Developer: Awesome Studios
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation Portable
Genre: Puzzle platformer
Players: One player only
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.