Moving a mercury blob around a maze full of obstacles doesn’t sound like the most enthralling videogame in the world, but that didn’t stop the puzzle game, Mercury Meltdown, being a hit on PSP earlier this year. An enhanced version of the game, Mercury Meltdown Remix, has now arrived on PS2 and boasts over 200 levels and some laboratories that are exclusive to the platform.
Mercury Meltdown Remix involves navigating a liquid blob of mercury through a number of tricky mazes that increase in difficulty as you progress through the levels. The idea is to tilt the playing area - remember that old-fashioned wooden labyrinth game? - using the left thumb-stick to manoeuvre the blob over and through a variety of obstacles that block your path to the finishing pad. It’s a simple premise, but the developers, Ignition Entertainment, have cleverly designed the mazes to ensure that you need to use a logical approach to complete each level. The game is extremely challenging, both on a mental level and due to fact that you need to have an extremely steady hand, and the mixture of inventive hazards, the spontaneous movements of the blob and the excellent puzzle elements make it an addictive test of logic and skill.
The developers tell us that Mercury Meltdown Remix features ‘state of the art’ blob physics. As our knowledge of blobs in videogames is extremely limited we have nothing to compare this to, but we’re not going to argue. The blob reacts naturally to any obstacles in its path; squeezing through narrow doorways, breaking up into smaller blobs if you hit a sharp corner and reacting to the various states (fast, slow and solid) that it encounters. At the beginning of each course you begin with a full, silver coloured blob of mercury and by using logic and a steady hand, you’ll need to get as much of the blob as possible to the finish line. Each level has a set time limit and if you complete the maze before the timer reaches zero you’ll receive bonus points. Along the way you can pick up bonuses, which are normally tucked away in a hard-to-reach area, meaning that you’ll need a lot of patience and the non-fluctuating hand of a surgeon in order to reach them.
The slightest touch of the blob on any object can result in it splitting into smaller blobs and because you’re tilting the maze rather than controlling the actual blobs themselves you’ll need to be even more careful with the controls to ensure parts of the substance don’t fall off the edge of the maze. The mercury gauge shows the percentage of mercury left on the level and if you manage to lose too much on the journey then you’ll fail the challenge. The more of the blob you can get to the finishing line, the more points you’ll receive.