Title: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: 3D Platformer/Collectathon
If you were born sometime between 1990 and 2010, chances are a certain yellow sea sponge was heavily involved in your childhood. SpongeBob SquarePants was undoubtedly my favorite show as a kid, and though Nickelodeon may have let it run past its prime, I still consider myself a huge fan.
With SpongeBob’s massive success, licensed video games were a no-brainer. While most SpongeBob games are severely lacking in quality, 2003’s Battle for Bikini Bottom has been remembered for years as not only being a good SpongeBob game but also a decent 3D platformer in general. I have fond memories of Battle for Bikini Bottom, but some might say that nostalgia is playing a role in there. Now that THQ Nordic has remade this adventure with Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, its time to see if it holds up after all these years.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated sees Plankton, Bikini Bottom’s resident villain, creating an army of evil robots to take over the town. Upon activating them, however, he realizes that he forgot to turn on the “obey” switch, causing the robots to ignore their creator and run rampant through the streets. Plankton then tricks SpongeBob into thinking the robots are his fault, sending him, Patrick and Sandy on a journey to collect as many golden spatulas as they can to help defeat the robot menace.
When Rehydrated was initially announced, I was admittedly skeptical. Though I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite licensed games was making a return to modern consoles, I’ve been burned by cheap remasters before. One look at Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, and it’s clear that this is an old game, but the doesn’t hurt the overall experience.
What stands out the most here is the updated visuals. The entire game has received a complete makeover, and it looks fantastic. This is by no means a graphical marvel, but it looks leaps and bounds better than the original release. I was particularly impressed by the remade character models for SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, and the whole Bikini Bottom.
Seeing as how Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated was intended for children and is based on a cartoon, you won’t be finding a compelling story here. Still, it feels like it was ripped directly out of one of the better SpongeBob SquarePants episodes. Just about every interaction in Rehydrated made me laugh, thanks in part to the game’s fantastic voice performances. With the exception of Mermaid Man and Mr. Krabs, every character’s original voice actor returns to the game.
It’s clear that Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated was made with fans of SpongeBob in mind. The adventure is filled to the brim with references to the show, ranging from throwaway lines from the main cast to easter eggs hidden throughout levels. Each level itself is a reference to the show, with fan-favorite locations such as Rock Bottom and Goo Lagoon giving players a more in-depth look into SpongeBob’s world.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a true blue collection 3D platformer. The environments are flush with collectibles and things to pick up. Items such as “shiny objects,” Patrick’s socks, and golden spatulas are just the surface level of things players can collect. Finding everything is excellent for those completionists out there as each item found is one step closer to 100%.
The gameplay is split between three playable characters: SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy. While each character plays and controls mostly the same, they come with a few unique abilities. For instance, SpongeBob can throw a bubble bowling ball to hit enemies from afar, Patrick can pick up and throw items, and Sandy can glide with her lasso. Switching between each character to tackle puzzles helps keep the game from getting incredibly stale.
As I mentioned earlier, however, Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated shows its age over time. While it may have a shiny new paint job, this is still mostly the same game from 2003, meaning many of the issues from the original release are still here. For instance, puzzles and combat encounters begin to feel a bit too familiar after a while; there are only so many times you can throw fruit to press a button with Patrick or glide across a gap with Sandy before it begins to feel old.
The playable characters also have a few catchphrases that they say over and over again throughout the game that gets old quickly. Also, many NPCs who aren’t part of the supporting cast look off and just kind of stand around levels with no rhyme or reason. All of these issues aren’t major by any means, but they are constant reminders that you are playing a game from the GameCube era.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated’s marketing was full of nods to the fact that the remake features cut content from the original game and a brand new multiplayer mode. The multiplayer features a two-player horde mode and allows players to also play as Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Gary and Squidward.
Sadly, this mode feels unfinished. While I may have found the characters quips from the main campaign annoying, the complete lack of any dialogue in the multiplayer lead to deafening silence, reinforced by the lack of many sound effects. Seeing as how the mode is simply 27 small islands filled with enemies, it’s likely that you’ll get bored fast as combat is perhaps the most tedious aspect of the entire experience; all you do is button mash. While the multiplayer’s lack of polish is disappointing, you can completely overlook it, and you won’t really be missing much.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a must-play game for any fan of SpongeBob. Its witty dialogue and constant references to the show makes for hours of entertainment during every moment of gameplay. Looking past the aged mechanics and lacking multiplayer mode will provide you with a substantial 3D platforming experience, which is something that I can’t say we get too much of. I can only hope this quenches the series’ thirst so that we can get a much need adventure that only builds off the foundation that this game established so many years ago.
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