Archer Maclean's Mercury
|Archer Maclean's Mercury|
North American boxart
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Development and release
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. 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. 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. Archer Maclean chose to release the game on PSP as it could make the game more noticeable for consumers. 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. Mercury was published by Ignition Entertainment and released in North America on April 6, 2005. 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. A limited edition bundle was released with its sequel, Mercury Meltdown on October 19, 2010.
Mercury was received well among critics. The game has an aggregated score of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 39 reviews. Common praises for the game was in regards to its level design and physics. Eurogamer writer praised the level designs, calling them "ingenious". IGN was impressed with the number of levels and the variety between the different designs. GameSpot writer, in particular, gave compliments towards the physics of the mercury on how it can be stretched, reassemble and squeeze together." 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." 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. Pocket Gamer made comparisons to the Lumines series stating, "Lumines is more fun to play, but Mercury is more satisfying to beat."
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." PALGN made noted the difficulty of the game can scale to "ridiculous levels" but defended it by assuring that it doesn't feel impossible." 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." 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."
|Mercury Meltdown (PSP)
Mercury Meltdown Remix (PS2)
Mercury Meltdown Revolution (Wii)
|Mercury Hg (PS3 & Xbox 360)||74/100|
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. 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. 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. 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". Ignition Entertainment released the game on September 28, 2011. The game also features ghost racing, the ability to share replays, and Sixaxis tilt controls for the PlayStation 3 version. 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. The second DLC titled "Rare Earth Elements" was released on November 29, 2011, and contains the same amount of content as the previous. Mercury Hg received an aggregated score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews.
- 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)
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