Review: Mercury Hg
The last Mercury game I played was released in 2005 for the PSP. When Mercury Hg was announced for PS3, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I remember having a good time playing the first game, but its sequel, Mercury Meltdown, released off of my radar. Less than a week ago, the brand new HD iteration of the game released on the PlayStation Network. I started playing the game at around 10:00pm and it wasn’t long before the clock struck 2:30am. Hours had melted away while I worked my way through the Periodic Table of Elements, unlocking new stages and replaying old ones to score chase like a champion. The game plays like a mixture of Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. You control a level by tilting it, and your objective is to slide a blob of Mercury to a goal. Sometimes the goal is color-coded, requiring that you change your blob’s color, and other times you’re forced to activate a number of different switches before the goal is reachable.
There are three game modes in Mercury Hg, and each of them has its own merits. In Discovery Mode, the stage select screen is the Periodic Table of Elements. Each element is a different level, and each level has four atoms to obtain. The atoms are collectible items that can be achieved by completing certain tasks.
1) Complete the level with 100% Mercury (don’t drop any Mercury off of the edges).
2) Complete the level in under a specified time.
3) Collect all bonuses in a given level.
4) Complete the level.
The more atoms you collect, the more elements you unlock. There are 60 levels in the game and two downloadable level packs. By completing the 60 base levels in Discovery Mode, you unlock different Bonus levels and Challenge level packs.
There are 20 Bonus levels to unlock, each of them a reversed version of a regular level. You start out as a small blob of Mercury and must collect vials of Hg. You can only complete a level by collecting all of the vials (taking your blob to 100%) then reaching the goal. It’s surprisingly difficult to get through these levels. The Challenge Mode offers a play style similar to Mortal Kombat’s endurance matches. There are 10 different challenge groups, each of which requires that you beat 2-5 levels (different groups have more or less levels than others) in a row while fulfilling certain tasks. For example, one challenge group asks you to beat two levels in a row with at least 75% Mercury remaining in under 40 seconds. Another group requires that you complete five select levels in under 260 seconds, collecting at least 15 bonus pickups throughout. Just like the Bonus levels, these will offer more of a challenge than the Discovery Mode levels. I enjoyed playing all of the different modes in Mercury Hg, but entranced me about the game is its Leaderboard support and smart Custom Soundtrack implementation.
In Mercury Hg, every Discovery Mode level has two different leaderboards, one for high score, another for fastest time. The best way to achieve a high score is to complete a level with 100% of your Mercury intact and collecting all of the bonus pickups as quickly as possible. Getting a fast time doesn’t require that you have 100% Mercury. This leads to some creative route mapping and multiple plays to try to perfect your strategy. If you’re having a hard time concocting a solid plan, the game allows you to download the top leaderboard entry’s ghost and race against it. If you’re shooting for fast times, expect to download my ghost quite a bit. I’ve spent a whole lot of time topping different leaderboards. What eased this maniacal playstyle was the fact that I could listen to my own music. Mercury Hg supports custom soundtracks and thensome. Your blob of mercury pulsates to the beat of your music while various other equalizer-inspired graphics flare up around the level. It may be subtle, but it goes a long way toward immersing you into the game. While your music is playing, you can press right or left on the d-pad to skip songs, press up to select a new folder or song, and down to revert to the music that came packed with the game.
Mercury Hg surprised me in a few different ways. I remember the original game being a bit more difficult than this one. I think they’ve done a great job streamlining the Mercury experience, making it more enjoyable for the masses. However, the competitiveness that comes from allowing players to duke it out on every single level is staggering. I like the fact that the game shows how many attempts a player put forth to achieve his leaderboard rank; it’s funny in retrospect to look at how many times I actually played a given level. Downloading and uploading replay data is a breeze, and all of the leaderboards update extremely quickly. If you don’t have any music on your hard drive, the game’s default playlist is actually very good. It’s a collection of songs from Sugar Jesus and Jilk that spans from soothing melodies to thumping techno beats. My only problem with listening to the default playlist is that the songs shuffle each time you start a level, meaning I rarely ever got to hear an entire song. This isn’t the case when playing custom music. I played a bit with the SixAxis controls. They work just fine but lack the precision it takes to put up competitive scores/times. I recommend trying it out because you may like it, especially if you’re playing casually. I’m going to stick with analogue controls; come see me at the top of the leaderboards.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Leaderboard score chasing
- Smart, cool custom soundtrack support
- Bonus and challenge levels
What I Dislike:
- In-game music shuffles often