For the casual gamer, Mercury Hg offers quick, immersive gameplay that is easy to dive into and an instant joy to play. Gamers navigate a blob of Mercury through the complex elemental world of the Periodic Table. Moving tiles, primary colors and treacherous pitfalls block your path. It’s a simple puzzle game that feels like it belongs on the iPhone or iPad, but uses thumbstick controls on the Xbox 360. Although hard-core gamers may find the puzzles a little too simple, there’s no denying the fun in this short but spirited game. There is one caveat. While memorizing the Periodic Table may take days to weeks to complete, finishing up this game can be done in a just under a few hours. Once you’ve conquered every element, there are additional challenges and a leaderboard for extra replay value.
Mercury Hg starts off with a few simple tutorial puzzles. Your goal is to get your blob of mercury from start to finish. Mercury moves freely through the tiled board, controlled by the left thumbstick. The right thumbstick allows you to adjust the camera angle. Certain boards will have jagged walls that will break up your Mercury. When this happens, you can press the A-button to magnetically connect nearby pieces of Mercury.
There are some occasions when you will actually want your Mercury to be split up. For instance, the game employs primary colors as one of the core puzzles. In order to get through certain regions or activate certain tiles, you will need to turn your silver colored Mercury into another color. Players can do this by passing through an overhead colored light. This part is kind of like playing THQ’s de Blob. However, sometimes you will need to combine colors. For example, to get into a Green area, players may need to split their Mercury into two pieces. Then, they will have to turn one piece of Mercury Blue and the other piece Yellow. Finally, players will have to recombine these two separate pieces of Mercury into one piece so that they can proceed into the Green region.
Much like Sega’s Super Monkey Ball, you’ll have to avoid pitfalls. The game takes place on a floating tile world so it is easy for pieces of Mercury to fall off. Also, if you push your thumbstick to far in on direction, the Mercury will accelerate and fly right off the tiled world. Thankfully, you can beat each board with as little as one percent of Mercury remaining.
Gamers are awarded points for total Mercury at completion, Time and Bonus items gathered. It’s all easy at first. But, as the game progresses, trying to keep your Mercury together and grab all the Bonus items will hurt your time. Casual gamers will most likely just seek to complete each board. However, hardcore puzzle gamers will want to challenge themselves to complete all three tasks: beat the time, keep all their Mercury, and gather the Bonus items. By the time most players hit the 40th board, they will be focusing mostly on just the Bonus items. The design team wanted to be sure gamers kept challenging themselves so they broke the Periodic Table into five groups. In order to proceed into group 2, you’ll need 25 points. You unlock a new grew every time you collect 25 points.
Those Super Monkey Ball pitfalls get even trickier as you progress. On one board, you actually have to gather momentum to fly across a pitfall to the next tiled platform. Then, you will need to quickly slow down once you land so that you don’t slide into the next pitfall.
Mercury Hg has several diverse puzzle environments. On one of the Discovery boards, some of the tiles will rotate in a cylindrical motion, while other tiles will form underneath you as you move. You have to slowly navigate these boards to figure out where the tiles will pop up so that you don’t fall. The actual levels could have benefitted with some additional artistic design. After a while, looking at geometrical shapes gets boring. On a positive note, you can also actively swap in music from your own library as you play; this makes the tiles on the board react differently to the music.
For science fans, the menu system lets you work your way around the Periodic Table to replay boards you’ve already completed. So, while your taking a break from gameplay you can also get in some studying. Unfortunately, two rows of the table are download packs. This is one of the reasons that you can fly through this game so quickly.
At the end of every board, gamers get to see how they match up with other gamers through the XBLA leaderboard. It’s a great way to get you to encourage replay as you try to get a better time on each board as well as boost your overall record.
Mercury Hg is terrific addition to the puzzle genre on XBLA. However, its short length will frustrate you when you’re begging for more.