Arthur McLean's Mercury
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 04/06/05 | Genre: Puzzle
When Sony announced the PSP, many skeptics were fearful that the console would simply be used for quick PlayStation 2 ports that offered little or no original gaming. While some of the PSP titles can be called PS2 ports, there are a great number of titles for the platform that can't be found on any other system. Archer MacLean's Mercury is one title that falls into this category. While there are some issues with the game, it is overall a great experience.
You may not be very familiar with Archer MacLean. However, a few sessions with Mercury will make you wonder why they haven't been developing more puzzle games. In this title, you control metals (mercury) around a maze and try to get to the finishing gate. Some of the levels are easy and others will cause you to pull your hair out. Players who enjoy the fun and challenge of Super Monkey Ball or are old enough to remember playing Marble Madness will instantly fall in love with the gameplay.
As discussed above, each level will require you to complete a different objective. Some of them will want to ensure you don't lose more than a certain percentage of your mercury--while others will force you to complete a level as fast as possible. No matter what the gameplay objective is, players will have to finish the level before the timer runs out. The faster you finish and the more mercury you have left will result in bonuses. You will then enter your initials and compare your scores to the developers. It is a very big accomplishment to obtain a higher score.
Fortunately, the gameplay is not always as simple as moving one blob of mercury to the finish. From time to time you will be given more than one blob of mercury and be asked to complete the level by figuring out how to get there. Sometimes you will need to combine the different mercury blobs together to form a different color so you can unlock certain doors. At other times the game will require you to control one blob of mercury through the level, open up a door, and then let the other blob through. This works well in theory but this brings up one of the frustrating parts about Archer MacLean's Mercury... the mercury blobs are very hard to control separately. There really isn't a way to keep one blob from moving, so you have to hope you don't lead them off a ledge and be forced to restart the levels. For most of the levels you can work around this but a few of them will cause you extreme frustration.
After breezing through the first set of levels, you may think that this game very easy. This is far from the truth. While the first world of levels provides you with a brief tutorial with an object and hints, you will lose this in later worlds. This will cause you to figure out how to get through a level without any guidance. Besides that, after the first world the levels are also much larger and take more time to complete. Since the load times between levels is so long, this will at least give you more gameplay time between worlds.
If you can handle the increasingly difficult challenge that Archer MacLean's Mercury offers, you will find a lot of levels to play through. There are six worlds, 72 levels, and an unlockable world for you to play through. Depending on the success of the title, there are even hints at a sequel to Mercury found inside the game.
Overall, this is an excellent title that I enjoyed playing. If you are a fan of puzzle games, this is yet another PSP title that needs to be in your library.