SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 12.08.2020 1

Review for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch

When the greatest 3D platformers are discussed, there are some names that will always top the list; names like Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Crash Bandicoot, and Ratchet and Clank. Following the success of Mario 64, however, there were a wealth of 3D platformers across all the consoles, so many in fact that there are "hidden gems" that loyal fans preach to this day were better than those mainstream titles. Case in point, Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom by Heavy Iron Games - a part of THQ at the time. This landed on GameCube, PS2, and Xbox back in 2003, and saw the team of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy facing off against hordes of crazed robotic minions. Now it's back, refreshed, and overhauled in the Unreal Engine 4 for all the current generation of consoles.

This is very much a collect-athon style 3D platformer. Starting off in the titular Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and pals have a set of 13 stages to explore, each with a bunch of collectables to track down. Scattered all over every stage are "Shiny Objects," the equivalent of coins or rings from other titles. There are thousands and thousands of these things, and they're used to unlock special parts of stages, these then unlock a different type of collectable - either Patrick's Socks, or the all-important Golden Spatula. These Spatulas are used as currency to open new levels.

Most stages have eight Golden Spatulas to track down, along with a variable amount of socks, and a separate stage-unique collectable such as snowmen on a mountaintop, or paintings in an art gallery. Ultimately, everything that isn't a Golden Spatula, leads to a Golden Spatula. Finding all six unique collectables can give a Sock. Collect 10 Socks, give them to Patrick and get a Golden Spatula. Collect all the Shiny Objects, give them to Mr Krabs in greater and greater amounts to get Golden Spatulas. Pretty standard collect-athon design, with plenty to do.

Screenshot for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch

There's a decent range of designs to the stages. From the dark underbelly of the Kelp Forest, to the Batcave-Esque Mermalair, home of the elderly Mermaid Man and his senile sidekick Barnacle Boy. Things get completely nuts on the 'Spongebob's Dream' stage - flying through the air within the minds of some of the series characters. Of particular note is Squidward's dream where Spongebob had to undertake some challenge platform sequences, jumping across musical notes in the sky under the watchful eye of framed Squidward photos made up of some of the famous memes of the series. There are also giant boss encounter stages against kaiju-sized robotic versions of the heroes that are accompanied by a photorealistic fish in a headset doing play-by play commentary.

The 'Spongebob's Dream' stage is one of the few challenging parts in here. There are a handful of other stages that have the same sort of downhill slope riding, and the odd tricky jumping section for Sandy, but overall, this is a very simple game and clearly aimed at catering to every fan in the audience. It's not much of a negative, as this is certainly meant to be for younger fans, but for returning players who remember the original fondly, it's worth knowing that there's little challenge to be found here.

Screenshot for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch

Anyone who has played a 3D platformer in the seventeen years or so since this originally launched will know what to expect with the core of the gameplay: jump around collecting stuff. Mostly while playing as Spongebob who has a double jump, can turn into a ball like he's Samus, and roll along, throw a bubble like a bowling ball to hit switches, or even fire controlled bubbles. Each stage has a bus stop or two somewhere that can be used to switch characters, to a Squirrel named Sandy who has a Texan drawl and a lasso to hover through the sky with, or to the Lennie Small reminiscent Patrick who can pick things up and throw them. The unique character abilities needed to solve simple puzzles and grab more collectables.

The graphical overhaul here is hugely impactful. Compared to the original, it looks insanely bright and colourful. Breathing fresh life into a 17-year old title. While the presentation looks great, the underlying stage design is very poor. The stages are not surrounded by walls, but venture too far out, and a photo-realistic hand will pick up the collapsed Spongebob and place him back onto the level. There's often nothing to identify where the end of a stage is, and this little "feature" is especially annoying at points. Then randomly there are also invisible walls blocking the way here and there…

Screenshot for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch

Fitting with the dated aesthetic, this decided to bundle in a new horde mode. Those who haven't played the original would be forgiven for thinking this is something that existed then. It's awful. Just wave after wave of enemies on changing stages with little that change things from the combat seen in the regular game. This is where usually a mode would add power-ups, unique bosses, and fun new experiences. This is just completely unremarkable, and really not worth even playing through.

It's a shame that the extent of this remaster is a graphical one. There are some deep flaws within that could and should have been ironed out in this recreation. The invisible walls and stage design; the need to backtrack to a bus stop every time to switch characters; or the terrible implementation of some puzzles, like the horrific rolling ball puzzle in the Mermalair - but of special annoyance are the loading screens. These are obnoxiously pervasive. Not just on entering new levels or even areas within levels either, but in the many downhill race sections and jumping moments where a fall requires a restart, and can take a few seconds after every failure. Very frustrating.

Screenshot for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

A perfect example of nostalgia glasses. In short, this may be a hidden gem, but it is completely representative of its time. 2D Platformers have long moved on, and this deserved some overhaul to the core gameplay, instead of just a graphical improvement and a tacked-on multiplayer experience. The soundtrack is a perfect encapsulation of the game as a whole. Utterly charming for the first few moments, but then each track repeats again. And again. And again. One note. Those who enjoyed the first may find themselves questioning why they did, should they dive into the murky waters here.

Developer

THQ

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Quality clearly hasn't trumped the brand name as this has just passed the million mark, apparently Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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