18th October 2005
reviewer: Rich
rating: 3 out of 5
developed by: Awesome Studios
published by: Ignition Entertainment
released: 1st September 2005
rrp: £34.99
formats: PSP

Archer MacLeanís Mercury is a puzzle game for the PSP, currently playing second fiddle to Lumines. Itís a quirky and original game which reminds me of Sonic Teamís Super Monkey Ball or Marble Madness more than anything else.

You are in charge of the destiny of a blob of mercury; you must stay still all the time to win. Nah, I lied, you have to navigate your way around some rather interesting and taxing mazes/courses. Moving your mercury from the start, to finish without losing more than a pre set percentage of your mass.

The game feels very nice, in terms of the mercury moves realistically around the maze, dripping over the edge or slipping out of your control in a way in which youíd expect from a liquid metal. This is essential in game starring such a thing, in my humble opinion; also essential are suitably interesting puzzles to crack. Splitting your mercury into multiple pieces and traversing multiple parts of the maze at once is simply something you canít do if your game stars a monkey or a marble (to the best of my knowledge). Another nice mechanic is being able to use parts of the levels to change your mercuryís colour and activate switches etc. The levels are taxing enough that no one will get them all first time; which is a very good thing for this game, as loading new levels takes way too long, especially when you have twigged a puzzle instantly and cracked the level in less time than loading the next one. This is certainly something that I have noticed with early PSP games, but will hopefully become less of an issue as developers get to grips with the hardware.

All in all Mercury is very good puzzle game that rightly sits in the shadow of the brilliant Lumines. It is original and highly enjoyable, but not without flaws; thankfully nothing stops this from being considered worth playing, especially on the move, where the kind of pace and stop/start nature of the game suit less that perfect gaming conditions.

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