Mercury Meltdown Revolution (Wii) - Review by andyr
Mercury Meltdown Revolution has had something of a chequered past. As the lovechild of classic 16-bit gameplay, modern day physics and motions control it was a game destined for greatness. However, for a long time it looked like this would never happen. The original tilt sensor peripheral for the PSP never saw the light of day, and the game ended up being released without its designed in tilt mechanism. Although not a total flop, this certainly curtailed its sales as players had to translate real world motions to the PSP's analogue nub or worse still, the device's questionable D-pad.
Therefore, when the Wii broke onto the scene it looked like the little game may find a home for itself after all. The Wii's motion sensitive controllers could have been tailor made for Mercury's subtle and involved tilting mechanic. So Mercury Meltdown Revolution was born.
The game works on a number of levels. Firstly there is the sheer physicality of the tilting dynamic. The challenge of guiding your blob of liquid metal, monkey ball like, around a maze and into the goal. But here is where the similarities end with respect to Sega's monkey infested tilt-fest; Mercury adds a considerable amount of depth. Firstly there is the colouring technique; your blob of mercury can only access certain parts of the level if you are a certain colour. The three primary colours can be picked up in certain zones, but more subtle hues need to be created by mixing two differently colours blobs of mercury. This is where the third dynamic comes into play; the ability to divide your blob of mercury into an infinite number of parts. Simply run it into a sharp edge or corner and voila, you have two blobs for the price of one. The final play mechanic is this ability to solidify your mercury to enable access across gappy walkways that in liquid form your mercury would drip through into oblivion.
The game is played with the Wii-mote alone. You hold it horizontally as you do for driving games and the NES virtual console games. The various tilting and rocking you need to apply to each level is then simple matter of move the Wii-mote in the corresponding direction. As we mentioned at the top of the review, this is a real homecoming for Mercury as it has been promised a controller of this ilk since its very first outing. You can certainly see why the developers pushed so hard to get it to this point. The real life tilting action transforms what could be a somewhat drab monkey ball clone into something rather special. There is a massive about of connection and a sense of weight between the player and the game. After a while you really do forget about the control scheme altogether and instinctively focus on what you need to do in the level.
Visually, you can certainly discern the developer's 16-bit origins. There is more than a graphical nod to the primary coloured, heavily outlined art style of games gone by. This certainly works well with the genre that demands a clear interface to enable the play to quickly understand the on screen action. While this isn't going to impress the relatives next time you get the Wii out, its graphics certainly do the job and are appropriate to this style of game. The lack of wow factor is likely to be a joint combination of the Wii's focus on gameplay rather than graphical prowess, and the fact that this is a game that has been ported from the PSP and PS2. The transition has been handled pretty well with the Wii's visual output easily living up to the older consoles renderings. Although it is obviously hard to measure these types of things, it seemed to us that there was something of an improvement in the frame rate department. The images just feel a little more solid than they were on the Sony machines, this could of course be down to the Wii's tilt controls making the whole experience more enjoyable.
The game's music is again a nod back to the days of yore, when the Amiga and Atari ST ruled the gaming waves. There are plenty of chip-sound blips and pops that give the gameplay a more embodied feel. Although not in your face, this audio aspect of the game is a key element in adding some weight to proceedings, which considering the subject of the title is absolutely essential. Again the music and effects delivered are directly ported from the PS2 version, so there are not that many surprises to be had here.
The game has been out for a while now and certainly offers excellent value if you can pick it up quite cheaply. That said, with hindsight you have to wonder whether this sort of title would sit better in the WiiWare channel's direct delivery mechanism. This, one imagines, would enable them to more easily develop and sell extras to the main game, as well as significantly reducing the price to market.
Pro: Classic gameplay that harks back to the best of the 90's.
Con: Lack of expansion this time around, although fingers crossed for a follow up.
Final score: 7.7