Review by Kwing

"An Excellent Puzzle Game, but More of a Side-Dish"

** Intro
> > The biggest selling point of this game is that you're really getting two games. Archer Maclean's Mercury shows its prowess in its impossibly difficult gameplay and its extremely sharp graphics, whereas its sequel Mercury Meltdown features twice as many levels, party games, more features, and really good music.

** Gameplay
> > Your goal in both AMM and MM are to get your blob of mercury to the finish. The catch is that your blob behaves like mercury, meaning it's going to get split up as you move around. In some cases this is necessary and in others it is fatal. For instance, certain gates can only be passed if your mercury is the same color as it. However, you may have a purple gate and only red and blue paint shops available on your platform. To get past, you'd have to split up your mercury, get one into the red paint shop and one into the blue, and then find a corner to squish them both back into to combine them into a larger purple blob. The bad thing about your mercury breaking up, though, is that if you round a corner too sharply, you may lose a bit of your mercury to the infinite abyss below the level platforms. Other features in both AMM and MM include teslas that will shock your blob from a distance, Mercoids (and more selective variations that explode or only target certain colors of mercury) that will eat your blob bite by bite, hammers that will blast your mercury quickly and out of control, gravity warpers, conveyor belts, switches that are color and pressure sensitive, et cetera. Mercury Meltdown also features stations that can heat, cool, or solidify your mercury, which can make it break up easier and move faster, move slower and be nearly impossible to separate, or be solid enough to roll on twin rails, respectively.

> > In AMM, you have to complete each level within the time limit, keep your amount of mercury above a certain percentage, and light up all of the beacons in the level. The levels are split into three types (Race, Percentage, and Task), which put their emphasis on whichever parts. Race levels go by faster and put you in very high danger of running out of time, Percentage levels will have lots more time but very high standards for your required mercury, and Task always presents you with several beacons (which are lit with switches) which must all be lit to pass the level. You need to pass all of the levels in one section to move onto the next, but taking 1st place in all of the scoreboards of a section will unlock a bonus level for you. The game is super hard, though.

> > MM is similar, but your time limit is only necessary for a higher score and level of mercury you can lose before you fail the level is the lowest it can possibly be with you still being able to finish. There are also multiple stars in each level, and three main objectives per level: First place in the scoreboards, level completion with 100% of your mercury, and having collected all of the stars in one playthrough of the level. The amount of mercury you have left at the end of each level will accumulate and go into a gauge, and when that gauge is full you'll alternate unlocking party games (see below) or new labs (sets of 17 levels, one of which are unlocked by having all other levels of that lab completed).

> > MM also features several party games, such as the survival game Rodeo, a racing mode, a Tetris-like game called Metrix, a specialized version of skittles, and a race-like mode called Paint. These are fun and nice distractions that can help break up the monotony of all of the levels.

** Story
> > None.

** Graphics/Sound
> > AMM has stunning, sharp sci-fi graphics, and the blob reflects very realistically. Additionally, the animation (especially when the mercury splits and combines) is almost mesmerizing to look at. MM has a more cartoon take, and outlines many of the graphics. From a glance at online videos, you might see the outline and think the mercury looks less realistic, but on the contrary you can actually see filmy gray stuff pass through the mercury as it rolls, making it look MORE realistic. Both are great, but in terms of the landscaping and backgrounds, the original AMM takes the cake.

> > In terms of sound effects, both are minimalistic and you won't notice them much. In music you'll notice a big difference though. AMM has these ambient techno beats that are annoying and repetitive, though thankfully easy to ignore. MM made a huge improvement and features a lot of instrumental rock, ska, orchestral pieces, etc. which are very interesting. Some of them I've even gone to in the Sound Test section just to listen to!

** Play Time/Replayability
> > Since this is a puzzle game, and probably one of the hardest ones I've played at that, this isn't one of those games that you can go play when you're angry and snap at each part with impeccable reflexes. On the contrary, the only way you'll ever get anywhere in this game is with a cool head, and the sheer difficulty will make it hard to play this game for long periods of time. If you buy this bundle with an action game or something equally brainless, it'll be nice and fun to alternate between the two, but if you grind this game you will go nuts. That being said, if taken in healthy dosages, this game has awesome replay value. Over 200 levels between both games, plus different objectives and some bastard-hard scoreboards in AMM. And to top it off, if you find a really cheap shortcut, you can save a replay (only Mercury Meltdown has this feature) to look at later!

** Final Recommendation
> > For two games in one plus the very low price you can find these at online, you definitely get your money's worth out of this game. It's fun, clever, and makes you think. The simplicity is both a gift and a curse, making the gameplay elegant but also holding it back from a decent storyline or very many different features (there are still a few things to be desired). All in all, though, this is a pretty darn good game.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/11

Game Release: 2 Games in 1! Archer Maclean's Mercury / Mercury Meltdown (US, 11/05/10)


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