Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Mercury Meltdown Remix

This intriguing puzzle title mixes elements of Marble Madness with a clever physics engine to create a deceptively addictive experience. In Mercury Meltdown Remix, you control a mass of mercury and your object is to guide it through each level until you reach the end. It's not as simple as that, since you'll have to avoid traps, use gadgets to mix colors and other tasks while trying not to fall of the edge of each level's board. It sounds simple on paper, but the real challenge comes in mastering the physics behind the blob and figuring out how to perform each level's tasks. Read on and find out why this brain-bending title offers plenty of challenge throughout and which makes for an addictive game.

At first glance, you'd probably think that Mercury Meltdown Remix is a simplistic game better suited for the casual gamer crowd. While the basic objectives are fairly straightforward, go under the surface impressions and you'll discover a surprisingly complex game that offers a series of remarkably elaborate, occasionally vexing puzzles. The game is set in a series of elaborate 3D levels, which are referred to as labs. These contain a self contained board that you have to finish. During the game, you move the blob around using the dual shock buttons, and can change the viewing angle and zoom level easily as well.  Before each round, you can select which lab you want to play in, from any available. This non-linear progression makes Meltdown more enjoyable since it allows you to skip around to different areas without getting trapped or stuck on a certain level. You begin at one end of the board and must navigate through a series of mazes filled with traps, color changing devices, and dangerous sections in order to reach the finish line. In order to move the Mercury blob, you tilt the board in different directions, which causes the blob to ooze in that direction. However, there's danger at every step of the way. It's easy to get the blobs moving, but If you create too much momentum moving the blob, the blob usually goes too far and falls off the side of the board. It's more complicated than that since you can lose a portion of your blob and still keep going - though you need to be careful how much you lose. While the simple puzzle mechanics are challenging enough, Mercury Meltdown adds more complexity.

As you traverse through each level, you'll encounter a variety of objects and traps. Some of these are helpful, such as conveyor belts, while others are harmful, such as spikes that will cut your blob apart. In addition, you have what are called Sprayers, which will change the color of your blob. This is a significant addition to the series and adds another layer of strategy to the gameply. It's important to know when to mix your colors because there are certain gates or doors which you can only pass through when your blob is the same color. Fortunately, the color mixing system itself is fairly easy to understand, but the process can be challenging, especially when the clock starts to get low. Adding to the complexity of this play mechanic is the fact that you sometimes need to mix colors in order to match. At first, you probably think this is simply a task of running over the mixers, but it's more interesting. In order to mix colors, you first have to split the blob apart, move each section to the appropriate mixer and then re-combine them. It makes the game that much more interesting and challenging. In addition to the sprayers, you'll also have to avoid objects that will push your blob into another section, spikers which can cut off a section of your blob and other traps that will destroy your blob instantly. Each level also includes a number of bonus objects that add points to your score, and other items that can be used to increase your speed or unlock doors. Add to this the fact that you need to complete each level before the timer runs out and cross the checkpoint with a certain percentage of your blob intact. While the initial levels are fairly simple, the later stages add complexity, with numerous tasks to complete and increasingly elaborate layouts making for some truly challenging puzzles.

One of the more interesting aspects that Mercury Meltdown brings to the puzzle genre is the physics engine. It sounds like something incredibly complex, but the realistic way the blobs move makes the game more interesting and challenging. The game's elemental blobs are dynamic and they react to your motions and move in true liquid form, which makes the gameplay feel substantial. There's a great deal of subtlety and nuance involved in the movement of these blobs, which takes some practice to get the hang of. However, once you've gotten the movements down, you can focus on the gameplay which offers a series of seemingly endless challenges. There are more than 200 levels included in the game, each one offers a unique take and task to complete. As you progress through the game, you'll encounter new objects and level maps, which keeps your interest level high throughout. Also helping keep things compelling are the game's bright, vivid graphics which fill the screen along with an upbeat techno soundtrack. The levels are rendered in bright primary colors, which makes for an accessible appearance, making it easy to discern what's happening. While there are some areas that seem a little bit too complicated at first, using the zoom and rotation controls usually helps things out a lot. The level progression is fairly straightforward, but the gameplay never loses its essence. It's definitely one of those games with a straightforward premise that keeps you interested with a solid play mechanics and ingenious implementation. Mercury Meltdown Remix is filled with deceptively challenging puzzles, tons of levels and impressive physics that combine to make it an addictive and enjoyable game.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B-

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