If you enjoy casual, pick up and play puzzle games, then get ready for an experience, because Mercury Hg is going to rock – and roll. From the developers of Polar Panic and Arctic Adventures comes an update to a PSP classic.
Mercury is a liquid metal at room temperature and pretty toxic substance to play with, unless it’s done digitally of course. The core premise is to ‘simply’ guide a blob of mercury around a tilting puzzle maze, whilst collecting bonuses, reach the finish with as much of the blob as possible and do so in the fastest time possible. Mercury was first released on the PSP in 2005, updated again in 2006/7 as Mercury Meltdown and is now released in HD format as Mercury Hg – pun intended, as a few keen observers have already noticed.
UTV Ignition approached us to develop a next gen version of their popular IP, Mercury. We were tasked with bringing the franchise bang up to date to appeal to today’s gamer so we designed an entirely new look for the game, drawing inspiration from the designs of Apple and games like WipeOut and Mirror’s Edge.
As part of the process, we wanted to go beyond a simple ‘re-skinning’ of the old game and so explored ways to make the levels much more visually dynamic and engaging. From the start we knew we wanted the soundtrack to be an integral part of the experience so we tied that into the design with parts of the levels and backgrounds glowing and pulsing in time with the music.
So the new version of Mercury is heading your way, but what’s new? We’ve kept the basic premise of the game, getting the blob of mercury from the start to the finish, keeping as much of the blob in the level as possible, mixing of colours, splitting and merging mechanics. We’ve streamlined a majority of the elements within the levels, the floor is now really funky with lighting effects and along with some features that you really do need to see live in the game.
We’ve made the game more accessible by balancing the game for both the casual gamer and those also looking for a challenge, the sooner you download it the sooner you’ll be on the leaderboards. Progressing through the game by unlocking content is now a lot easier than the previous titles and in general the levels themselves as a whole are easier to complete. The majority of them fit into the 30-60 second time frame if played well, some are shorter and some are longer. We set ourselves a limit of 2 minutes max for the successful 100% completion of a level and all of the levels adhere to that philosophy. This reduces the frustration that players had at losing their last drop of mercury after playing a level for five minutes and gives a more pick up and play feel to it.
Replayability is an important aspect of a game like Mercury and something that you want to encourage for that ‘one more go feel’, we’re pretty confident we’ve nailed that too. Each level has a leaderboard based on the score, which leans heavily on completing the levels with 100% Mercury and collecting all the bonuses. We also have leaderboards based on time, so the fastest route to the finish, which encourages the player to hurl the mercury blob off ledges hoping that a small part of it will make it to the finish tile. The ghost replay system remains, allowing you to race against your previous best score and time runs for each level, you can also download the top ranking leaderboard ghost for every level as well.
Rock and Roll
Music also plays a major role in the feel of the game. The blob pulses to the beat of the music as do the backgrounds and tiles, a graphic equaliser pulses through the front end menus. Players can also stream in their own music from various music sources so you get a kind of interactive jukebox that can be personified. It also made sense to support the SIXAXIS functionality of PlayStation3 controllers, something that was discussed at length on the original title but never came to fruition. It adds a different element of skill to the game; some will prefer it, and others will still prefer the more precise control of the analogue sticks.
Elemental, My Dear Watson
There are 120 levels across the main game and two DLC packs, each level named after one of the periodic table elements. The educated amongst you will note that there are only 118 recognised elements currently, we took the liberty of adding a couple more, maybe the IUPAC (http://www.iupac.org/) will consider those names when element 119 & 120 have been proven to exist.
In addition there are also a total of 40 bonus levels across the main game and DLC packs, these are variations on the main levels, the player starts off with a small blob of Mercury and must navigate the level collecting the other blobs in order to finish. Then finally there are 20 challenges, with 10 in the main game and each DLC pack offering a further 5. These are tricky in that the player is asked to meet a set of criteria across a set of levels rather than just completing one individual level.
Mercury Hg is released at the end of September along with the first DLC, with a further DLC pack coming in a few months. Rest assured that there is a wealth of content for your money and you won’t be disappointed. We wanted the game to appeal to as many people as possible and the price reflects this, we want you to not to have to think twice about buying it. Mercury Hg is one of the slickest puzzle games to have been released on PlayStation 3 – download the demo and give a try for yourself.
Out 28th September for £3.99/€4.99.