|Release date(s)||PlayStation Portable: UMD
(Mercury Meltdown Remix)
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer (2 players)|
Mercury Meltdown is a video game for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. It is the sequel to the 2005 title Archer Maclean's Mercury. Like the first game, the goal is to tilt the lab or the playing area and guide one or more blobs of mercury to the destination.
As in the first game, players tilt a substance known as Mercury around a level. The aim is to guide the mercury to one or more finish posts in the level, similar to Marble Madness.
Each melting Lab is split into 16 initial stages, and each stage is represented by a test-tube. Depending on how well the player has done, the test-tube will gain attributes to show this; the amount of fluid in the tube represents how much mercury has been saved, and a cork is added when all of it is saved. A star sticker indicates that the player has collected all the 'Bonus Stars' in the level. A '1' sticker indicates that the player has his/her name in first place. Once all three attributes are achieved, the normal cork is replaced with a golden one. If players do exceptionally well in one melting Lab in particular, they may unlock a secret 17th stage.
During the melting lab levels, faces represent one's current progress, and they replace the time clock during play to display what has happened.
The main change in the game is the ability to change the mercury into 3 more states. Using a heater will turn the mercury into the 'Heat' state, a fine and easily splittable liquid that travels quickly. Using a cooler, the mercury will change into the 'Cold' state, a thick and hard to split semi-solid that travels slowly. Finally, using a solidifier will turn the mercury into a 'Solid' state, a round unbreakable ball which can be used to traverse rails.
The mercury can still be split (apart from the Solid state), and sometimes it is still a requirement. Splitting is normally done using a Splitter (a sharp triangle-shape built into walls), but it can also be done using sharp corners, or sitting underneath a Guillotine or Pile Driver.
Colors still play a part in the game. The color of the mercury can be changed using a Paintshop. When two differently-colored blobs merge into one, the colors mix as well. The color scheme is based on the RGB color model, where the primary colors are red, green and blue. New to Mercury Meltdown are 3-Color Paintshops, which are triangular Paintshops with different colored gates on each side, and a new color-mixing chart in the top right corner, which can be turned off in the options menu.
Hazards will try to destroy the mercury. Some of these include the Jacob's Ladder (an electrical generator, capable of zapping the mercury), Pendulums, Attractors and Repulsors, LubeCubes (gelatin cubes that leave behind acid trails wherever they go), Mercoids (creatures that eat mercury) and their relatives Jerkoids (zaps mercury with lightning like the Jacob's Ladder), Spectroids (Mercoids that only eat a specific color) and Schizzoids (explodes on impact with mercury).
The Tutorial mode is now separate from the main game, as well as a new feature known as the Playground. The Playground puts the player into a circular V.R. arena, with most of the items found in the game to play and test around with.
In addition to the main game, there are now five party games, which are unlocked by collecting the bonus stars in the main game. All the party games can be played in multiplayer over Wi-Fi.
- Rodeo - Tilt the playing area to stop the mercury from falling off. A fan constantly tries to blow the blob off.
- Race - Race mercury around a track, hitting boost pads on the way, trying to avoid falling off.
- Metrix - A puzzle game requiring one to make a group of three or more colored blobs that fits inside a pre-defined grid. When three or more blobs of the same color touch each other, they disappear and the player earns points. The goal is to earn enough points to win before time runs out.
- Shove - Aim the mercury for the center spot of a target, avoiding hazards; similar to Curling.
- Paint - Move the mercury to paint the tray in the player's colour before the opponent does.
Instead of sticking with the previous style of graphics in the original game, the team at Ignition Banbury decided to go for a more cartoon style in Mercury Meltdown. This has earned a bit of criticism from some fans of the first game, since it does not look as realistic as its predecessor; for instance, the mercury now has a black line around the outside of it, which was added to make it clearer. Unlockable 'skins' for the mercury are also available in this game, such as a billiard ball, a football, a basketball, and a marker indicating the speed limit of the mercury. Some of these skins change depending on the state of the mercury.
These skins are unlocked by getting the "perfect" status on enough levels (see About the Melting Labs) and can be selected in the options menu.
The first game was released to a tight schedule, in time for the US launch of the PlayStation Portable, and so the game wasn't as refined as it could be. This time around, the game has had a number of various improvements to the core game to rectify the problems, as well as extras taken from feedback of the first game.
As well as a new progression system (see Difficulty), the levels are specifically designed to minimize as many camera problems as possible. Mercury Meltdown has also been upgraded in terms of levels, offering a total of 168 levels, compared to the 83 in the original game.
In terms of extras, the game now supports the ability to save both ghosts and replays, but high scores can not be carried over by different players and there is no online leader board, rendering the feature useless. Ghosts can also be saved for the Race party game. Also the game takes use of the unique features of the PlayStation Portable by implementing game sharing, and promising downloadable content, although what the content may be has neither appeared nor been announced as of late July 2007.
One of the major criticisms of the first game was the difficulty slope that players faced. The progression was very linear, and as such, being stuck on a level meant the player could not progress any further, prompting some players to give up on completion. To rectify this, the progression system was tweaked. All stages in a lab are now accessible when the lab is unlocked, meaning players can decide to try another stage to progress.
The time limit has also been scrapped from the game, but a set amount of time still remains, and has to be beaten to stand a chance of earning the top score on that stage. When the time has run out, the clock face turns into a sad face, yet the player can still carry on with the task at hand.
Also, mercury limits are mostly scrapped from the game, but 100% mercury is now one of the requirements to progress to the later stages of the game. Limits only apply when at least one weighted switch is present in the level, and disappear when the weighted switch(s) are activated.
The stages are designed to be as difficult as the ones in the first game. This provided gamers who managed to get far in the first game with a decent challenge.
Mercury Meltdown has received generally favorable reviews from Metacritic with a score of 78 as of December 29, 2008.