When the first of the Mercury games was conceived, it was designed with a PSP tilt sensor in mind. When the add-on was scrapped, developer Awesome Studios pressed on with making the game, undeterred and obviously aware that they were producing something worth standing by.
Since then the series has stayed on consistently good form, appearing across the Sony formats, despite missing out on the huge commercial success it deserves. That isn't to say that Mercury has fared badly, but it deserves to have done incredibly well.
The game's developers must have had their eye on the Wii since the moment the console's control system was announced. With its motion sensitivity and wireless control, Nintendo's little white box is the perfect home for Awesome's liquid metal maze game.
For those who are unaware of the central premise of the Mercury titles, it is a fairly simple one that is reworked again and again, to create a mixed and substantial puzzle game. At a most basic level, the challenge is to guide a blob of the viscous metal of the game's title through a maze from beginning to end, within a time limit and while keeping a set percentage of your blob from falling into the abyss below each stage.
This is done not by directly controlling the mercury, but through gently tipping the maze and letting gravity take effect on the elemental globule. Dozens of obstacles and ingenious contraptions are in place to make this simple task a little harder, including those that reverse gravity, or require you to split your blob into three to reach several goals simultaneously.
'... the new controls will give you the sensation you are finally playing Ignition Entertainment's creation as it was always meant to be played...'
The most obvious way to apply Mercury to the Wii would have been to follow in the footsteps of the other 'ball in a tray' Wii titles, Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz and Kororinpa, which require the player to hold the Wii-mote in one hand like a TV remote. Instead, Revolution takes the ingenious step of turning the Wii controller on its side, meaning it has to be held with two hands. Excite Truck has already proved the degree of precision and accuracy this 'stance' provides, but Mercury Meltdown Revolution makes it its own, giving you an unrivalled sensation of control.
In the main game, after a brief tutorial made rather unnecessary by Mercury's instinctive nature, you are introduced to the first of the eight laboratories. Each of these labs contains 16 levels, meaning that you get plenty of puzzling for your money. Initially you will probably cruise through the first few levels, but progressing into the later laboratories you will likely have to miss some out, returning with your skills honed and your knowledge of the various trip falls and mechanisms expanded.
Beyond the basic moving blocks, conveyer belts and crumbling surfaces that are to be expected, there are around 40 other obstacle types, from rather uninspired enemies that harass and consume you, to the inventive colour-mixing puzzles that are a mainstay throughout Revolution. Passing through various 'paint shops' that dye your blob one of the three primary colours, allows you to pass through colour-coded gates and force fields. From a relatively early stage, you are expected to split the mercury in two, before dyeing each section a different hue and combining them again to form a new shade. To pass through a purple gate for example, requires a blue blob to envelop a red ball of mercury.
The other main tool within the game comes in the form of the changes of state that your glutinous globule can go through. On occasion, it will be turned into a solid ball, meaning it can be rolled rapidly over rails. The mercury can also be heated or cooled, resulting in a slow and sticky, or worryingly slippery condition respectively.
What really makes Mercury Meltdown Revolution is the myriad of ways in which the game's developers have combined the various obstacles. From intricate chequer boards liberally coated with conveyer belts in all directions, to action orientated challenges that see you carefully guiding your blob through huge leaps into the air, variety is at Revolution's heart.
Each level also contains a number of bonuses, tucked away in hard to reach areas that usually require nerves of steel and the steadiest of hands to reach. Collecting bonuses unlocks a selection of understated and rather enjoyable party games, including racing, curling, and a traditional block placing puzzle game, that contradict the negative stereotypes Wii mini-games have deservedly attracted. Each is playable alone, or with a friend, giving Revolution a humble, but thoroughly enjoyable multiplayer mode.
A ghost mode, inspired by driving games, has also been added, meaning that while tackling a level you can also see your previous best performance. This ghost mode is unobtrusive and goes some way towards spurring you on to outperform yourself and finish previously unbeaten mazes.
If there are any complaints, they only really apply to people who have already enjoyed the previous Mercury Meltdown games. If you fall into that category, you may well find Revolution startlingly familiar. Still, the new controls will give you the sensation you are finally playing Ignition Banbury's creation as it was always meant to be played, but there's a nagging feeling you're simply enjoying Mercury Meltdown version 1.1.
The gaudy graphics and overbearing colour palette will also be off-putting to some, but on the whole Revolution is a fantastic puzzle game that not only marks the high point of a brilliant series of games, but proves that the Wii-mote can offer fantastically precise control over and above providing novelty.