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Archer Maclean's Mercury really is a unique game that takes some of the old ideas of classic games and adds a nice 21st Century twist upon it. This game for me was kind of a revelation when I first played it; the point of the game is to get a blob of Mercury from one side of the board to the other with as much Mercury as possible. Simple I hear you say!!! No not really and that is the best part of the game by far.
The game works in a similar way to some of the early releases of the Commodore 64 or Spectrum 48 games such as Gyroscope or Marble Madness, games which I still enjoy playing today. Instead of moving the object, you have to move the board by tilting it in various directions to move the Mercury to the nominated location. Throughout the game there are obstacles such as gates, steps and also conveyor belts that you need to overcome to get the Mercury through and complete the level.
Naturally this starts off at the very easy end of the scale and progresses through to extremely hard as you find that the blob has to be split into an equal number of pieces that you need to get in a number of different locations on the same board. There area total of 72 levels to complete and at the moment I have achieved progress to level 47, and still playing this on a nightly basis. Of course as in any game there are levels that you complete at a thundering pace and start to think you've climbed a big mountain. Then you come to a level that you effectively hit a brick wall upon and play on this level for a day or so. As you progress you get to open up new worlds and also find some of the "hidden features" within the levels as well. With six worlds to concur then it is roughly 12 levels per world, each has a theme to them such as Ice World and Medieval which makes the level unique that you are playing. The levels are completed when you have the required amount of Mercury within the End Zone within the allotted time, each level these change so that one level you may to get 1% of Mercury or you may have to get 15% of the Mercury blob into the End Zone.
The game play is very, very slick to say the least and uses a broad range of colours that the PSP can handle very well which makes the appearance look even more professional. Music is an ambient type of slow paced melody that definitely ebbs towards being clubby in nature, at first I thought it was going to be the same on every single level but was surprised to find that this consistently changes on each level, this eliminates the repeat factor massively and although on some levels you need to go from B to A, where previously you've gone from A to B, this does actually add to the game and doesn't detract at all as the layout is somewhat different to the course as obstacle layout has been changed accordingly.
Animation of the Mercury is outstanding; the manner in which the blob reacts is lifelike with the motion very smooth while also reacting to the controls of the player. Obviously the controls are vital to the game play and as the levels progress and the difficulty increases you find that the control pad on the PSP is being touched in amore gentler manner at Level 20 than at Level 1. As you play, you'll also find that you'll be moving the whole PSP in an attempt to tilt the game board, guess it's a natural thing, but believe me it doesn't help doing this. If no controls are pressed the board stays in a normal flat position.
The addictive factor is completely off the scale in the same way Tetris was and once this is started then the goal to complete the game is very high indeed. It is frustrating when the Blob falls of the board into eternity, but this only increases the determination to carry on.
When this was released it was £29.99 to buy, Play are selling this at the moment for £3.99. I would consider this game a definite classic on the PSP mainly due to the fact that this is the type of game that the PSP is made for.