Monday, October 16, 2006
Good: Unique stages, different mercury abilities
Bad: Can be a tad difficult, somewhat touchy controls
The original Mercury was a challenging puzzle title in the vein of Super Monkey Ball, but was somewhat overshadowed at the PSP launch by Lumines. Now that the launch is far behind us, Mercury Meltdown can be released without other puzzle games stealing its thunder (and it beat Lumines 2 to the punch).
Your objective in Mercury Meltdown can be described simply: get your blob of mercury from the beginning of the level to the end. However, it's not simply a matter of navigating obstacles and hills such as in Monkey Ball or Marble Blast Ultra. Rather, the game forces you to manipulate your blob in certain ways to achieve this goal.
Colored gates won't open unless your blob matches it. Certain parts of stages will require you to solidify your blob into a pinball-esque shape. Others will require you to heat up your blob to make it more liquid. The color-matching areas are unique, as you'll have to split your blob in half and paint them the correct colors. Once joined, they'll form the color indicated by the key in the top-right of the screen.
At times, it will be very difficult to control the game properly without making your blob(s) go off in unintended directions. This is more often the case when you've split it in half. You may be focused on moving one half of it, and inadvertently cause the other to fall off the edge. There will even be times when you're controlling one blob, and a chunk of it will fall when you barely reach the edge. Considering you get end-level bonuses depending on the percent of your blob remaining intact, this can be quite frustrating.
All of the (many) stages are noticeably more colorful and vivid than the first outing. The blob itself features some interesting physics, and responds well to the environment. Controlling the camera is easy enough, as it utilizes the face buttons as well as L and R.
Fans of Marble Blast Ultra or Super Monkey Ball will most likely enjoy Mercury Meltdown, especially if they're looking for an increased challenge. A few levels can be extremely frustrating, but it's possible to skip over these if you wish. The multiplayer options and party games are also a big plus in terms of boosting replay value. If you're a puzzle fan with a PSP, you'll most likely have some fun with this title.
First Play: 7.0
Replay Value: 8.0