Mercury Meltdown started out as PlayStation Portable with the promise that the system would have some sort of "tilt" aspect to the system. But when none surfaced, the developers had to make due with the analog stick on the system. It wasn't a bad compromise as the game turned out to be a clever variation of the Marble Madness/Monkey Ball concept that had some wicked hard and challenging level designs. But it would have been far cooler (not to mention much more intuitive) if you could simply tip and sway the system to get that little blob of liquid metal to move. It just made sense.
Last year, Ignition updated the Mercury Meltdown game with a sequel on the PlayStation 2. Same gameplay but with a much more animated appearance. The PlayStation 2's Dual Shock controller did a fine job of reproducing the PlayStation Portable's analog control, but that whole "tilt" thing wasn't even in the equation since the PS2 system doesn't even have that function.
That's where the Wii's stepping in. The development team's taken the PlayStation 2 project with its hundreds of levels, five mini-games, and its updated toon-shaded visuals, and put it on the Nintendo console. In the move, however, we get what the original game was meant to have: motion control. Yes, not surprisingly, the game design takes full advantage of the Wii remote's tilt functionality, and the Mercury Meltdown product has come full-circle at last.
The "rolling ball" style of gameplay isn't anything new to the Wii console. After all, two games in the genre, Super Monkey Ball and Kororinpa have been released on the system in just four months of the system's life, with more likely on the way. Mercury Meltdown Revolution has a huge difference that sets itself apart: instead of rolling a ball around, you're sliding a glob of mercury. So while you might have a similar sense of motion that you would with a round sphere, you have to deal with the fact that mercury is actually a liquid at room temperature. As a result, you can break the glob apart into multiples or combine multiples back into a singular glob. You can also accidentally get smaller if you lose droplets of mercury by sliding a bit off the edge. It's a lot more challenging than it looks.
And the level designers really put this "liquid metal" property to use. In many challenges, it's not just about getting from the start of a level to the finish, it's triggering elements that will let you get there. You'll have to break your blob apart and turn them different colors via specific machines to activate same-color switches. Red blobs can trigger red switches and slide through red wall, for example. To add a bit more complexity into the mix, you'll literally have to blend your blob all sorts of colors to get certain hues, like purple. Luckily the game displays a color wheel at the top of the screen so you'll know which primary colors to blend in order to get the proper color. The are other challenges, like sloping angles that can drain your mercury if you get too close to the edge, as well as weighted teeter-totters, teleporters, warp zones, and, of course wandering hazards that can slow your progress. Try to get to the goal under the time limit and with as much mercury as you can. But if you don't hit the quota, don't worry -- as long as you make it with even a tiny globule of mercury you can move on.
As you get through the different challenges, you'll slowly unlock extras, such as the mini-games. These games are for single player exclusively, but they're all solid designs that do a great job encouraging players to get through the main level progression. There's a game where you'll race around tracks a la F-Zero, challenging players to try and keep their blob on the roadways as the track skews and curves. There's a version of Curling where you'll ricochet your blob towards a target, trying to score as many points as you can by coming as close to the centerpoint as possible. And for puzzle fans, there's a unique design where you have to dollop three blobs in a certain fashion and arrange that grouping on a grid that'll form three like colors, which will then disappear.
The Wii remote does an excellent job giving players control over the blob. Unlike Super Monkey Ball where you hold the remote vertically, in Mercury Meltdown Revolution you have to hold the remote in the much more intuitive, horizontal "classic" position. The game recognizes ever so subtle motions and translates them appropriately on-screen. It feels much nicer than trying to manipulate the world via a spring-loaded analog stick, no question.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution is, essentially, a conversion of the PlayStation 2 game release from last year, but it has enough original elements to make the game its own version. Aside from the very welcome tilt controls, the game's visuals have more texture work than the PS2 version, and will support both 480p as well as the Wii's widescreen function. There are also thirty brand new levels in the Wii game. So even if you've played these challenges in their portable or PS2 form, there's still something new to experience.