Archer Maclean's Mercury

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Archer Maclean's Mercury
Mercury psp cover.jpg
North American boxart
Developer(s)Awesome Studios
Publisher(s)Ignition Entertainment
Designer(s)Archer Maclean
Platform(s)PlayStation Portable
  • NA: April 6, 2005
  • EU: September 1, 2005

Archer Maclean's Mercury is a puzzle video game developed by the eponymous British game programmer, Archer MacLean and Awesome Studios. In Mercury, the player tilts a level in order to get a drop of mercury to its appointed destination, in a similar fashion to Marble Madness. Levels come in different varieties that prioritize different methods of completing each level. The game was originally designed to use a tilt sensor that plugged into the PSP's USB port, but this was never released. Mercury was released in North America on April 6, 2005, and in Europe on September 1, 2005.

The game had received positive reception for its concept and level designs but had received common criticism for its difficulty. The game's success led to receiving two sequels titled. The first titled, Mercury Meltdown for PSP which was revised and ported onto PlayStation 2 and Wii. The second sequel titled Mercury Hg for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.


Gameplay of one of Mercury's Task levels. The droplet of Mercury can be manipulated to be split into two, change into different colors and merged to create a new color.

Mercury takes on similar gameplay to that of Marble Madness. The player can move the droplet of mercury around the floating stage by tilting the stage using the PSP's analog stick. The player can use the up and down directional buttons to toggle between focusing on all mercury droplets or a single droplet. If focused on a single droplet, the left and right directional buttons can be used to switch focus between individual mercury droplets. The objective of each level in the game is to guide the Mercury around the level, activating beacons using switches. The mercury droplet can split up, change color, or change shape.[1][2]

Each stage has hazards and obstacles designed to reduce the player's amount of liquid. In some levels, for example, there are no walls; if the Mercury gets too close to the edge of the stage, parts of it may drop off the level, detracting from the Mercury count. The mercury can also be split into two separate parts by a variety of means; the two droplets may then be moved around (and rejoined if they touch). The primary method of splitting the mercury is by using a splitter, a triangle-shaped object. Pushing the Mercury against a splitter will split it into two droplets.[1] In most levels, the mercury starts out as a silver color. However, by moving under Paint Shops, the color of the Mercury can be changed. Some doors (called filters) only allow matching-colored Mercury to pass through; some switches are also color-coded. If the Mercury is split up, the two droplets can be colored differently; if the two then merge, they form a new color. Color mixing is based on the RGB color model. For example, a red droplet and a green droplet can be merged to form a yellow one.[1][2]

Each level has a time limit (in seconds), Mercury level gauge (as a percentage), and a beacon count. To clear a level, all beacons on the level must be activated within that level's time and mercury limit. Beacons are usually activated by switches or pads and light up when activated. If the amount of Mercury on the level drops below the limit or time runs out, the level ends and must be restarted.[1][2]

There is a total of six worlds. Each world is split into three Race levels, three Percentage levels, three Task levels, two Combo levels, and a final boss level. Race level's objective is to simply reach the finish pad, without losing all Mercury. Time is the most important thing in race levels. Percentage levels emphasize preserving Mercury over quick completion. Percentage levels may have more hazards than others, requiring the player to be careful in guiding the Mercury around, to keep it above the limit. Task levels will have 1 to 6 beacons that must be activated to clear the level. Combo levels are either a combination of Race and Percentage levels or a combination of Percentage and Task levels. There are is each type of combo in each world available before the boss. Boss levels are a combination of Race, Percentage, and Task. They are the last levels in each world and completing them will result in unlocking the next available world.[1][2] If the highest score is achieved in all levels of one particular world, a secret 13th level is unlocked. After all secret levels are discovered and themselves have the highest scores, a secret 7th world is unlocked, although this is very difficult to accomplish.[2]

Development and release[edit]

Mercury was developed by Awesome Studios. Archer Maclean was the lead designer for the game. The game was inspired by tilting puzzle games similar to Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. The game began development when Awesome Studios used one of the minigames from Jimmy White's 2: Cueball and implemented a "liquid metal physics" prototype engine. During testing of the game, the developers noticed potential shortcuts in the game and adjusted the level design to allow more shortcuts in the game.[3] The game was originally supposed to use a tilt sensor peripheral, however couldn't be implemented due to cost and technical issues.[4] Archer Maclean chose to release the game on PSP as it could make the game more noticeable for consumers.[3] This led the game to have a tight production schedule to match the launch of the PlayStation Portable, causing the developers to cut corners in the production and resulted in the game to not be as refined as Awesome Studios intended it to be.[5] Mercury was published by Ignition Entertainment and released in North America on April 6, 2005, and in Europe on September 1, 2005.[6] A limited edition bundle was released with it's sequel, Mercury Meltdown on October 19, 2010.[7]


Aggregate score
Review scores
Pocket Gamer3.5/5 stars[14]

Mercury was received well among critics. The game has an aggregated score of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 39 reviews.[8] A common praise for the game was in regards to its level design. Eurogamer writer praised the level designs, calling them "ingenious".[2] IGN stated, "The number of levels is impressive (72 and some change), and the variety between the different designs can be deep if you get far enough to see it all."[11] GameSpot writer in particular gave praise towards the way the mercury moves, stating, "The blob itself moves around in what feels like a very realistic fashion, so it'll split up when stretched too thin, reassemble itself when squeezed together, and just generally move around like the blob that it's supposed to be--and it actually looks pretty impressive doing it."[10] Pocket Gamer made comparisons to Lumines stating, "Lumines' is more fun to play, but Mercury is more satisfying to beat."[14] PALGN made mention the difficulty of the game, stating, "The difficulty of the game does tend to gradually increase until it reaches almost ridiculous levels - eventually, some of the challenges take a few attempts before you understand exactly what must be done - but it never feels impossible."[13]


Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Mercury Meltdown (PSP)
Mercury Meltdown Remix (PS2)
Mercury Meltdown Revolution (Wii)
Mercury Hg (PS3 & Xbox 360) 74/100[18][19]

Archer Maclean's Mercury inspired two sequels for the game. The first sequel, titled Mercury Meltdown, was released PSP. The game features new puzzles and modes, as well as a more vibrant and cartoon-like style of graphics.[20] The game was ported to the PlayStation 2 titled Mercury Meltdown Remix and to the Wii called Mercury Meltdown Revolution.

A second sequel titled, ''Mercury Hg, was developed by Eiconic Games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was developed by Eiconic Games. The game adds in 60 new levels, an online leaderboard, and a Music feature that allows the Mercury blob and stage to pulsate to the player's music. Eiconic chose to go back to the core elements of the original and added a style in which the developers described as "clean and stylish".[21] Ignition Entertainment released the game on September 28, 2011.[22] The game also features ghost racing, the ability to share replays, and Sixaxis tilt controls for the PlayStation 3 version.[23] Two DLC Packages were released for the game. The first DLC titled "Heavy Elements" was released on October 19, 2011, and contains thirty discovery mode levels, ten bonus levels, and five challenges levels.[24] The second DLC titled "Rare Earth Elements" was released on November 29, 2011, and contains the same amount of content as the previous.[25] Mercury Hg received an aggregated score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews.[18][19]


  1. ^ a b c d e Archer Maclean's Mercury manual (PDF). North America: Ignition Entertainment. 2005. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tom Bramwell (April 19, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury: We test Awesome Studios' metal". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Archer Maclean talks Mercury interview". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  4. ^ "Mercury Meltdown Interview". June 27, 2006. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  5. ^ Tom Orry (June 27, 2006). "Mercury Meltdown Interview". Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  6. ^ "Archer Maclean's Mercury". Giant Bomb. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  7. ^ "Archer Maclean's Mercury & Mercury Meltdown -- 2 Games in 1!". Gamespy. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Archer Maclean's Mercury for PSP reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  9. ^ John Davison (April 24, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury (PSP) Review: The PSP's other twisted metal". Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Alex Navarro (May 5, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury review". Gamespot. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Nix (April 4, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury review (Page 3 of 3)". IGN. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  12. ^ "Archer Maclean's Mercury Review". Edge. Future plc. June 2005. p. 91.
  13. ^ a b Luke Van Leuveren (December 22, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury Review: Liquid refreshment". PALGN. Archived from the original on December 22, 2005. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Owain Bennallack (August 25, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury Review". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Mercury Meltdown for PSP reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  16. ^ "Mercury Meltdown Remix for PlayStation 2 reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  17. ^ "Mercury Meltdown Revolution for Wii". Metacritic. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Mercury Hg for PlayStation 3 reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Mercury Hg for Xbox 360 reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "Pre-E3 2006: Mercury Meltdown". IGN UK. June 30, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  21. ^ "Mercury Hg". Eiconic games. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mercury Hg". Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "Before Ignition Licensed Japanese Games They Made Mercury". September 27, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  24. ^ Victoria Medina (October 19, 2011). "Get your science on with Mercury Hg". Destructoid. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  25. ^ "Mercury Hg: Rare Earth Elements". Metacritic. Retrieved June 20, 2019.

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