The Wii seems to be slowly gaining pace as a games machine; it's starting to attract various high profile titles from other developers. It is also attempting (I think) to shed the kidsy image that some of the games have given it. Mortal Kombat and so forth, coupled with Resident Evil and various other titles (released or not) are starting to appear on the platform alongside the Marios and Super Monkey Balls.
If you're like me though and you're looking for something that doesn't have zombies, fantasy monsters or polygonal violence (nothing wrong with that of course) then you might want to check out: Mercury Meltdown Revolution from Ignition. The original Archer MaCleans' Mercury was a stellar hit and gained much acclaim, since then it's popped up here and there, remixed and revitalised since Ignition seem to have a fondness for it.
Why not? Since it's a great game and dare I say it? This iteration is the best one yet, there's something about using the Wii-mote to control this little blob of mercury that warms my heart and brings back the good old days of rocking a wooden maze from side to side to control a steel ball, back before steam and valve computing and CDs (yeah I'm that old).
Seriously though, MMR is a fine blend of control bliss and puzzle mayhem that should have you trading in every other puzzle game you own to get it. It's just that good honestly. The series has never played as well as it does on Nintendo's console and it builds on the already nerve-wracking, hair-pulling goodness of the previous titles to provide a solid experience this time around.
Since Marble Madness and various iterations, there's always been a fondness in my heart for puzzle games like this. I remember them on the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and even the Amiga. I've gotten my hands on Shareware versions, Freeware versions and even played versions that friends have created.
For those of you new to what I'm talking about, the idea is very simple. Take a blob of mercury and roll it to the end of a course, sounds easy, of course it is. Until you add the various ways to change to form of the mercury and fiendish traps to the mix, then it becomes complicated and downright sadistic in places. Timers and power-ups/downs add further to the challenge.
You have to be careful about spilling mercury in this version, a nice little evil twist as well as being able to split the mercury up to proceed along the route you need to take. You can change the state of the mercury as in the other games as well as the colour; this is sometimes needed to get by certain types of sensors that only allow a particular colour type past them.
These little gameplay elements are excellent and to truly get the best out of the game, eschew the Classic Controller and play it with the Wii-mote solely, if you don't you'll be missing out on what makes the game even more fun and that would be a disservice to the slick control method that's been implemented by the developers.
By playing the single player levels you'll unlock party levels and extra labs, all told the game has a whopping 150+ levels of mercury malarkey to keep you going for quite a while. Each of the 8 labs in the game is broken into 16 levels a-piece and it allows you to revisit old levels and attempt to beat your previous score, save more mercury or replay a favourite level.
The game even has a replay option where you can view your trip through a level; this helps you to see where you might have gone wrong or relive a cool moment or two. There's also a Ghost Player mode that functions similar to the Ghost Car in racing games.
The fun doesn't stop there, MMR has a few party games for you to unlock and play.
Rodeo puts your blob of mercury on a small tray with a moving fan; the fan becomes stronger and stronger as time passes. You can collect pickups to slow the fan down and give you more time to hang on.
Paint lets you play against an opponent, paint as much of the area as you can before your timer runs out. There are various power ups such as paint bombs, these blow up and shower paint over the area in the colour of the player that touched them.
Shove reminds me of the sport of curling, you push your blob into the centre of a target to get max points. Avoid hazards and grab score increasing multipliers.
Race will let you play against a timer or another player, a little like Wipeout but with blobs of mercury.
Metrix is perhaps the most complicated of the party games. You must place your mercury into a special hopper. Make a set, which is a collection of 3 blobs that are placed adjacent to each other (not diagonally) - once you've done this you can then move them into a tray where you try to explode sets of 3 or more blobs. You get some mercury for your gauge, extra time and points.
There are power ups, bonus stars and a freezer that stops your opponent for a while.
So with these little bonus games, the main game and fiendish level design MMR is one of the best puzzle games you can get for the Wii. I personally think it's one of the best puzzle games that I've played in a long time and regardless of the fact it doesn't have mind-blowing graphics (I'd rather have solid gameplay than amazing graphics any day) or a fantastic musical score, it is still a great title and deserves a place on your shelf.
I'd like to see a return to the era of these games since they were excellent party games and I've a Birthday coming up fairly soon, so you can guess they'll be much MMR since I've traded in my Monkey Balls for a blob of mercury madness.