Battle For Bikini Bottom oozes that late 90’s, early 2000’s signature platforming style. It knows exactly what’s it doing, and it’s so unapologetic about it – it’s really awesome stuff! That classic SpongeBob art-style, mixed with Heavy Iron Studios’ cel-shaded graphics scheme works really well in tandem here, and its hyper amusing to explore the integral locales of Bikini Bottom in a 3D, level-based structure.
Being released shortly after the classic Season 2 of the cartoon show, the humour was on high-display here as well, and I found myself unexpectedly cracking up at vast majority of the jokes. The main characters are faithfully represented here and don’t skimp out on any of the SpongeBob beats that we all know and love.
The original voice cast all reprise their roles too, with the exceptions of Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs and the late Ernest Borgnine as Mermaid Man. Both of these roles were voiced instead by Joe Whyte. He does a great job of voicing Mermaid Man, but I just can’t see anyone other than Clancy Brown portraying Mr. Krabs to the level of excellence that he does, sorry!
Jumping into the action; the game is represented in a segmented level structure, where you need to collect golden spatulas to progress. Being akin to iconic platformers, Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, there’s a heap of inspiration drawn from said material here as well. All the way through from ground pounds, to double-jumps and collect-to-mathons, you’ll find it present in Bikini Bottom.
SpongeBob and friends do have their own quirks that make them unique though; the titular character can roll into a ball for a quick burst of pace, Sonic-style, Patrick can produce shock-waves with a body slam that stuns all nearby enemies and Sandy can glide and swing across hard-to-reach areas with her trusty, Texan lassoo.
Like other platforming greats, there’s an abundance of tight, tricky jumping and acrobatics obstacles to overcome, along with a heap of different puzzles and contraptions to mess around with. All which imbue a sense of variety and intrigue, that’ll keep you hooked all the way through it’s 10-15 hour campaign. There was a specific puzzle in particular, that I was having a bit of trouble with in the Mermalair; where you’d need to roll a metallic ball from one section to another, in a dynamic switch activation sequence. It took me a while to initiate the process because I wasn’t too sure about how to activate each contraption. But once I discovered how each section worked, executing the whole sequence was a wholly satisfying, engaging brain-teaser that really tested my problem-solving and quick-reaction capabilities.
All three characters’ movement is really smooth and responsive, so any missteps or mistimings relating to traversal are pretty much always your own fault. There’s hardly anything that feels unfairly placed or cheap either, and acclimatising to their movement feels very natural. Jumps have a nice weight and feel to them and a shadow will form beneath the protagonists’ feet when landing on certain objects, for added precision.
The soundtrack just fits perfectly with the tone of this game. There’s a lot of mellow, ukelele inspired music and electric guitar-driven tunes for the more upbeat sections. All which reflect their respective themes and locations, surprisingly well! You’ll even catch SpongeBob dancing in time with the rhythm too! Neat!
So what’s new in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated? Well it’s a full-reconstruction of the original home console games, with redone graphics and art assets in 4K resolution, along with all 15 tunes in the soundtrack being completely remastered.
There’s a new horde mode available too, which features up to 2 players, online and off, battling out together against waves of enemies. You can select any of the three main leads to start, but they’ve now added in characters like Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Squidward and even Gary the Snail! All having their own unique physical attributes and movesets too. There’s also a Robo-Squidward boss fight in this mode,that was cut from the 2003 version.
Review by Anthony Culinas
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