Review: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated
If I ask you the question, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea” and you look at me blankly, then move along. If, however you shout back “SpongeBob SquarePants” you have no doubt been exposed in some way to the absorbent, yellow and porous one known as SpongeBob SquarePants.
Like millions of others, I’ve watched the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon and I quite enjoy it; in small doses. To be honest I find it completely bonkers, and it reminds me a bit of Ren and Stimpy. One of the things I like is the animators manage to find the balance of including stuff for adults and kids to enjoy. My two children are aged 3 and 8, and they are often singing the title song, which is equal parts cute and irritating after a while!
Looking into it, SpongeBob SquarePants is a bit of a phenomenon, to say the least. The cartoon has been running since 1999, the franchise has made $13 billion in merchandising revenue, 2 movies have been released grossing nearly $500,0000, 40 video games have been released, and on it goes. It’s fair to say SpongeBob SquarePants isn’t going anywhere, especially with the release of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated.
This latest release is a remaster of the original game from 2003. I’ve never played a SpongeBob SquarePants video game before, and in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting this to be very good, however, I was pleasantly surprised.
Evil robots have taken control of Bikini Bottom and it’s up to SpongeBob and his friends to save the day. The main gameplay is a puzzle platformer, similar to the likes of the Skylander games. There are items to collect throughout the levels including ‘shiny objects’, golden spatulas and socks. 10 Spatulas are hidden around each level and these need to be found to unlock new areas.
You initially take control of SpongeBob, but throughout the game you use Patrick, (SpongeBob’s best friend) and Sandy (a Texan squirrel who does karate) to access different parts of the level. SpongeBob can punch, jump and has special moves including, a jump attack and bottom smash. He can also turn into a ball and roll around the level. Patrick and Sandy also have their own moves which help reach places SpongeBob can’t get to. This adds a nice bit of variety to the game and makes the player think about where to use each character.
I’m a fan of 3D platformers and Banjo-Kazooie is one of my all-time favourite games. The most important thing with this style of game are the controls. I’m pleased to say the gameplay in SpongeBob is good, with jumping and punching feeling responsive. The camera can sometimes be a bit erratic, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the game.
The graphics and sound are spot on, using locations and music taken directly from the cartoon. Everything is bright and colourful, albeit there didn’t seem to be much variation with each level. I’d imagine this is difficult to implement as the game is essentially set underwater. Plus, you don’t want to annoy fans by deviating too much away from the look and style of the cartoon. There are some nice graphical touches, including when you die, as a real hand will appear on screen and place SpongeBob back into the game.
The music is also bright and breezy with a Hawaiian style, but again, suffers from a similar issue with the graphics as it can be a bit repetitive. The voice acting seems to be authentic using the many different characters which appear in the cartoon. SpongeBob and the other playable characters chat to themselves during the game, but they tend to repeat the same soundbites which can be a bit annoying.
Obviously, the game is squarely aimed at young people and I was playing with my 3-year-old. The game is probably aimed at children a bit older than her, but she managed to move SpongeBob around, whilst I controlled the camera to keep her in the right direction. SpongeBob loses his pants whenever he takes a hit, but there is no real penalty for death. There isn’t a game over screen, and you just get placed back where you left off. This is also the case when you fall off a platform. The boss battles were a bit tricky for my 3-year-old, so I took over when they happened. There are plenty of levels in the game, so it is likely to keep you entertained for a while.
Overall, I quite enjoyed SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. It isn’t without its flaws, but it also doesn’t feel like a cheap cash in to capitalise on the franchise. It isn’t going to trouble a list of my favourite platformers, but it is good enough to please fans of the cartoon. If nothing else, it gave my daughter another excuse (if she needed one) to sing along to the theme song.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is available now for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Review by Chris.