Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated (Phew. That’s a helluva title.) is a faithful remake of one of the best Spongebob games to ever release, but let’s be honest, that is not saying a whole lot. Spongebob games, like most movie or TV tie-ins, are basically watered down versions of better games that already exist, and what we are left with is something fun and playable but nothing to write home about. But does Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated break from that mold to do something truly special? Or are we just getting more of the same? Well, let’s find out!
The story of Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a fun one, albeit simple and to the point. The evil Plankton has built robots to destroy Bikini Bottom, and they must obey his every word and order. Unfortunately, when he began building the robots, he forgot to flip the “Obey” switch, and now the robots will not listen to him and have gone crazy all over the areas.
It is up to Spongebob and his friends to overcome the robot menace and save their home, but in normal Spongebob-fashion, such a task is never as simple as how it sounds.
Spongebob is basically running around doing task after task after task to collect items, information, and “Golden Spatulas” in order to get to the bottom of what is driving these robots mad.
Considering the age of the game, the story still holds up really well and is supported strongly by a great and varied cast of characters. There is a lot of silly humor that will entertain fans of the series, and it should be encouraging to know that the representatives of Bikini Bottom are scattered all throughout the game to assist any many ways and help further the storyline.
For a Spongebob video game, this is a great story that will hold your interest and make you laugh along the way. It is not going to win any awards, but it is perfect for what it is trying to achieve.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a 3D action platformer that plays very similarly to titles like Super Mario Sunshine or basically any 3D Super Mario game. Gameplay is relatively simple and straightforward: You need to collect golden spatulas which give you access to new areas to get more golden spatulas to access even more new areas until you eventually win.
It is an age-old formula that just works, so if it ain’t broke, then why fix it?
Obtaining golden spatulas is done in multiple ways, and each of the 14 areas in the game contain multiple golden spatulas that can be obtained in any order. In this regard, it is a pretty laid-back and flexible game, and it does not force you to follow a particular line. Quite the contrary, it gives you multiple directions and lets you choose your own path, which once again reminds me of many 3D Super Mario games.
One of the unique things about Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, though, is that you get to control more than just Spongebob. You take control of Spongebob, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks throughout the numerous areas, and you can change your character at bus stops scattered around. Each character controls differently and has their own unique abilities to help access different areas and items. Spongebob has a lot of bubble-laced moves that help him to attack enemies in front of him, above him, or even below him. Patrick is more brutish and can pick up items and throw them. Sandy, my personal favorite, uses her lasso to wrangle up baddies and even to help her float long distances as it serves as a helicopter rotor of sorts. They are all super-fun, and mixing things up keeps the game feeling fresh despite the limited moves each character has.
Combat is pretty basic, and there is no real punishment for dying. Most of the robots scattered around Bikini Bottom can be killed in one hit, but a few of them must be attacked from certain directions to be taken out. Clearly combat was not a high priority, but it is there and provides some entertainment while traversing from one area to the next.
Boss battles, however, are a lot of fun. Most of them feel big and will require some sort of gimmick to defeat. In some ways, the puzzled nature of figuring out how to take down a boss once again reminds me of those 3D Super Mario games where you should know how to do it, but it does take a minute to click. Battle for Bikini Bottom’s boss fights are no different, and they are truly the highlight of the gameplay experience.
The platforming, unfortunately, does not quite hold the same weight. Oftentimes, I felt restricted by the limitations in the game. There are invisible walls everywhere, and although there are clear platforms within jumping range, the game regularly stops you and resets your character back to an “appropriate” area. I understand that they want to contain the areas, but this felt more like a tease than anything else. The human hand that jumps on the screen greeted me way too often to pull me away and bring me back.
Jumping also can be quite problematic at times, and it has a lot to do with the combination of a free camera and fixed walls. All too common would adjusting the camera angle during difficult platforming sections result in devastating conclusions and needing to start the whole traverse over again. This was especially annoying when using Sandy and her lasso would not register with things that she is supposed to swing from. Not all of the platforming felt like this, but it did cause enough problems to be of concern.
The multiplayer, which can be played both locally and online, is a decent time. It is nice that the team added this to the mix, but honestly, you will not be spending a whole lot of time in this shallow horde mode.
The music and voice acting in Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is top notch stuff. The music simply takes notes from the episodes that they are stripped from and inserted into the appropriate areas, and it is a joy to hear the music and sounds of Bikini Bottom as you make your way through the game.
The voice acting, though, is on a different level. The entire game is voice acted, from the gameplay to the cut scenes, and it really makes for a significantly more enjoyable experience. Almost all of the voice actors from the show have come on board to contribute, and it makes for a much more authentic feel. Spongebob’s voice actor, Tom Kenny, in particular delivers an amazing performance.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
The remake of the original is a major improvement in many ways visually. All of the main character models look great, and the world of Bikini Bottom has never felt so well represented before. However, the Switch version definitely suffers from some problems, and it is quite noticeable at times. One character in particular, Bubble Boy, would randomly have major jagged edges and look super-pologony, and the underpants items, which regain your health, would do similar things.
The loading times, too, are excessively long, especially when you die and need to respawn at the previous checkpoint. Sometimes these loads would last a full 60 seconds, which really kills the momentum of the gameplay.
Speaking of checkpoints, I actually experienced a weird glitch multiple times where upon respawning, I would not go to the previous checkpoint but to some random place much further back. It was quite frustrating and did not make any sense.
Thankfully, the people at THQ Nordiq decided to sell Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated for $29.99 USD. Selling it for any more would have been a tough sell, but I think they found a sweet spot. This is a remake of a game that came out on the Gamecube in 2003, so charging a full retail price would have left a bad taste in fans’ mouths.
But for what you are getting, this is a great price. The game provides a good 12 hours of gameplay, and the story is genuinely a lot of fun. Despite some gameplay goofs and some visual oopsies, the overall experience is still positive, thanks to the stellar voice acting and episode-level quality story. It may still continue the trend of being a watered-down version of a better game series (*cough* 3D Super Mario games *cough*), but it is still good and a significant improvement from the original version.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Review provided by SwitchWatch.co.uk
Review also available on OpenCritic
Publisher: THQ Nordiq
Developer: Purple Lamp
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Price: $29.99, £24.99, €29,99
Game Size: 11 GB
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Audio - 9/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 7/10
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a lovely remake of an old Spongebob game. Despite its gameplay and visual flaws, fans will be stoked by the visual improvements, the excellent boss battles, and the actual cast of voice actors performing their roles. The price is near-perfect for what you are getting, and I definitely recommend the game if you are a major fan of the series. If you are looking for a solid 3D platformer, I would advise to look elsewhere.
- Characters and world look great
- Voice acting is top-notch
- Great boss fights
- Some visual problems on Switch
- Platforming issues