While we may never see another true Marble Madness game again, we do have a few alternatives that might satisfy fans of that ball-rolling arcade classic. Not into monkeys in plastic balls? No problem! Mercury Hg is here to help. It’s a downloadable sequel to the Mercury Meltdown series, and it expands on the formula while still managing to keep the core concepts feeling fresh.
The game’s basics work like this: you are in the control of tilting and moving a level as you attempt to get a ball of mercury from one end of the stage to another, completing small objectives as you continue. Each level has four main objectives, including collecting a certain number of bonus items, not losing any mercury and finishing under an allotted time. Other mechanics include having to carefully split your ball of mercury in half in order to proceed (with the press of a button letting you reform the mercury quickly) and changing the mercury’s color in order to pass through certain parts of each level.
The mercury ball is easily movable, but it can spread apart quickly, making it difficult to navigate around edges without losing parts of it. This mechanic alone might drive some completionists insane, and despite the challenge in some of the levels, you never really feel that frustrated. The controls do their job fine and the level design, while sometimes evil, always feels like it strikes a very delicate balance. As a warning, however: avoid the game’s Sixaxis controls at all costs. They don’t allow for the kind of precision required in most of these levels, and they can lead to more frustration than it’s worth.
The game is split up into three modes: Discovery, Challenge, and Bonus. The Discovery levels are the main portion of the game, and there are 60 total, each with four different objectives to complete. Challenge stages task you to complete a set of levels under a certain amount of time, and Bonus levels are completed by collecting all of the mercury scattered throughout a stage without losing any. There is a lot of content here for the price.
The game also supports custom soundtracks, which we highly recommend. The game’s music isn’t bad, but there just isn’t a lot of it and you will end up hearing some of the same songs over and over again.
Whether you’re unfamiliar with the Mercury Meltdown series or a veteran, this game will provide a good amount of fun for a very reasonable price. The controls feel great, the levels provide plenty of fun, and completionists will have a lot to look forward to in terms of unlockables. It’s not the deepest puzzle game around, but it’s a fun diversion.
Pros: Fun level design; challenging, but not frustrating; plenty of content to keep you busy
Cons: Repetitive music; Sixaxis controls; this game is called Mercury Mercury, which is just silly