.

We’ve already seen quite a few puzzle games on the PSP which is understandable given that they are just the kind of games that are ideal for playing on journeys short or long. We haven’t seen that many puzzle games that have truly impressed though. In fact only Exit springs to mind as a puzzle game that was a must have title. Thankfully in Mercury Meltdown we now have another title that simply can’t be ignored. As with all of the great puzzle games it’s easy to learn but difficult to master and there’s more than enough content here to last you for months. Who would have thought moving a blob of virtual mercury could have been such fun?

Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Along with Exit, Mercury Meltdown is the best puzzle game you can currently purchase for the PSP. It's simple to get into but difficult to master. The level of challenge is just right and with over 160 levels to solve (as well as more downloadable ones to come) it will keep you busy for months.