Mercury Hg is the latest in the Mercury series of puzzle games, and the first time the series has seen a release on the Xbox 360. The concept is simple in theory – tilt the landscape to guide a blob of mercury to the finish line while losing as little mass as possible. Of course, things are never quite that simple in practice, and Mercury Hg has got a wide variety of challenges and obstacles up its sleeve.
Obstacles start off as simply as a moving platform, but as you progress through the 60 levels that comprise the game’s main mode (Discovery Mode), you’ll start to encounter more devious challenges. Most levels involve using a spray station of sorts to change the color of your mercury ball in order to activate a switch, pass through a barrier, or cross the finish line. In some, more complex levels, you must split your mercury ball in half using a wedge, guide both halves into different colored spray stations, then guide them back together to change into yet another color.
The game’s difficulty curve is pretty consistent overall, but the later levels really pile it on pretty heavily with obstacles like floors that materialize as you move, slippery surfaces, pulsing landscapes and split paths. It’s certainly not an unfair challenge, but should you find yourself stuck on a particular level, the game allows you to simply skip past it and come back later.
In addition to the Discovery Mode, you’ll unlock Bonus levels and Challenge levels as you play, and they differ from the main levels in a few ways. In a Bonus level, you must collect vials of mercury to build yourself to 100% mass in order to finish, and losing any mass ends the level. Challenge levels, on the other hand, give you specific goals, usually involving the completion of several levels in a row, while collecting a certain number of bonus pick-ups and finishing with a certain percentage of your mass remaining.
Mercury Hg has got a lot of content at a great price. For a mere $5 (400 Microsoft Points), you get 60 Discovery Levels, 36 Challenge levels and 20 Bonus levels, with at least two DLC level packs incoming. Add to that an aesthetic reminiscent of the late, great Marble Blast Ultra, and you’ve got one of the best downloadable values to come around this year.
+ Lots of content for only $5
+ Clean visual style reminds me of Marble Blast Ultra
+ Simple, fun gameplay that’s easy to pick up, but tough to master
- Custom soundtracks don’t affect the game in a significant way (though the tutorial would have you believe otherwise)
- Occasional, crippling slowdown when restarting a level
Mercury Hg was released on September 27th, 2011 for PS3, and September 28th, 2011 for Xbox 360. Review based on the Xbox 360 version.