SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom Review

When gamers think of platforming legends, they look back on classics such as Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie and Rayman. Throughout the original collectathon era though, there was a series of games based on a beloved television series.

If someone mentions a franchise tie-in game, everyone’s immediate reaction is to wince. This genre has had a bad reputation and rightly so with some stinkers over its life cycle. Superman Returns, Quantum of Solace, and Fantastic Four are just a few that fit that category.

In 2003, developer Heavy Iron Studios created one of the exceptions by crafting one of the best platformers of the time. That game was Spongebob Squarepants: Battle For Bikini Bottom.

Luckily, Battle for Bikini Bottom delivers on that promise by the (chum) bucket load. Broken into several districts of the town, Spongebob and friends embark on a collect-a-thon that was common practice back in the early 00s.

Players will be gathering spatulas, shiny things and Patrick’s lost socks across many elaborate levels. It’s a weird collection, sure, but gathering the mass of items is perhaps one of Battle for Bikini Bottom’s greatest triumphs.

It’s also a tremendous joy to play. Platforming feels tight and precise, the puzzles and world design interact in a glorious gameplay loop, and the constant sense of progression is rewarding.

Combat is a bit on the weak side, with most encounters resulting in spamming the attack button or using the immensely overpowered butt bounce. Bosses managed to mix it up and provide some decent challenge too, but nothing too strenuous.

Most boss encounters will demand more than a simple spam and task players to complete a mixture of platforming and combat. They’re one of Battle for Bikini Bottom’s strongest elements and after a few fairly lengthy levels, make for a climactic ending.

New skills are fished out fairly regularly and often are used to incentives exploring past areas for new secrets. Also, Spongebob isn’t the only playable character, with others such as Patrick and Sandy tagging along for the adventure.

Playing as these characters can be tedious at times. Levels don’t allow you to swap on the fly and instead task you to track down a bus stop to change. It’s a minor annoyance at first, but quickly becomes increasingly more irritating as the play hours mount.

Your enjoyment of Battle of Bikini Bottom will revolve around either your enjoyment of the original game or love for the genre as a whole. For all intensive purposes, this is the same game that was originally released back in 2004 with the odd new touch here and there.

Perhaps the biggest new element is multiplayer, which also is the worst. Two players will complete in a horde mode across multiple islands in increasing difficulty. Respawns are unlimited and as it’s primarily based around combat, quickly becomes very repetitive. Jump in once and you’ll have had your fill.

The stunning visuals manage to elevate the world of Spongebob Squarepants into a beautiful update from the original. The colours reflect off the screen in wondrous beauty, truly invoking the spirit of the show.

The voice work is top-notch, besides a terrible Mr. Krabs who sounds like someone was just pulled off the street and slipped a fiver.

The music however is gruesome. Each replays on repeat bordering on giving your levels of insanity. About five minutes into Jellyfish Fields and I was ready to succumb to the stings of their tentacles.

They’re fine the first couple of times, but when your thirty minutes into a level and the song is a minute long, you’re in for a bad time.

Verdict: 4/5

– Reviewed on PS4

Battle for Bikini Bottom is like comfort food. It’s easy to indulge and uplifting in all the right ways. Like a childhood blast from the blast, it’s quickly easy to see why this licensed platformer became a cult-classic.

It’s hard to judge whether it will find an audience now. The platforming genre is gearing for a new renaissance with the upcoming Ratchet & Clank and Crash Bandicoot 4, but maybe this is should be seen as a love letter to a bygone era and transition from the old to the new.

It won’t win awards, you’ll move on fairly quickly after, but the adventure is fun, packed with heart and worthy of anyone’s time who loves the show or the genre.

THE GOOD

  • Beautiful remastered graphics

  • Wonderful level design

  • Constant progression

  • Dozens of hours to be spent collecting everything

THE BAD

  • Dull combat

  • Incredibly annoying music

  • Crash Bandicoot

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