Mercury Hg Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
When I was younger, there was a game known as Marble Madness that would keep me glued to the television screen for hours on end, guiding a little silver ball through treacherous mazes filled with pitfalls, barriers, puddles of acid, and more. The game was just as much of a frustration as it was a source of entertainment that’s worth reminiscing about even almost 30 years later.
UTV Ignition Games has managed to recapture this irritating yet exhilarating appeal in their creation of a new spin on an old classic with Mercury Hg. Mercury Hg is a game where you must not only pass through a series of levels with obstructions, switches, and other hazards, but it also includes a couple of additional twists. As the name implies, you are guiding a ball of Mercury through mazes filled various obstacles; however, unlike its 1980’s counterpart, you control the ball by tilting the entire level instead of moving the ball itself.
The levels are divided into groups loosely following the chart of the Periodic Table of Elements; the game begins with Hydrogen, then works through the Alkali metals, onto the Transition Metals, over to Post Transitions, and so forth, with each group becoming more complex than the previous. As you maneuver through these wall-less mazes, you must take care to stay away from the edges, as a slip – although not necessarily fatal – will leave you teetering on the edge, consequently shedding part of the shiny globule to the depths below. Gameplay becomes more frantic as you progress through the game, with additional traps such as moving walls that threaten to push you over the edge, gravity wells that can push or pull you off course, and much, much more.
While a steady hand for control is a necessity in Mercury Hg, paying attention to color is equally important. As you roll along, certain areas will be inaccessible until you illuminate switch panels of a particular color. Color lamps that can shift the color of your Mercury are found throughout these levels. In some cases, you will need to split your metallic sphere (introducing an engaging complexity by requiring you to control several globs of Mercury simultaneously) in order to get multiple colors and mix them together to create a new one; doing so will ultimately allow you to trip a switch or cross the finish line. Furthermore, different colored floors are only accessible if your Mercury is a like color. So if the floor is red, you will need to find a red lamp in order to change the color of the Mercury, thus allowing you to traverse that section.
To add to the challenge, you can opt for the use of the Six Axis control to tilt the table instead of using the analog stick. While you can more finely meter your movements by tilting the controller itself, the challenge comes into play when the game’s pace picks up. In these sometimes seemingly no-win situations, over-exaggerated movements can quickly mean your demise as you careen off the side, while tardy responses will get you caught up in one of the many traps lying in wait.
Each level has four objectives to complete: Mercury, Time, Bonuses, and Completion. Each objective grants you points towards unlocking other groups on the Periodic Table for even more levels to play. The Mercury objective gives you points for making it to the finish line with all of your Mercury intact, while Time grants you points for completing a level under the par time. The Bonus objective will gift you points for collecting a set number of bonus “molecules” that can be found throughout each level, and, as the name implies, the Completion objective rewards you for simply completing a level.
Graphically, the game is relatively simplistic in nature; however, it is in its simplicity that you find the beauty of the game. Your little wayward puddle of liquid metal shifts in hues of red, blue, green, and yellow as you pass under different color lamps enabling you to illuminate similarly colored switches; floor panels rotate and shift colors as you get closer to them; and, in some cases, the entire level will move to the beat of the music that you’re listening to, as though you’re riding your very own three-dimensional graphic equalizer.
Music plays a large role in Mercury Hg as well. Colors pulse to the beats of songs, bringing energy to the gameplay experience both visually and audibly. Songs range from the mystical to the upbeat. However, while the tunes are highly enjoyable, the limited number can make the playlist feel repetitive over time, especially if you’re marathon gaming. Thankfully, if you get tired of the narrow selection, you do have the ability to select your own playlist and load them into the game.
Mercury Hg is a highly challenging game with tons of variety in each level, which – in terms of price and replay-ability – makes it a great-value game for PS3 (or Xbox 360). Aside from the repetitive music, the only gripe that I would add is that the camera controls seem to reset with every level, tossing your own customizations in favor of the default. This game revisits an old formula that still satisfies to this day. If you’re looking for a new, arcade-style platformer to give you hours of enjoyment, Mercury Hg should be at the top of your list.
Mercury Hg receives a 4.5/5.0.
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