Archer Maclean’s Mercury Review

This review is written from the point of view of the author, with no intent to persuade readers to or away from buying a particular game. This is intended as a guide only.

One of the release games for PSP (in Australia at least), this game has plenty of great moments. A challenging puzzler with an inventive idea (not surprising, considering Archer Maclean’s past efforts). You control a 3D world, which you can rotate by using the analogue nub. A blob of mercury rolls around, with the aim to get a portion the blob from the start to the finish. There are six worlds, each with twelve levels, which makes for quite abit of a challenge. There is also a bonus world (with only 6 levels), which is quite harder than the normal worlds. Even unlocking them is a real challenge. There are five level types, with a mix of them on each world. Race, percentage and task levels are the main ones (three of each for each world), with combo (two) and boss (one) also making an appearance, so there is a variety to keep you from getting bored. There is also a bonus level for each world, which can only be unlocked by getting the high score on every level on that world, quite a challege.

Being a blob, and not a solid object, the mercury can be split up into smaller pieces, squished and stretched. The downside is that small bits of mercury may fall off the platform, resulting in a lower score. There is a minimum amount to mercury needed to activate the finish line, so trying to get the best score is a balancing act between best time and most mercury left. There are objects that the blob can interect with, both good and bad. They can change your colour, transport you to a new area, or squish you to remove some of your precious metal.

All in all, this game takes quite a bit to finish. For the completest there is a high score table, which is exceedingly difficult to top in the later worlds.

Now for the things I would’ve liked in this game. The high score table, while good, is different for every user. That means going between profiles to compare best scores on levels. This isn’t overly bad, just something I would have liked to see implemented (similar to Lumines, with one score table for the game, so you can easily prove your dominance, or lack of). As all PSP owners know, the analogue nub also leaves room for improvement. This is a fault with the system, not the game, but it deserves a mention, especially when it can mean the difference between top score and no score.

Overall, this is an inventive game that makes good use of the PSP’s widescreen and portable nature, with just a few niggles to drag it back. Mainly aimed at the puzzler crowd, this will be overlooked by many as a simple, childs game. It is so much more.

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