Are you ready kids? If you’re anything like me you automatically thought “Aye Aye Captain!” because SpongeBob inspired a generation of cartoons and their audience. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a modern remaster of the 2003 classic game that takes on the 3D platformer genre. The original version of this game made a big splash, but does it hold up?
Battle for Bikini Bottom is a 3D platformer rife with combat and exploration. Throughout your adventure in Bikini Bottom you’ll fight killer robots, sandboard down Sand Mountain, explore Jellyfish Fields and much more. You’ll take control of the titular sponge, Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks as you progress, each with different skills.
The game follows the Super Mario 64 formula of “find the shiny objects to advance”. You complete various tasks given to you by familiar characters and you are rewarded with Golden Spatulas, which unlock new areas. This formula is tried and true, but playing this game reminded me that this trend is an artifact of the GameCube era. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the people that played this game when it originally came out have grown, and so has gaming. Nostalgia is a big factor in this game’s appeal, but even without it (I never played the original), I had a lot of fun. There are a few quirks that show the game’s age, but these are few and far between.
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World / Level Design
Battle for Bikini Bottom takes place in various locations from the cartoon and each level has a variety of tasks to complete. There’s a good variety of things to do in each level and callbacks to the 20+ year history of SpongeBob spread throughout the maps. The levels are relatively linear but they’re big enough and have enough secrets to keep replay value relatively high. The references will make any SpongeBob fan happy, and the great level design will appeal to gamers whether they’re a fan or not.
Graphics / Art Direction
BFBB looks really good. The character models look much smoother and more crisp, the addition of grass and other aesthetic goodies makes for a much more full graphical experience. This is to be expected from a remaster, but they also still fall short of modern expectations: shadows and texts are blurry, erratic and pixelated, in dialogue the mouths and eyes of the characters still flicker wildly. The main purpose of a remaster is to capture the essence of the original in a crisp new wrapper. While THQ did a decent job with that, there are enough aspects of the graphics that feel straight out of 2003 to annoy someone who’s been looking forward to this game. Whether these issues are due to hardware limitations of the Switch version or if this appears in all versions I don’t know.
Most licensed games are tied to movies and slapped together to appeal to children and generally suck. SpongeBob isn’t immune to this trend: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie had a pretty lackluster video game adaptation that shoehorned the bland gameplay into a watered down version of the film’s plot. Luckily this isn’t the case with BFBB: the story doesn’t rely solely on the cartoon (although there are many references to various episodes) and is just as hilarious as its source material. I found myself laughing frequently and getting the warm fuzzies that only pure nostalgia can provide. Most of the original cast reprised their roles (RIP Tim Conway and Ernest Borgnine) which was a nice touch. The central plot revolves around Plankton failing at being an evil genius which in itself makes for a hilarious romp. All in all, the story is top notch.
Music / Sound Design
The music and sound effects are just as lighthearted and whimsical as the story. SpongeBob’s shoes make their signature sound with every step and Patrick’s jumps are accompanied by a deep drum sound. The neo-Hawaiian soundtrack is laid back and beautiful.
Final Score: 85%
Remasters and remakes walk a fine line: how do we improve the original experience while maintaining the same feeling and THQ seems to act on the side of caution, changing little besides graphics. While this is a valid choice, some of the odd dated aspects about this game will make gamers realize that their memory is skewed. BFBB is still an amazing game and on the cheaper side. A must for any SpongeBob fan and a good way for newbies to be introduced to the series.
Thank you for checking out our SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Switch review, thank you to Koch Media for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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