This is easily the best deal on the Wii so far.
The Wii version of Super Monkey Ball was something of a disappointment. It didn't have the same feel as the GameCube launch title, or the same longevity. If you're looking for another game to satisfy your board-tilting puzzle game itch, Ignition Entertainment has the solution. Mercury Meltdown Revolution brings the spirit of Monkey Ball to the Wii, but has its own style and unique challenge that will test even the most experienced gamers.
Mercury Meltdown Revolution stars a blob of mercury, and it's up to you to slide it around levels using the Wii remote as the tilting mechanism. The game is separated into eight themed worlds with over 150 levels altogether. They level design varies, consisting of simple Point A to Point B affairs, complicated mazes, tests of balance, color combination skills, and sheer acts of courage and bravery. Because of the many different obstacles the game throws at you, you'll encounter something new with just about every stage.
The way the game is designed makes many of the levels a genuine challenge. Most of the time you'll be opening doors and passing gates en route to the goal, but there are a lot of ways the game can make you do it. The majority of doors and gates are color-coded. Levels have paint shops that change the color of your mercury blob, but most of the time it's not as easy as applying a new color and tripping the switch to open a door.
For instance, there may be a purple switch to trigger a door, but only a red and blue paint shop available in a level. What must you do? Split your blob in half, paint each a different color, and then combine them back again to make purple. Color is important in Meltdown, so much so that a color wheel showing the different color combinations is on the HUD. Some levels take the color mixing to the extreme, but because of the variety in the game, there aren't many where you'll need to constantly refer back to the color wheel.
In fact, color compatibility is the least of your problems. Because gravity is the primary force at work, and mercury is liquid metal, the risk of spilling some of your blob is high. If you stray too close to an edge, you will lose a percentage of your mercury. This is a problem because certain switches are activated by the weight of your blob. If you lose too much, you won't be able to continue. Many stages have platforms that are just wide enough for your blob to cross safely, and if you start to lose your balance, you'll start to lose your mercury.
And that's not all! There are the conveyor belts, trampolines, electric shocks, ice patches, spikes, toxic blocks, holes in the ground, gravity inverters, moving platforms, transporters, teeter-totters, guillotines, pendulums, critters that eat mercury, exploding enemies, and a bunch of other stuff to contend with. (Not all at once; that would be unfair.) And did I mention the different states of mercury? Hot mercury is goopier and slides around faster, cold mercury is thicker and can cling against skinny wall rails, and as a solid ball you can roll along rails. If you consider all the possible combinations of all of this stuff, you'll begin to understand how crazy levels can get.
The biggest reason for why Mercury Meltdown Revolution works so well on Wii is that the motion controls of the remote and the board-tilting nature of the game are a perfect fit. Holding the Wii remote NES-style and tilting it is very natural. Once I got the hang of it in the easier stages, I soon found I had an amazing amount of control. There's a generous dead zone, so you can easily keep the board flat when you need to. The board tilts a bit slowly, but this seems to be by design because it allows for very precise control when you're teetering on a skinny pathway. Classic and GameCube controller support is included, but it's a lot harder to get fine movements from an analog stick. Plus, it's a lot more fun to control this game with motion.
If there's one downside to using the remote, it's the fact that you can't always get a good view of things. The buttons on the Wii remote control the camera. The view snaps to 90-degree angles every time you press left or right on the D-Pad, and zooms in and out with the 1 and 2 Buttons. If you try turning the camerawhile you're tilting the board, the tilt will have changed directions relative to the new view. Because of this, it's very difficult to move and change views at the same time without veering off-course. Some levels have obstacles that require a lot of camera movement, and I was fighting the camera system more than I was navigating around the level. It can get especially disorienting when your blob splits up and there is more than one object for the camera to track. The awkwardness of the camera system is the only big fault of the game, but for all but a few levels it won't be a huge problem.
Mercury Meltdown provides multiple ways for gamers to challenge themselves. The primary goal is to get to the finish line in as many levels as possible. However, the game has other challenges for those looking for a little more difficulty. Most of the time you can finish a stage with just 1% of your mercury remaining, but the game rewards you if you can reach the finish with 100% safely delivered. Every course has a par time limit, so you can shoot for speed after figuring out how to solve a level. If you do well in both time and mercury remaining, you'll be able to get the high score on each of the levels. When trying to beat these targets set by the game, Meltdown really shines as a hardcore gamer's dream. The game can even get frustrating at times; not because the game is being unfair to you, but because you know you can do better if you just keep at it. It's great.
The casual set can enjoy the game, too. The initially locked levels and party games can all easily be unlocked through normal play. You won't need to jump through hoops just to get the next set of levels. In fact, you can gain access to the entire game without beating everything. If some stages are too hard for you (and there will be plenty of them), just skip them and return later. There will come a point where you'll need to overcome some big challenges to unlock the last few stages, but by that point enough content will be available to where you'll have played more than your money's worth.
That's the best part about Mercury Meltdown Revolution. The budget retail price of $20 makes the game instantly attractive, and it's a fantastic game too, making this a no-brainer. I'm loving Mercury Meltdown Revolution, and I intend to come back to it again and again until I've conquered everything there is to offer. That might take a while!