Reviewed: November 13, 2011
Released: September 28, 2011
There was a spark of familiarity as I sat down and started playing Mercury Hg and then it hit me. This was essentially the same game I played in 2005 and again in 2006 when similar titles released on the PSP. The only question I guess I really have it “why did it take so long?” The premise of maneuvering a silvery blob of mercury around elevated tile mazes, solving puzzles and racing to get the best completion time was pretty solid six years ago and it works just as well today, perhaps even better on the big screen.|
Mercury Hg presents you with 60 increasingly challenging levels, not unlike that timeless arcade classic, Marble Madness, but in a unique twist of concept, in Mercury Hg you are actually tipping and tilting the levels, which in turn cause the liquid mass of mercury to move in the desired direction. With 20 bonus elements and 10 challenges, plus the endless quest of beating your previous time or the times of your friends on the leaderboards, this is one game that can keep you hopelessly addicted for quite some time.
Mercury Hg rewards those with patience and a deft touch when it comes to finessing the analog sticks to get your mercury moving in the right direction at the right speed. Too fast and you’ll spill precious drops off the edge of a platform; too slow and you won’t complete the level in the required time. Most levels have time and quantity requirements that force you to balance speed and caution.
And then the game starts throwing in puzzles that will force you to divide your main blob into one or more smaller blobs, often taking different routes or even using color pads to change the color of your mercury so you can pass through color-coded gates or even combine primary colors into secondary ones. Hope you remember your color wheel combinations from grade school.
Visually, the game is pretty basic with simple textures and primary color use, but it looks good at what it does. The mercury looks and behaves like real mercury with great fluid dynamics and that sticky attraction to rejoin split blobs. The playing field makes clever use of the Periodic Table, at least as a visual reference, and the 3D camera works extremely well. The audio is a mix of fairly simple sound effects that fit with the gameplay and a range of in-game music that is actually quite enjoyable in an upbeat, techno-trance kind of way. You can even plug in your own playlist if you have music stored on your Xbox HD.
The one thing I enjoyed most about Mercury Hg is the way they handle the completion goals. Each level has four goals, but it is highly unlikely, perhaps even impossible, to get all four in a single pass, but goals will stack, so you can keep replaying the levels trying to complete any missing objectives. It definitely provides an addictive incentive to replay this game a lot more than you would otherwise.
In addition to the main Discovery mode you can also compete for times in Ghost mode or tackle the levels in the Challenge and Bonus modes where you are often required to complete the level with 100% of your mercury. There is plenty of content that easily makes this worth the $5 initial purchase and with the promise of more DLC and some that is already available; Mercury Hg is one of the better XBLA purchases this holiday season.