Itís a common belief that a game is good if it is easy to learn, yet hard to master. Archer MacLeanís Mercury
is a prime example of this adage. You control your blob of goo by tilting the level in the direction you want the mercury to move. You have to set off all of the switches on the level in a certain amount of time, while not losing too much mercury. The game is divided into six worlds (each with 12 levels), giving you a grand total of 72 mind-bending challenges (not including the unlockable-bonus levels). Nine levels are weighted to give more importance to one of three types (Race, Percentage, and Tasks). Even if you are better at a certain type of level (for example, the ones that require you to hit multiple switches within a short amount of time with little care for the amount of mercury you have), you have to master the other types to progress because you have to go through each level in a world before unlocking the next world. Once you beat a world, you are also treated to a fully rendered movie that gives an overview of the next world.
There are two types of switches in Mercury: Pressure Switches and Colored Switches. In order to activate Pressure Switches, you need to put a certain amount of mercury on the pad. The other switches donít care how much mercury you put on the switch, but they do require the mercury to be a certain color. So how do you make your blobs change color? There are floating cylinders called Paint Shops in most of the levels. When a blob passes under these devices, it changes to its displayed color. You can also form colors by combining mercury blobs of other colors. For example, combining red and blue mercury yields a magenta blob, blue and green gives you cyan, and green and red results in yellow. Your mercury starts off as silver, and if you ever need to make it silver again, you just need to combine all three primary colors (red, green, and blue).
You also have to pilot your way through vacuum pipes, gears, moving platforms, color-filtering doors, and enemies that either block your path or remove some of your mercury (either by zapping or eating you). There are other obstacles that can help or hurt your mission (depending on how you use them). Teleporters suck you up and move your blobs to another part of the level, while Grav Benders push your mercury to an overhang (and upside down).
You will find that there are many different ways to complete the goals of each level. There are typically shortcuts built into each level Ė nothing like hidden passages or anything so sneaky. Usually these shortcuts involve using Teleporters or Grav Benders to ďhopĒ over walls or throw your mercury across gaps. Improving your time and the amount of mercury you have at the end of each level ups your score Ė who knows, something good might happen if you beat the preset top score.