Are you ready kids?!
When it comes to licensed video games, it’s no secret that the vast majority of them are just straight up, not good. Often produced under short development cycles, rushed to tie into an upcoming movie release or created as a cash grab, capitalising on the success of a popular franchise.
However back in 2003, Battle For Bikini Bottom released to mostly positive reviews and has maintained a passionate following since due to it not only featuring the world and characters of Spongebob Squarepants but was also a fun 3D platformer with faithful and funny writing.
Now almost 17 years on, the game has been remade for current systems and will reach a brand new generation of gamers (as well as a nostalgic hit for old ones) with Spongebob Squarepants: Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. But even though it’s taken a game we loved and brought it into the modern day with vibrant HD visuals, it also highlights how far game design has come since, especially within the platforming genre and faithfully recreates the same flaws the original had.
The game’s plot revolves around Plankton’s latest scheme to take over and cause chaos for the other inhabitants of Bikini Bottom. But when he mistakenly creates a horde of robots that don’t listen to his commands, it quickly becomes the job of Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy to travel through the many locales of Bikini Bottom to take down all of the menacing robots, beat some big bosses on the way and of course hunt down all of the hidden ‘Golden Spatulas’. Taking you on a fun and lighthearted 10-12 journey through Bikini Bottom.
As mentioned briefly in the opening of this review, Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is great when it comes to the visuals. The assets and character models from the original game have been completely recreated and where the original had a subdued, dull colour palette, Rehydrated catches the eye instantly with its bright and vibrant colours and varied environments.
Another area where Rehydrated really excels is with its sound design. The background music, character dialogue and even the rising bubbles used as a transition between zones puts you right into the world of Spongebob Squarepants. Fans of the series will certainly appreciate the attention to detail with the sounds within the world, even if they don’t realise it, it’s instantly familiar.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated allows you to play through the various zones of Bikini Bottom as Spongebob, Patrick and Sandy, allowing you to swap between the 3 by visiting bus stops scattered throughout the levels. There’s more to the game than just allowing you to play as your favourite character though, the game is full of character specific puzzles that need to be completed by a specific playable character to either unlock a hidden secret or progress though an area blocked by a barrier only a specific one of the 3 can remove. This means you’ll be switching between the 3 main characters on a regular basis to continue to progress.
Best of all, virtually all of the voice cast voice their respective characters from the show in the game as well. Unfortunately, when a character has had to be voiced by a fill in voice actor it’s incredibly noticeable and always sounds a bit off. Especially with the character of Mr Krabs, who unfortunately isn’t voiced by the incredibly talented Clancy Brown in this game.
Battle for Bikini Bottom is fairly kid friendly when it comes to the overall difficulty of the game. There are certainly some areas with slight difficulty spikes and some cleverly designed puzzles that a young audience may need help with but for the most part, the game knows who it’s core audience is and does a pretty good job at keeping them entertained and laughing.
Along with this, the game does away with ‘lives‘, meaning there isn’t really any penalty for dying other than having to wait through one of the game’s many load screens and being sent back to a previous checkpoint to try again.
At its core, the game is a 3D platform we and the platforming design ranges from clever and engaging to repetitive and plain. During moments that push the focus onto timed moving platform puzzles or shifting elevator platforms the game begins to show its age when it comes to design and highlights how far this genre has come in the many years since. it’s by no means dated to the point where I wouldn’t recommend playing it, but there are certainly times throughout when I said to myself ‘yep, this is a game from 2003’.
And much of this frustration with the game’s design is actually caused by Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated being such a faithful remake of the original. It has been remade from the ground up for current consoles but as it’s essentially a 1:1 recreation, it’s also brought along many of the game’s existing flaws too. The loading times are long and frequent, the checkpoint system is inconsistent in some larger areas in regards to where you reset to when you die and multiple times throughout my playthrough, I encountered a glitch that saw me falling right through the floor of the level , falling straight through the ground to my death.
Rehydrated has also added a brand new Multiplayer component to the game. And while I do appreciate them wanting to add some original content to jump into alongside the original game, I found it to be a mostly unneeded add on and I can’t see it having much longevity or drawing players into the game for the sole purpose of spending time there. The multiplayer mode allows multiple players to work together to take down waves of enemies in stages containing various obstacles and traps. While it is initially fun, it does get repetitive quite quickly and I find it hard to believe it will have people addicted to the point where they will come back to endlessly play it with friends.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a fun 3D platformer that is a faithful recreation of its original game. It’s visually eye catching and full of the quirky, clever writing fans or Spongebob come to expect but due to the design of platformers coming so far since 2003, the game does feel dated at times and should have implemented some quality of life improvements.
The game is well aware of its target audience and if you have a younger gamer in the home and are looking for something to enjoy with them I’d suggest that Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is well worth the pickup.
A PS4 review code was provided for the purpose of this review.
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