Mercury and Mercury Meltdown for the PSP were both fairly innovative games that followed the vein of destination-based puzzle games like Marble Madness. Only this time, you were a ball of mercury, and that meant a whole new slew of challenges and new ways to look at problems.
For those unfamiliar with game, the Mercury series places a ball of mercury on a suspended 3D platform. By tilting this platform, it's up to you to get the mercury rolling on its way to an ultimate goal. Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised.
There are a myriad of different obstacles and devices for you to use to get to the destination, everything from devices able to change your color, split you into multiple gobs of mercury, shoot you into the air, open gates, to enemies and other creatures that either are passively in your way or that try to actively find you out and destroy you. As if you ever did anything to them.
Mercury Meltdown: Remix for the PS2 doesn't try to bring too much variety to the series. You've still got the same blob to guide around the levels without letting it fall off the edge. This time around, there are a slew of new levels, including two entirely new labs, to play through. To get to these new levels however, you'll have to play through the levels that you've already completed on the PSP version. This means that, if you've played the handheld game, you're going to see a lot of familiar sights. It might be a little repetitive to play the same boards again, but you're going to have to if you want to check out the new content.
The game is frustrating, like it or not. The difficulty starts out simple enough, but quickly ramps up to tooth-gnashing, and before you know it, you're finding yourself losing mercury to the enemies and obstacles over and over again. The biggest problem with the difficulty, however, is the irregularity of it. Some levels seem quite hard, only for the one directly after to be a cake walk. Some of the bonus levels make the previous levels in that lab seem easy, while some of them make the previous levels look grueling. Still, the satisfaction of finally reaching the goal after over a dozen tries can hardly be matched.
Remix has a lot of small-scale replay value. Within each level, you're given the goal of reaching the end, but you're also given three sub-goals: complete with all the mercury you started with, collect every bonus, and reach first place on the high scores for that level. Each of these goals can be completed separately (though the mercury percentage and bonus collection help with the high score), which results in replaying the levels to finish them completely.
Completing levels unlocks additional bonus levels, but if you take the time to collect the bonuses in each level, you'll be awarded with extras like new looks for your ball of mercury (like a soccer ball or smiley face) and party games. These 'party' games are little mini games you can play in between levels, and while they're not too deep on their own, the different little games you can play with your little blob are enjoyable as diversions between normal gameplay. With that said, these mini games all single player. In fact, unlike the previous titles, there's no multiplayer in Remix to be found.
The graphics are sharp and cartoony, like a shiny playground, and fit the game well. The sounds are pretty good, as is the music, but tends to be forgettable. It all ties together with the theme of the game fairly well.
Remix can be approached from two angles. One of them is that of the person who hasn't played the PSP version(s) yet. There's a ton of levels to go through, though the ramping difficulty might make some throw down their controller in frustration. On the other hand, those who have played the game on the PSP might not find a lot new here. There's extra content, but you're forced to play through a lot of levels you've played through before. The tilting mechanic, however, is improved nicely by the smoothness of the analog stick (compared to the nub on the PSP), and the camera control is likewise much improved.
As far as puzzle games go, Mercury Meltdown: Remix is one of the fun ones. While the transition to the PS2 was not without its hurdles, it's a worth a try at least. With the wealth of levels, and multiple goals for each, it's got a lot of replay value that'll keep you coming back for more.