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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
Release
  • NA: April 6, 2005
  • EU: September 1, 2005
Genre(s)Puzzle-platformer
Mode(s)Single-player

Archer Maclean's Mercury is a puzzle-platformer video game for the PlayStation Portable developed by the eponymous British game programmer, Archer Maclean and Awesome Studios. In Mercury, the goal is to guide a drop of mercury to its appointed destination by tilting the stage, in a similar fashion to Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball. Levels come in different varieties that prioritize different methods of completing each level. The game was conceived when Archer Maclean used a previous minigame from Jimmy White's Cueball World and added a liquid metal physics. It was originally designed to have motion controls by using a tilt sensor peripheral for the PSP but was never released due to technical constraints. 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 original concept and level designs but had received mixed reception for its difficulty. The game's success led to receiving two sequels. The first, titled Mercury Meltdown, was released for PSP, then revised and ported onto PlayStation 2 and Wii. The second sequel, titled Mercury Hg, was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Gameplay[edit]

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 is a puzzle video game that takes on similar gameplay to that of Marble Madness. The player can manipulate a droplet of mercury to move in the player's desire direction 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 navigate the mercury around the stage and reach the goal.[1][2] The HUD is made up of a time limit measured in seconds, a mercury level gauge measured in percentages, 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]

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 separate parts by a variety of means. The primary method of splitting the mercury is by using a splitter, a triangle-shaped object. Moving the mercury against a splitter will split it into two droplets.[1] In most levels, the mercury's default color is silver. Paint Shops are floating devices that change the color of the mercury once the mercury is under it. Some switches and doors only activate if interacting with mercury of a specific color. 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]

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. The goal of Race levels is to reach the finish pad as fast as possible, 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.[2]

Development and release[edit]

Mercury was developed by Awesome Studios with Archer Maclean as the lead designer for the game. The game was inspired by tilting puzzle games similar to Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. The game was conceived when Archer Maclean used one of the minigames from Jimmy White's Cueball World and implemented a "liquid metal physics" prototype engine. Archer Maclean chose to study the physics of mercury by obtaining a bottle of real mercury taken from barometers. During development, one of the challenges Awesome Studios had was emulating real mercury physics, how the mercury would split and merge.[3] When Awesome Studios was in the play-testing stage of development, the developers noticed potential shortcuts the player can use in the level layouts and adjusted the level design to allow more of them.[4] The game was originally advertised to be released with a tilt sensor peripheral in order to use motion controls, however was unable to be implemented due to cost and technical issues.[5] Archer Maclean chose to release the game on PSP as it could make the game more noticeable for consumers.[4] 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.[6] The game was distributed by Atari for the European version and was released in Europe on September 1, 2005 as a launch title for the PSP.[7][8] A limited edition bundle was released with its sequel, Mercury Meltdown on October 19, 2010.[9]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic75/100[10]
Review scores
PublicationScore
1UP.comB-[11]
Edge8/10[14]
Eurogamer8/10[2]
GameSpot7.8/10[12]
GameSpy3.5/5 stars[18]
GamesTM8/10[17]
IGN7.7/10[13]
PALGN7.5/10[15]
Pocket Gamer3.5/5 stars[16]

Mercury was received well among critics. The game has an aggregated score of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 39 reviews.[10] Common praises for the game was in regards to its level design and physics. Eurogamer writer praised the level designs, calling them "ingenious".[2] IGN was impressed with the number of levels and the variety between the different designs.[13] GameSpot writer, in particular, gave compliments towards the physics of the mercury on how it can be stretched, reassemble and squeeze together."[12] GamesTM gave praise to both the physics and level design of the game, stating, "Mercury's subtle combination of spot-on physics, obvious answers and hidden shortcuts creates a game of continual perfection and frustration alike."[17] GameSpy, however, gave a lukewarm response to the level design, stating the best ones are clever and addicting but the worst ones make the player jump through too many hoops.[18] Pocket Gamer made comparisons to the Lumines series stating, "Lumines is more fun to play, but Mercury is more satisfying to beat."[16]

In regards to the difficulty, the game had mixed reception. GamesTM stated, "If the PSP wasn't so fragile, we'd have thrown it on the floor because of Mercury's difficulty."[17] PALGN made noted the difficulty of the game can scale to "ridiculous levels" but defended it by assuring that it doesn't feel impossible."[15] GameSpot noted that the game wasn't impossible even at its most difficult, however, criticized the difficulty pacing, stating "The game pretty much throws you off the deep end almost immediately after you've completed the idiotically simple tutorial."[12] Edge, however, praised the difficulty, stating, "Mercury exhibits a perfect hierarchy of challenge and reward, the two remaining poised throughout and ultimately growing to the point where they touch and become one. The pain becomes the pleasure because, in spite of the extraordinary degree of trial and, there's never a moment that feels broken or exploitative."[14]

Sequels[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Mercury Meltdown (PSP)
Mercury Meltdown Remix (PS2)
Mercury Meltdown Revolution (Wii)
78/100[19]
73/100[20]
77/100[21]
Mercury Hg (PS3 & Xbox 360) 74/100[22][23]

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.[24] The game was ported to the PlayStation 2 titled Mercury Meltdown Remix and to the Wii called Mercury Meltdown Revolution.[25][26]

A second sequel titled, Mercury Hg, was developed by Eiconic Games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. 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. The game was announced in E3 2011.[27] 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".[28] Ignition Entertainment released the game on September 28, 2011.[29] The game also features ghost racing, the ability to share replays, and Sixaxis tilt controls for the PlayStation 3 version.[30] Two downloadable content (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.[31] The second DLC titled "Rare Earth Elements" was released on November 29, 2011, and contains the same amount of content as the previous.[32] Mercury Hg received an aggregated score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews.[22][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Archer Maclean's Mercury manual (PDF). North America: Ignition Entertainment. April 6, 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tom Bramwell (April 19, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury: We test Awesome Studios' metal". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  3. ^ "Liquid Launch". Edge (Australian Edition). No. 4. Future Publishing. January 2005. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Archer Maclean talks Mercury interview". Eurogamer. August 22, 2006. Archived from the original on July 22, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Tom Orry (June 27, 2006). "Mercury Meltdown Interview". VideoGamer.com. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  6. ^ "Mercury". IGN. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  7. ^ "PSP™(PlayStation®Portable) Launches Today Across Europe". Gameindustry.biz. September 1, 2005. Archived from the original on August 1, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  8. ^ "Mercury rises for Atari". Eurogamer. August 22, 2006. Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "Archer Maclean's Mercury & Mercury Meltdown -- 2 Games in 1!". GameSpy. Archived from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Archer Maclean's Mercury for PSP reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 30, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  11. ^ John Davison (April 24, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury (PSP) Review: The PSP's other twisted metal". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Alex Navarro (May 5, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury review". Gamespot. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Nix (April 4, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury review (Page 3 of 3)". IGN. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Archer Maclean's Mercury Review". Edge. No. 150. Future plc. June 2005. p. 91.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ a b Owain Bennallack (August 25, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury Review". Pocket Gamer. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  17. ^ a b c "Archer Maclean's Mercury - Caution: Highly Addictive if Swallowed". GamesTM. No. 34. June 2005. p. 104. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Christian Nutt (March 31, 2005). "Archer Maclean's Mercury". GameSpy. Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  19. ^ "Mercury Meltdown for PSP reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 26, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  20. ^ "Mercury Meltdown Remix for PlayStation 2 reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 27, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  21. ^ "Mercury Meltdown Revolution for Wii". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 16, 2010. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Mercury Hg for PlayStation 3 reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Mercury Hg for Xbox 360 reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  24. ^ "Pre-E3 2006: Mercury Meltdown". IGN. April 29, 2006. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  25. ^ Jkdmedia (May 4, 2012). "Ignition Entertainment Announces Mercury Meltdown Remix for the Playstation 2". GameZone. Archived from the original on June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  26. ^ Tom Bramwell (January 15, 2007). "Mercury Meltdown Revolution Interview". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  27. ^ "E3 2011: UTV Ignition Games Announces Mercury Meltdown and Mercury Hg". IGN. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  28. ^ "Mercury Hg". Eiconic games. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  29. ^ "Mercury Hg details". IGN. Archived from the original on June 21, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  30. ^ "Before Ignition Licensed Japanese Games They Made Mercury". September 27, 2011. Archived from the original on June 27, 2019. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  31. ^ Victoria Medina (October 19, 2011). "Get your science on with Mercury Hg". Destructoid. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  32. ^ "Mercury Hg: Rare Earth Elements". Metacritic. Archived from the original on January 28, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2019.

External links[edit]