Now here’s a title that few expected a remake of. Everyone’s favourite talking sponge seemed to have really impressed fans of the series in Heavy Iron Studios’s adventure game SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom back in 2003. Now it’s been remade in a new and improved ‘rehydrated’ edition by Purple Lamp Studios, with improved visuals, new content, and more. While it’s a tad rough around the edges, it still proves to be a solid remake of a surprisingly entertaining platformer.
The nefarious Plankton is up to his usual tricks again (and why wouldn’t he be? He went to college, y’know). In an attempt to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula for his own restaurant’s gain, he creates a device called the Duplication 3000 in order to create a battalion of robots. Unfortunately, after leaving it on the ‘Don’t Obey’ option, his creations have decided to rebel, causing havoc all around Bikini Bottom. It turns out that the only way to stop them is by collecting Golden Spatulas scattered all across town, so Spongebob – along with his buddies Patrick and Sandy – sets off to save the day.
Compared to the original, it definitely looks better. This is due to its improved character models, radiant textures, and revamped animations that make each cutscene and dialogue exchange appear more slick and expressive than before. The Switch port in particular is not flawless, however, as it still suffers from a few visual issues like texture pop-up and a jittery framerate when too much action’s on-screen. Plus, it’s also nowhere near as shiny and detailed as the other ports out there. Still, it runs just as well in handled mode as it does when docked, so there’s not much else to grumble about here.
Far from it, in fact, as it still feels like a Spongebob game at its core. The quality of the writing and gags is on par with the show back when it was in its prime (it feels like so long ago), so you can expect more than a few funny lines to crop up. Thankfully, the vast majority of the original voice cast reprise their respective roles, and do a bang-up job, as expected. On top of that, the jaunty music and silly sound effects all feel more than fitting enough for such a title. To summarize, the whole thing is a light-hearted and upbeat experience through and through, as to be expected.
After exploring his own home, Spongebob and co. can explore many familiar locations from the show, such as the vibrant and dangerous Jellyfish Fields, the robot-ridden Kelp Forest, the murky depths of Rock Bottom, and more. These levels are all creatively designed, with plenty of platforming sections to traverse through and secret areas to explore. More often than not, you’ll need to hop across platforms that are suspended over deep drops or pools of nasty goo. Since these pools can instantly K.O. you, traversing through these dangerous environments isn’t necessarily a cakewalk, but it is still fair and fun.
The greatest thing about the level design is that there are plenty of reasons to go back and visit them. Provided you have enough Golden Spatulas to unlock new areas, you’ll meet characters like Mrs. Puff or Squidward, who’ll task you with side-quests to help you earn more of these. To be fair, some of these missions are little more than fetch quests, and the lack of a radar (or any sort of item-seeking equipment) to help you find these makes hunting them down a fairly lengthy chore that isn’t all that enjoyable. However, getting around each map is a breeze, as you can keep track of which tasks haven’t been solved in the menu, and instantly jump to said nearby area in order to complete it. It makes backtracking and exploration feel so much easier and more rewarding as a result.
In each area, there are tiki head crates. Some are basic wooden ones, while others may disappear or explode after a short while when you get close. Inside of these are ‘Shiny Things’, which is the game’s main source of currency. You’ll find and collect these in abundance, so opening doors and extending bridges in exchange for Shiny Things isn’t going to burn a hole in your pocket. That is, unless you’re giving them to Mr. Krabs, who’ll sell Golden Spatulas at extortionate prices. So, hey, at least they’re for an important cause. Patrick’s socks are another collectible type that you can find across each level – he’ll also give you spatulas for every 10 you exchange.
Spongebob can expect some resistance from Plankton’s army of rebellious robots. With each newly-explored area, a new enemy will be introduced, along with any relevant hints on how to defeat them. Some will charge in with stun rods, while others fire tartar sauce or summon lightning from above. The plentiful amount of health pick-ups (those being Spongebob’s tighty-whities) and the minimal amount of damage required to dispatch these foes helps keep things casual and accessible to players of all ages… unless you’re a game journalist. Bosses will also put up a fair fight, though these can usually be dispatched with a number of well-timed attacks.
Each character has a basic assortment of attacks, along with a few special moves exclusive to their character. For instance, Spongebob can strike enemies above him with his bubble helmet, while Patrick has the ability to throw items, like a block of ice that freezes goo pools temporarily. Meanwhile, Sandy is able to use her lasso to traverse across areas with floating Texas emblems, and can hover a bit before dropping. Thanks to the simplistic combat and controls, it’ll take minimal effort to get the hang of these characters. Once you unlock new abilities, you’ll be able to revisit previous zones in order to reach previously inaccessible areas to collect even more collectibles.
There’s a bit of new content that’s been tossed alongside, the most notable being a brand new coop multiplayer mode, optimised for local and online play. You must team up with a second player to defeat waves of enemies on small islands. Once you complete three of them, you’ll progress to the next. It starts off fairly easy and only gradually increases in difficulty. You can play as the main cast, as well as Mr. Krabs, Squidward, Robo-Plankton and even Gary. It’s simple but unremarkable, and you’ll struggle to find anyone to play with you online. Still, it’s a decent little romp if you’re playing with a young player, or are after a mindlessly casual romp with a buddy .
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a real splash. Despite its framerate issues and unimpressive visuals on the Switch, there’s bucketloads of joy to be had from exploring and revisiting the many locations on offer. Navigation is seldom a chore, and the combat is to-the-point and gratifying. Plus, it still retains the charm and soul of the source material, as well. If you’re a longtime fan or simply haven’t had the opportunity to play the game before, you can expect to have lots of F.U.N. in this remake either way.
Review code supplied by THQ Nordic.