Mercury Meltdown Revolution Review
|Publisher:||Ignition Entertainment / Atari|
|Release Date:||June 8th, 2007 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||James Barlow (Malis)|
Puzzle titles are perhaps the hardest of all game genres to create. Offering little in the way of plot or emotional involvement, these mind-bending games must rely on their wit and charm alone. While it's relatively simple to churn out a generic RTS or bland FPS, get a puzzle title wrong and your audience won't hang around for the story.
So it's a good job that Ignition's Mercury Meltdown Revolution gets the majority of things very right. Burdened with producing a Wii title that's not another simple and derogatory mini-game cash cow, developers Ignition have produced a title that takes advantage of the Wii's controls in a mature and pleasing fashion - proving that with a little thought the Wii can offer considerable depth over other control mediums.
As the title suggests, the focus of the game is mercury, a metal element that is liquid at room temperature. The task of the player is to guide and navigate as much of their ball of quicksilver as possible to the goal flag of each level - but of course the task is rarely as simple as it sounds. Along the course of the 150+ levels on offer you can expect to be melted, cooled, solidified, blasted, shredded, painted, sliced, bashed...and well, the list goes on. If you can imagine some fiendish method of destroying a poor innocent lump of flowing metal, chances are it's in the game.
Of course, the central focus of the game is the Wii's control scheme. Holding the Wii remote with two hands, players guide their mercury by tilting the remote - which in turn tilts the level you're playing. It's perfectly implemented, and feels utterly natural. Guiding your slippery charge around each course requires skill and focus, but is always accessible and rewarding. There is a generous option to use the classic controller if you're not a fan, but to do so would be to miss the main point of Mercury Meltdown Revolution.
Whatever your control choice it's unlikely you'll miss the garish art style splattered all over the game. Taking it's cue from graffiti and comic designs, the graphics are of a cartoonish cel-shaded nature that you'll either love or hate. Some may find it childish, while others may feel it suits the crazy and vibrant pulse of the game. Regardless of whether you love it or loathe it, it's pulled off well, with clear bold shapes and no slowdown on the most crowded of levels.
Although levels start of simple and small, it's not long before they develop it frustratingly complex and towering monstrosities. You'll have to put some had work - both mental and physical - to complete later worlds. With over 150 levels, there's plenty to do and tear your hair out over. The levels are grouped into worlds - labs - that you unlock as you save more mercury in each level. Within these worlds you're free to attempt to the levels in any order, and you never have to complete all the levels to progress onto further worlds. This ensures that if you get stuck at one frustrating level it's not game over.
As you play you'll unlock bonuses in each level - when enough of these are collected (often placed in difficult to reach areas) you'll unlock extras, usually extra skins for your mercury or party games. Party games are mini-games that give your mercury a break from navigating hazards, and allow them to partake in events like racing or rodeo (stay on a tilting ledge as long as possible). While they're welcome diversions, the party games are not deep enough or entertaining enough to play for long. Although they're called party games, there's no multi-player support, in fact the entire game is single-player. For a game like this it's a real missed opportunity, some of the levels or ideas presented in the game would translate well to a competitive environment.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution is indeed a game best enjoyed in private - spectators will likely wince at the eclectic music which is at times strange and repetitive, with an often jarring quality. An option to run soothing MP3s off an SD card, like Excite Truck, would have been a most welcome addition. Once your properly absorbed by the game though, chances are you won't even register the music. It's easy to obsess over finishing a level, and realise hours have flown by as you try and save that last drop of mercury.
The types of puzzles on offer include splitting your mercury in two and controlling them both at once, mixing colours to open doors, traversing spikes and icy platforms, and bouncing over dangerous pits. Combine them all and thrown in a dash of gravity manipulation and you get some idea of how difficult layer levels become. There's a 100% rating for each level that is achieved by getting all bonuses, a top score, and saving all the mercury. Combine this with the sheer volume of levels and it's clear you'll be playing Mercury Meltdown Revolution for some time. What's also impressive is the physics behind your silver hero - whether it's flowing over slick surfaces or dripping off edges, your ball of mercury behaves in a realistic and challenging way that allows for subtle movements and offers depth to the puzzles.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution is an admirable and polished puzzle title for the fledgling Wii. Offering a wealth of mind-taxing levels that are frustratingly fun, this is a game that puzzle fans won't want to miss - though admittedly the more action orientated amongst us might want to steer clear. A near perfect example of how to marry the Wii's controls to solid game design, I hope this isn't the last we see of Ignition on the Wii.
- Great use of Wii controls
- Genuinely taxing puzzles
- Impressive and fun use of physics
- Addictive in later levels
Not so good stuff
- Marmite graphical style
- Music can be annoying at times
- No multi-player support