|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. The aim is to guide the mercury to one or more finish posts in the level. This aim is to guide the mercury to tilt the lab or the level.
The main change in the game is the ability to now change the mercury into 3 more states. As well as the normal state, using a heater will turn the mercury into the 'Heat' state, (Lab is Hot), a fine and easily splittable liquid. Using a cooler, the mercury will change into the 'Cold' state, (Lab is Frozen), a thick and hard to split semi-solid. Finally, using a solidifier will turn the mercury into a 'Solid' state, (Lab is Expanded like the Ball), a round non-breakable ball, which can be used to traverse rails.
The mercury is still splittable (apart from the Solid state), and it is still a requirement in order to complete some levels. 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, and so a new color chart is implemented in the top right corner to help with mixing colors. It can be turned off in the options menu. Mercury colors are changed by mixing two together, or using a Paintshop to color the lab and mercury, such as Red, Blue, Green, Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta. New to Mercury Meltdown are 3-Color Paintshops, triangular, pyramid CHESSE shaped objects with a different colored gates on each side.
Hazards will try to destroy the lab or mercury, some of these include the Jacob's Ladder (an electrical generator, capable of zapping one's 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 Light Bow), Spectroids (Mercoids that only eat a specific color) and Schizzoids (explodes on impact with mercury). Each melting Lab is split into 16 initial stages, and each stage is represented by a test-tube, but if players do exceptionally well in one melting Lab in particular, they may unlock a secret 17th stage. 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. 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 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 knock the player 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 colored blocks to fit inside a pre-defined grid to earn enough points to win before time runs out.
- Shove - The equivalent of 'curling', aim the mercury for the center spot of the target, but avoid hazards.
- Paint - Move the mercury to paint the tray as much as possible against one's opponent.
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 means the player could not progress any further, prompting some players to give up on completion. To rectify this, the progression system has been 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 also, however 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, if not more difficult than the first game, which provide 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.