IGN Review of Mercury: Meltdown Revolution
There are a ton of games on Wii that look, play, and feel like budget titles. Oddly enough, however, these games are riding the Nintendo bandwagon of success, and rather than giving gamers a discounted price for a smaller package, they instead kick the price up to $49.99, or instead claim "budget" status with a $39.99 price tag attached to their product. We've said it time and time again that Wii games need to be priced accordingly, and Nintendo is setting the example with the Wii Sports pack-in at launch, Wii Play's controller bundle, and the upcoming Link's Crossbow Training that'll come backed with the zapper peripheral for a cool $20. It's taken nearly a year, but we've finally found a publisher/developer combo that got the point, as Mercury Meltdown Revolution is exactly what it claims to be: a budget game at a budget price.
Mercury got its start on PSP back in 2005 as a throwback title to games like Marble Madness, or in a more current sense, SEGA's Monkey Ball franchise. Players control a globule of mercury, navigating it through gates and color-changing spray systems to solve puzzles and ultimately get to the goal. Along the way you'll be able to heat or cool your ball of goo, allowing it to form up into a more controllable ball when frozen, or morph around more intricate paths in its gooey heated state. Team that with tons of ramps, anti-gravity mazes, launchpads, and a while color-mixing system that requires you to split your mercury and pray different chunks different colors and you've got a game that mixes not only new tilt control and precision, but puzzling, speed, and good ol fashioned arcade action.
Since the game got its start on PSP and then later moved to PS2, there isn't a ton of stress put on the graphical style. It'll only take a few seconds to see that Mercury isn't much of a looker, but that it instead embraces a conservative art budget, instead backing on a splashy 80's Uniracers-like style to remain somewhat visually stimulating. It's still basic though, and veterans of the PSP version will instantly see that Sony's pocket rendition outplays Revolution's graphical achievements simply due to the smaller, crisper screen.
For gameplay purists though, Mercury Meltdown Revolution will be well worth the $20 price point. Tilt control is something gamers have wanted for this series for a longtime coming, and it fits seamlessly. What once was merely an analog-controlled Marble Madness clone now feels far more immersive, as it'll take some seriously precise tilt controls to navigate the mazes. The entire game is played NES style with a solo Wii-mote, and all along the way on-screen indications will tell you exactly where your controller is tilted, and when it's centered up at the beginning of a level. The more you tilt the world, the more you'll gain speed. Entirely simple, but undeniably fun.
As for the overall content, it's a bit basic, but it should keep the average gamer busy for at least ten or so hours, depending on how competitive they get with scores and level bonuses. The game includes over 150 levels, though PSP owners should take note that this is still essentially Mercury Meltdown, so you won't be getting an entirely fresh experience. To add to the depth though you've got multiple profiles for progression, ghost saves for replays, and some multiplayer mini-games that work with some fun concepts. As you progress through the game you'll find hard-to-reach "Bonus" items, each of which will fill an unlock vial on the main interface. Each time one of these vials is full, you'll gain access to new content.
The party games are a nice touch, and add a bit more replay value to the package. In Rodeo you'll need to stay atop an undulating surface for as long as possible, turning and tilting to stay atop a world before being thrown off. Paint is a "gain ground" mini-game that has each player leaving a trail of color behind them, while the classic Race mini-game acts like a much more simplified version of something like Monkey Race (Monkey Ball). To round off the package you've got the shuffleboard Shove mini-game, and the puzzler Metrix. Each of the mini-games add a bit of depth to the product that would otherwise be entirely based on tilting goo, and while none of them are amazingly deep (Shove and Race are great for multiplayer though) they at least build up the package a bit more. As a final note, the game runs in 480p and 16:9 (doesn't fill the screen all the way), and also supports the classic controller if tilt gaming isn't your thing.
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