Title: SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Tilting Point
I wouldn’t consider myself to be a huge fan of Spongebob. I didn’t grow up with the cartoon, so there is little to no nostalgia that I derive from the franchise as a whole. When I saw SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, though, a morbid sense of curiosity overtook me as I felt an odd desire to see what kind of service I could receive at the Krusty Krab. Sadly, after tasting, I didn’t really care about the Krabby Patty secret formula or about ever playing this game again.
SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off is a port of a mobile title, which becomes immediately apparent if you have played any games on that platform. While the game’s title screen and artwork come off as genuine, they are sadly the only positive traits this game houses.
Cash-grab mobile games tend to have this inherently noticeable style of rushed dialogue with super-guided linearity that presents a barebones type of reward system. This game fits that bill to a T. There are occasional cutscenes featuring Spongebob series characters interacting, but these scenes are absurdly light in content and impact. Due to possibly wanting to pad out as much content as possible, these scenes go by in a flash and might as well not exist.
There may be a once-in-a-blue-moon entertaining exchange, but I sincerely doubt that anyone would be able to wholeheartedly enjoy them with a gameplay-loop this hollow. More than anything, these scenes feel extensively haphazard and low-effort to shamelessly grab the barest of the player’s attention through no effort at all.
Given this title’s mobile roots, that possibility seems more than plausible. However, this type of approach depicts itself as almost alien to what this platform should promote, with this now being on a console of all platforms. This game does not feel remotely natural on the Switch.
During gameplay, players are in the first-person perspective behind a counter serving various customers. This could be compared to games such as Cooking Fever, which seems to utilize the same principles. On its own, though, SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off does not feel like a game whatsoever. Not only is it seemingly impossible to serve customers the wrong dish, but there is also no agency in how one can play.
The entire gameplay loop consists of cooking food on the right, spreading whatever sauce a customer wants, and then handing out drinks that refill on their own. There is no sense of meaningful urgency to grant players a more thoughtful experience of approaching their cooking efforts. This empty loop rears its ugly head, not even a full 5 minutes into the experience. All of the levels quickly end up feeling the same, and once that feeling creeps in, that’s how you know you made a mistake with wasting your money and time.
I believe the only ways a player can actually fail objectives are if they somehow willfully let food burn or wait too long to serve customers. With how obscenely generous the time limits are for the former, I don’t see that ever happening to a player unless they’re just curious to see what happens.
I find it incredibly odd that there is no touch screen support while playing the Switch undocked. This would’ve been a no-brainer that would have potentially breathed some life and immersion into the mindless button spree, but I digress.
There are some upgrades players can purchase with coins earned from completing levels, but they are so mind-numbingly simple in implementation that they, too, feel like hollow steps of progression. Cosmetics are also obtainable, which are buyable with coins too. These look nice, I suppose.
If I could offer any advice, stay away from SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off. Its laughable $30 price tag had me thinking I was hallucinating as it is borderline robbery. These colorful visuals may catch the eyes of series’ fans, but it’s all a facade for a shallow and limited experience that is first and foremost a free-to-play mobile experience brought to Switch for a premium price.
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