REVIEW – Licensed games did not have a lot of success. Sure, nowadays, they are not that prominently present, but those titles are successful. In the early 2000s, we have seen a lot of them, and a huge portion of these games was sub-par (especially those that were released on every possible platform). This is not one of them: it was passable now, it’s passable today.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
The Heavy Iron Studios (PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube) / AWE Games (PC) / Vicarious Visions (Game Boy Advance) trio was behind the original in the autumn of 2003, and it was respectable for its time (albeit, in my opinion, not memorable), published by THQ. We have come full circle, as the licensed product’s remake is now published by THQ Nordic, and developed by Vienna-based Purple Lamp Studios. The original style has remained. Spongebob, Patrick, and Sandy will be the playable characters (and the star is starring if you need power), and they will stop the robot invasion of Bikini Bottom. (Thankfully I don’t have to look for the Hungarian names, I’m writing this with one hand while editing, typical of me.) The locations known from the series are almost all present from the Jellyfish Fields to the Sand Mountain. The script itself resembles the early series of Spongebob Squarepants, and fans will appreciate that. However, Mermaid Man and Mr Krabs’ voice seems to be different.
In the 3D platformer, your goal is to get golden spatulas to complete the stages. Due to the open approach, you can complete the missions in any order. The characters have different abilities, so you have to switch between them, as not everyone can get from point A to point B that easily (for example, the space-suited squirrel’s lasso will get you to places). The collect-a-thon is mostly up to notch even to this day (there are more items than the golden spatulas), but you can still feel that the game was meant to be played by a younger audience, as the difficulty doesn’t seem to be that much present. You can reach the minimum requirement of the 75 spatulas in ten hours, and even side missions can drop you some to hit the maximum of 100 (hit switches? get one; beat a boss? get one; get other items? get one – you get the hint).
There’s also cut content, as now you can fight the robo-Squidward in this version, which wasn’t present in the original. This is a positive thing in… goddamnit I’m not going to write the complete title until the end, in BfBBR. Now that I think of it, this three-character approach was also used in Ed Edd N Eddy: The Mis-Ed-ventures. That was worse than this, though. The 2005 game wasn’t as good as the series that had a solid closure with the film. (At least that game allowed to switch between the Eds on the fly, each with special abilities and whatnot. Too bad the game looked ATROCIOUS.)
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he?
The game didn’t change from the original, so you cannot openly rotate between the three heroes on the stages. This, as well as the fact that the level design feels somewhat dated, cannot be considered negative. The time does change the perspective. However, I do not understand the need for online multiplayer. Sure, you can play as other characters and enjoy some horde mode, but I think it’s just as an unnecessary addition as Spec Ops: The Line’s multiplayer was eight years ago. Less can indeed be more.
I didn’t mention yet how the game’s visuals have improved, while it managed to sustain the cartoon’s style down to a tee. This is a strong positive. However, the bubbles’ effects felt a little low-quality in their textures. Did they run out of motivation? On console – on PlayStation 4 at least – the performance doesn’t seem to be stable-le-le. It does aim for 60 frames per second, but there are-e-e-e-e stutters. Also, textures can pop in, and you can also get stuck in the environment. Unfortunately, BfBBR isn’t that perfect. The controls, on the other hand, felt solid, and in this genre, having great controls is a key to be successful. I think you are not going to have any problems with the controls.
If nautical nonsense be something you wish?
The original of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated got 6s and 7s on a 1-10 scale in the past. Giving the remake a seven out of ten seems to be the reasonable score in my opinion. While it did take steps forward, it did take steps back on other aspects of the game. So the yellow sponge from the orange television channel still has a decent platformer, and since the original can’t be found that easily in 2020, the fans of the genre and/or the franchise should consider buying it. Maybe wait until a price drop, but then, I believe you wouldn’t be disappointed in the result. There’s also local multiplayer. Plankton is going to be defeated, as this is his destiny. The life’s law is that villains always get defeated and heroes always win…
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+ Updated visuals while keeping the style
+ The voice acting and the style is – mostly! – solid
+ Cut content
– Isn’t online multiplayer unnecessary?
– The performance feels weak on console
– The voice acting is a little lacking (or a little less than authentic)
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Release date: June 23, 2020