Are you ready kids? Aye-aye! Spongebob is back with a completely faithful remaster of the classic Playstation 2 game. While the original was splashed with colour and fun, this remastered version is 100% faithful to the original, not offering many improvements over the last game, which really feels like a missed opportunity. Sitting at about 15-20 hours there is a sense of repetitive fun in the single player story with just enough Spongebob with to keep it entertaining throughout the campaign. Fans of the original game will delight in the lovingly crafted remaster that makes Spongebob and the world of Bikini Bottom look incredibly beautiful to watch.
The premise starts out as any usual Spongebob adventure does with Plankton creating a robot army to steal the recipe for the Krabby Patty and destroy Bikini Bottom in the process. Unfortunately for Plankton, he has left the ‘Don’t Obey’ setting on the robots and they revolt and start destroying Bikini Bottom, capturing Plankton in the progress. It is up to Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy to take care of the robots and ensure that the recipe for the Krabby Patty is safe from Plankton‘s grip.
What instantly stands out with this game is the incredibly detailed and beautiful graphics that offer up a feast for the eyes. Every frame pops with colour bursting with life on the screen. This is something that the Playstation 2 version sorely lacked. While it doesn’t match the 2D beauty of the original television series, the 3D model update is very close to the Sponge Out of Water film from 2015. Apart from the characters, the biggest improvement I can see is in the level design and buildings around Bikini Bottom. In the original game these felt lifeless as did the NPCs that inhabit the world. While there has been no update to these characters in form of speech, just seeing the beautiful addition to the world really helped the game come alive.
The game runs smoothly (I reviewed on the Xbox One X) and noticed no bugs, lag or frame rate dips during my playthrough. The biggest surprise was the loading screens, when you move from room to room or area to area there is a loading screen which presented a ‘What the?’ moment. Surely on the current console, a game of this magnitude should be able to go from one room to the next with no loading time, right? I was wrong. This was my only real gripe with the game, and it could easily just be a homage to the original game, which had the same issue.
At the core of Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, the gameplay is a platformer with simple controls and moves. The controls are a little touchy and jumping onto platforms, particularly as Spongebob, are fiddly to master. There are particular moments when you have to get around switches and Spongebob moves forward automatically, which it takes a bit to figure out how to get past. Any combo that required jumping and precision was best left switching to character Sandy to complete, while Patrick excels at speed based runs and tumbles due to his weight. Spongebob is best utilised for using the bubble wand and for speeding through catching collectibles.
The game doesn’t technically have lives. You have pairs of Spongebob’s underwear that you put on if you are hit by an enemy or robot. It is particularly amusing watching Patrick interpret having to put on Sponge‘s underwear (although the same lines over and over can get grating in the later parts of the game).
Most of the cast from the TV show and movie are here voicing their characters in fine form. Usually a game adaption isn’t able to pull this off and it can be hard to accept the new voice work. Tom Kenny (Spongebob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick) and Carolyn Lawrence (Sandy) all voice the characters from the TV shows and movies. What is noticeably missing is Mr Krabs who is voiced in the game by Joe White. While he does do an acceptable job, the nuance of the show and movie actor Clancy Brown is noticeably missing. This is something that would have made this remaster extra special.
I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the music in this game, which are nothing short of the most beautiful and addictive earworms that will stick in your head for days after you have heard them. I found myself walking about humming them and going back to play the levels again. It is worth noting that these have been updated along with the game.
At present, I am currently playing through multiplayer mode. There is a two-player horde mode which can be played online and couch co-op for up to two players. There are 26 different islands to explore and 7 playable characters from the Spongebob canon to choose from including the three main characters; Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy, as well as characters Squidward, Mr Krabs, Plankton and Gary.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is another example of a great remaster. While it isn’t on the same level as the recent Crash Bandicoot and Spyro remakes, the smaller price point totally justifies its existence. Fans of the show and movies will love experiencing an interactive long Spongebob episode. If you played the original back in the day, you will appreciate the extremely faithful remaster that this delivers. Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehdrated is a ton of platforming fun that offers enough to justify its low price point. Hopefully, the developers will get enough of an audience to possibly kick start a sequel and keep The Sponge alive in gaming form.
Spongebob Squarepants : The Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is available now on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Keep an eye out for the flashy edition with the Spongebob statue!