SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Platformer, Role-Playing Game
Platform: Xbox One, PS4
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 23/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Are Ya Ready Kids?!
SpongeBob SquarePants is a household name in entertainment today, not only due to the television series but also due to the associated video games, with Battle for Bikini Bottom being the most illustrious title of the bunch. Released initially nearly seventeen years ago at the end of 2003 for Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, and Game Boy Advance, the game has long-lived love lingering around to this day; therefore, publishers THQ Nordic and developers Purple Lamp Studios decided it would be keen to reinvent the game and bring it to modern consoles.
When the team behind this release says it’s a “remake,” that means the game has been completely overhauled, upgraded, and optimized from scratch for its new version (instead of a remaster, which is merely a polish of the original material). Since the initial announcement of the remake, there has been plenty of anticipation from both old and new fans alike, and the game has finally arrived for Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a role-playing platformer where the evil Plankton created an army of disloyal robots that invade Bikini Bottom and wreak havoc on the citizens. SpongeBob and his friends embark on a mission to stop and destroy the robots to save Bikini Bottom, set across many signature spots from the show such as Goo Lagoon, Rock Bottom, and the Chum Bucket in addition to more generic areas such as Jellyfish Fields, Kelp Forest, Flying Dutchman’s Graveyard, and more.
Aye, Aye, Captain!
The missions are rather straightforward and plain as a whole, typically to make it across the level, destroying robots, and eventually reaching a bigger enemy to take out (sort of like mini-bosses). Each mission rewards the player with a golden spatula, and each world requires a given amount of spatulas to start. Usually, there are a few missions within each world, with each world containing a few different areas, meaning that there is a fair amount of diversity in the game’s landscape.
Aside from the main questline, the player can also work to gather collectables such as the golden spatulas (there are one hundred total, and they’re not all necessary to complete the main portion of the game) or Patrick’s socks, some of which require extra thinking or later-learned moves to reach. There are also a few rare pairs of golden underpants which add an extra hit of health to the player, these being the most difficult collectables to find.
Gameplay varies things up a bit by having three playable characters – obviously, the main one being SpongeBob SquarePants, but also Sandy Cheeks and Patrick Star. Each character offers their own move set, with puzzles throughout the game requiring a certain character’s moves to complete; however, the player can only swap characters at a bus stop, which are few and far between, making it wildly frustrating to reach an area that requires a different character and having to backtrack just to change out.
It will seem too easy for some, but for a game that appears to be geared to kids, it might be more beneficial to offer a quick character change with a button on the controller. The game also welcomes unplayable characters that are notable from the television series such as Mr Krabs, Mrs Puff, Gary the snail, Larry the lobster, and more to help fluff the familiarity appeal of the game.
It is worth mentioning that there is a small bit of new content added exclusively for this version of the game, such as minor details and small adjustments cut from the original release. New players will not notice, but those who played the original should catch some of the changes and additions. The most significant piece of new content for this modern remake is the addition of a multiplayer mode, which can be played both online (public or private) and offline locally. Offering both competitive and cooperative modes, this multiplayer component is essentially a horde mode where players fight increasingly difficult waves of enemies, spread across varying islands to adjust the style of battle terrain, all with the ultimate goal of destroying a giant robotic Squidward boss.
One major drawback to remaking a game as old as Battle for Bikini Bottom is that many of the poor qualities carry over in an attempt to not stray too far from its original. Aside from the really cool graphic and visual upgrades (it looks killer in comparison to the original), there is a lot of stiffness still built-in like weird invisible walls where there shouldn’t be or even no invisible walls where there should be, odd difficulty spikes in a few specific missions, and major glitches such as getting a golden spatula and it not counting in the player’s total or getting stuck inside parts of the levels.
At times, it almost runs as if it were still a 2003 release remastered to look pretty. Not to mention, this game makes a player grind – one can collect a currency of sort called shiny objects, used to unlock specific paths in levels or to buy golden spatulas from Mr Krabs. For some reason, the game only gives these out semi-sparingly but requires vast amounts for the causes mentioned above. Eventually, players will have to run through levels multiple times to get as many as needed. It’s somewhat annoying, and a little daunting too.
Ultimately, upon further reflection after nearly perfecting the game, it seems as if there was not much genuine fun to be had. It would make sense for a kid to enjoy this release, as it will keep them busy for a very long time and it’s not overly complicated; however, as an adult, a game that was best enjoyed in 2003 wasn’t as enjoyable in 2020. Sometimes the feel-good nostalgia kicks in and makes it seem cool, but by the end, it felt like a lot of the aspects of the game were filler, which is a disappointing aspect only an older or more experienced gamer would genuinely notice. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated drops on the deck and flops like a fish…hard.