Report Card: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated (Review)

Many cartoons have attempted to find ways to entertain adults while keeping it clean for children.  Animaniacs was an early adopter of this form of entertainment by adding in relevant political jokes into the zaniness of the show.  In more recent years, SpongeBob SquarePants has been the king of making a kid’s cartoon that also entertains adults.  I really can’t explain how it does it so well, but I have known many adults that are more than happy to have their kids watch this show while they are around.

My personal history with SpongeBob is a little light.  My kids never really got into the show, and quickly moved on to preteen dramas or YouTube.  When I was around to catch an episode or two, I always laughed.  Once again, I cannot quite put my finger on what it does so well, but that does not matter.  What matters is that the show is actually funny for kids and adults alike.

Here at Mega Dads, I’ve become the one to review the strange games no one else wants to.  When SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated came up for review, I jumped all over it.  I had never played or even heard of, the original game that came out on all the consoles in 2003.  So, with little knowledge of SpongeBob, and no history with this game, I dove in blind.

The story within the game is really not important.  Basically, Plankton accidentally brought a bunch of evil robots to Bikini Bottom and SpongeBob must get rid of them.  Each level is full of these robots and the story progresses as you move from one area to the next.  The humor of the game does not lie in that story, but in the interactions you have with the NPCs. 

I must continue to point out that I know so little about the world of SpongeBob, which meant that all the characters are new to me.  Throughout the game, I met Patrick (SpongeBob’s best friend), Gary (a pet snail that says Meow), Sandy Cheeks (a name that cracked me up every time), and a number of random NPCs that had had tasks for me to complete.  My 9-year-old son had to tell me who all these characters were.

SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick are the only playable characters in the game.  Each has their own abilities that are required to complete tasks.  It was never difficult to figure out which character was required when.  Any time I needed a different character, a bus stop was nearby to help me swap.

I have a feeling I missed out on some of the jokes due to not knowing the show, but I did laugh quite a bit.  My wife watched me play most of the game and even she was laughing at the stupid jokes.  Most were just ridiculous ways SpongeBob reacted to other characters.  My favorite joke was right at the beginning.  SpongeBob wakes up and something wrote “Your bikini bottom stinks” on his wall.  That one really got me.  All in all, the humor alone is almost worth giving this game a playthrough.

Humor rarely is enough to make a game worth spending time on.  The gameplay must be solid as well.  SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a platformer with aspects similar to that of Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie.  The platforming gets you from one location to another, but your goal is to find Golden Spatulas.  Just like how Mario must have enough stars to open new levels, SpongeBob must have enough Golden Spatulas to progress. 

Some of these spatulas are randomly placed throughout levels.  Some are gained by completing tasks, with weird backstories, for characters in the world.  One nice thing about the game is that you do not have to restart a level for each spatula.  You can just find them all in one go.

For the most part, the platforming in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is pretty solid.  It was pretty rare that I felt like my missing of the landing was the game’s fault.  My greatest criticism of the platforming is not being able to keep the camera looking down at the character while making jumps onto small platforms.  The characters have a shadow that helps line up a landing, but it is not always good enough.  Beyond that, all I can say is that the platforming is well done and rarely very difficult.

Jumping from one place to another is not the only way to get to a new Golden Spatula.  The game developers decided to throw in sliding, and I must say that I approve.  The slides are full of obstacles, gaps, and enemies.  Each of these can throw you off and send you back to the checkpoint.  The slides get extremely difficult by the end, but, as with the platforming, never felt unfair.

After you start a level, you can go back to it at any time.  This is helpful because you are not able to get all the spatulas at the beginning.  As the game progresses, SpongeBob gains two powers that are required for combat and some spatulas.  One power is bowling with a bubble.  It sounds a little dumb, but it is actually fun.  The other power is a guided bubble missile.  Once I learned how to use it, it became the most useful attack in the game.

There is one more major gameplay aspect to SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated.  This game has puzzles.  There was not a lot of them, but each one was challenging.  That being said, I was able to get through most of them with just persistence and luck.  Even if they were not the best puzzles, I always enjoy it when a game adds them in.

The individual levels do not have their own boss fights.  Instead, the bosses pop up as you enter new areas in Downtown Bikini Bottom.  As expected, each boss follows a pattern of attacks.  You learn the patterns and defeating them becomes relatively easy.  This is not to say I didn’t fail plenty on each boss, but none felt too difficult.

What was really cool about the boss fights is that you would have to play as different characters at different times.  Each part of the boss fight would focus on the specific ability of the character you were using.  During the later boss fights, you had to use the special powers that SpongeBob gained.  These might not have been the best boss fights, but they definitely used all the abilities the characters had to offer.

I knew going in that I would not find everything in the game.  My goal was to find enough to keep progressing and see what the game had to offer.  Granted, early on, I did get hooked on finding more and more of the spatulas.  I did not find the game difficult, so going after hidden spatulas added to the fun.  As I dove into the later levels, the difficulty increased at an alarming rate.  I found myself barely being able to survive, much less find all the spatulas. 

The bottom line is that the game is ok.  You can definitely find better platformers.  You can find better games that have you search and find objects.  You might even be able to find games that are more humorous.  SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated does all those things well, but not the best.  I believe that the mixture of these aspects, especially the humor, makes the game worth playing, but do not feel like you need to rush out and buy it right away.

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