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Title: Mercury
Developer: Awesome Studios
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Year: 2005
Platforms: PlayStation Portable
Genre: Puzzle platformer
Players: One player only
Rating: 5/5
Summary: Pretty and fun, although frustrating at times.

Mercury is a fairly simple puzzle game for the Playstation Portable. Being a fan of the genre many years ago, I decided to try it out. Many people have noted its similarities to Marble Madness, but I found it to have even more in common with Scarabeus (also known as Pyramids of Ra, and cloned as Sensitive) and Sokoban (also known as Boxxle), requiring you to combine your puzzle solving skills and your hand-to-eye co-ordination.

Comparing Mercury to games of the eighties doesn't do it justice, of course. The levels are simple by zeros standards, meaning that the PSP has more than enough processing power to render beautiful worlds. The titular mercury itself not only looks great - which it really does - but also moves with amazing realism, be it a big blob with enough surface tension to mostly stick together, or a series of smaller, faster blobs that fall off all too easily.

The ambient soundtrack is also more professional and varied than previous technology allowed, consisting of a staggering number of short, looped pieces of music spanning pretty much the full range of modern electronic music.

I'm convinced Mercury is too complex, with a large array of different things to encounter and even different goals for different levels. For instance, quite why some levels have chequered tiles for goals and others have pressure-sensitive lampposts that essentially achieve the same thing is beyond me. Nevertheless, if you can look past the intimidating instructions of the tutorial, most levels are fairly straightforward after one or two attempts.

Overal, Mercury seems as if its designers weren't sure exactly which direction they wanted to take it in, and as a result it ended up being several slightly different games in one. Still, each of its gameplay types is fun and addictive. As much as I suspect Mercury's concept can be improved and refined, it's already a joy to play, and it's as pretty as it is fun. I'd recommend it to all puzzle game fans and casual gamers.