Mercury Meltdown RevolutionESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Ignition Banbury
Publisher – Ignition Entertainment
Wii-remote control (tilt function)
Classic Controller compatible
Originally released for the PSP in 2005, Mercury Meltdown was an innovative puzzler that just didn’t seem at home on Sony’s portable console. It was as if something was missing. Well, fast forward to 2007 and Ignition Entertainment releases a home console version of the game on the Nintendo Wii, aptly titled Mercury Meltdown Revolution. After sitting down with the game, and using the Wii-remote to play, I believe that the game has found what was missing on the PSP, the ability to be played with a tilt sensitive controller. This new and improved home console version with motion sensitive control is definitely worth the price of admission.
I played my review version of Meltdown on a 42-inch Sharp Aquos LCD T.V. and it looked pretty good. It plays in 480p but it is not 16x9 as there were some small black borders along the sides. There is no doubt that Meltdown does not push the limits of the Wii hardware but regardless the colors are bright and vibrant and they manage to make the each level jump off the screen. They visuals manage to seem somewhat cartoonish but yet it they are not overly childish or silly looking. Each level is very specific, and as you get into the later levels they start to have a lot of multiple paths, elevations and lots of moving parts. The game maintains a smooth and solid framerate and the individual globs of mercury move around with a gelatin like ooze. Overall the game’s visuals do a darn good job, and except for the lack of true 16x9 support, there is nothing disappointing with them.
The audio in Meltdown is not bad as it manages to compliment the theme of the game. I found myself so involved in the puzzle aspects of this game that I originally found that the music really didn’t make that much of difference, but as time went by I noticed that there were a few times that I caught myself taping my foot to the musical interludes that came out of my TV’s speakers. That definitely meant I was enjoying the music as I didn’t go and turn it down, or even off, as I have in many of the puzzle games I played in the past. Be forewarned though, the music is not anything that will make you go “wow”, as it isn’t that prevalent, it is just that it manages to mix with the overall gameplay so well that it is a compliment to it. As for the rest of the sound effects, they are somewhat simple but they manage to get the job done. From the sounds of the teleporters to the sounds of some mercury falling, all is wrapped up into one neat package. Overall all the audio works well in Meltdown, and like the graphics you won’t be disappointed.
Meltdown makes no bones about it; it is simply a puzzle game that offers numerous levels for one to get through. It does not try to add some sort of storyline as to why you are taking on said challenges as there is nothing that you can do to explain the game’s premise. In terms of the gameplay style, Meltdown brings back memories of original games like Marble Madness, and most recently Sega’s Monkey Ball series. But unlike these two aforementioned games, Meltdown has you guiding a glob of metallic liquid around the various levels presented rather then guiding a ball/sphere. I was somewhat cautious when starting to play this game for a few reasons, the first and foremost being that I have never considered myself a puzzle expert. However as I ventured through the various levels presented I found myself wanting to keep on playing as the game hooked me from the start.
The rules of Meltdown are simple enough to allow anyone to understand the game from the get-go. The main premise is that you need to get as much mercury as you can to the end of each level and this mercury will start to fill a test tube. The fuller it gets, the quicker you will open other labs and other levels with even more test tubes. You are awarded points for completing each level, and the quicker and more accurate you are the more points you are awarded. Should you not finish the level in the time allotted that is ok as you can still finish it without much of a penalty. Of course you will need to guide your glob of mercury through each level as quickly as possible to get maximum score. Where the accuracy falls into place is that you will want to try as hard as possible to keep all your mercury together without allowing any of it to drip off the edge allowing as much as possible to be placed into each test tube.
It seems simple enough, but there are many different obstacles thrown at you in an effort to make the challenge tougher. Some of the obstacles will solidify your mercury while others will make it even liquidier. There are even creatures that will try to eat your mercury. Along with the said obstacles, you also have moving platforms, different types of surfaces and even escalators. All in all you will find each level offering its own challenges and you will have to hone not only your thinking skills, but your controller skills as well.
Developer Ignition Banbury has made sure that this game isn’t a cakewalk and it seems that they have put a lot of thought into each level of the game. The learning curve is quite constant and gradual as the further into the game you get the harder and more involved each puzzle gets. And although the game gets trickier the more you play, you never get that feeling that the difficulty just ramped up out of the blue. Oh, and for those reading this review who think that Meltdown is just about guiding a single glob of liquid metal to the finish line while avoiding obstacles, you’d better think again. Many of the levels have you controlling more then one glob of mercury, and in different colors to boot, to solve the various puzzles which allow you to get to the end of each level. This is just yet another example of the ingenuity of Meltdown’s design and gameplay.
If there is any big advancement in Meltdown over past versions, it is the game’s Wii-centric control via the motion sensing abilities of the Wii-remote. This game just screams for tilting abilities and the Wii’s special controller makes it easy for such possibilities to occur. Being able to tilt the board in the direction I needed my glob of mercury to go couldn’t have been more intuitive. The Wii-remote managed respond to even the slightest of movements and didn’t feel overly or under responsive. Any mistakes that I made were due to my own actions. Along with the tilting control, there are some minor button assignments that are utilized for the camera. The d-pad is used to rotate the camera around while the 1 and 2 buttons are used to zoom in and out. These camera functions are somewhat important as it allows you varying views of the level you are on and can assist in your effort to get from point A to point B. Bottom-line, Meltdown was really meant for the Wii-remote and it was a true joy to play the game with it.
In terms of the length of gameplay, Meltdown is anywhere from 9-12 hours long depending on your gaming skill. There are a lot of levels to play too. There are a total of eight laboratories and a total of 16 test tubes to fill. There are well over 100 levels to make your way through in the game. For those that have played the PSP version, a lot of the same levels are on tap for the Wii version, but there are some new Wii levels as well, so there are some new levels for veterans of the original game to experience.
To add a bit more gameplay to the Wii version of Meltdown there are five party games that you can open up. If you collect enough bonus items in the main game you can unlock these party games for you to enjoy by yourself or with a friend, offline of course. The five games are Rodeo, Paint, Shove, Race and Metrix. In Rodeo you have to stay on the level for as long as you can while a fan tries to blow you off. In Paint your glob of mercury leaves a colored trail behind you and you need to use this trail to cover more area then your opponent. In Shove you need to ‘shove’ your glob of mercury to the center of the target for points while avoiding various hazards. In Race you race against another player on a race course. Finally, in Metrix you place 3 blobs adjacent to each other and once you explode 3 or more you fill a mercury gauge, score some points and earn a few extra seconds of time. Fill the gauge and you advance a level and when time runs out the game is over. For me the highlight of these five games was Paint and Rodeo. But in terms what will be your favorite, I can’t answer that because it comes down to personal preference.
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