SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated (REVIEW)
One thing that seems to be missing from the world of video games is pure fun. Yes, there have been games like LittleBigPlanet and others that have filled the void, but during the days of the PS2 those games, we're very easy to find. There was one game though that has been talked about for years because of its simplistic button smashing fun and that is SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Today, we will talk about what Purple Lamp Studios have done to make this one of the best looking remakes to come out in recent years. Are you ready kids?? Let's Dive In...
WITH IMAGINATION A REMAKE CAN LOOK GORGEOUS
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom was originally released in 2003 for PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and other platforms native to that generation. In Battle for Bikini Bottom, you play as SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy as they take on Plankton yet again. Plankton has "accidentally" released evil robots and it is your job to take him and his minions down for good. While I didn't play the original when it first released, this is a funny and wild game that all fans of the show would love. Right off the bat, you are transported into the wonderfully wacky world of Bikini Bottom. After going through a small tutorial that makes you explore your house, you are let free to smash and collect as you run into certain familiar characters from the show.
Once the game takes off you face many enemies big and small who aren't that much of a challenge. With just a few hits, most enemies will be out of your way and you're back collecting and exploring the world. Of course, things do get a bit more challenging when fighting the crazy robot final bosses. These bosses are Robo-versions of your friends and is a fun and comical moment in the game, but still pretty simple to beat. The combat is simple and very easy to learn...but with simplicity at hand, there is something I wanted to make very clear, the game is honestly pure fun. What made this experience so fun for me was playing it with my 3-year-old watching, the laughter and constant "Run Spongebob!" really made me think about how beautiful, innocent childhood is. This is something I think Spongebob is the embodiment of and is something we need more of in the world today.
For my daughter, she thought that the game she was watching was real, commanding me to get the robots, catch the jellyfish, and talking to characters in the world. As we sat together she gazed in wonder at one of her favorite shows come to life on the big screen and I was filled with joy to play this for her. Once we were done, she told Spongebob "Goodnight, I'll play with you tomorrow ok?" and that just got me.
Purple Lamp Studios and THQ Nordic could have easily just slapped a new coat of paint on this game and called it an HD remake, but no, they brought it back to life. The world is bright and vibrate, every nook and cranny looks like it's ripped right out of the new style of the series. Some may say they should have left certain aspects of the original as is like the changed wall pictures, or certain animations the characters made, but for me, this just goes to show how much the dev-team cared about bringing this cult classic video game back for its fans.
Exploring locations like JellyFish Fields, Kelp Forest, and even the Flying Dutchman's Graveyard was a wonderful experience. This, of course, brought back memories from watching the show but also gave you a chance to see how much work Purple Lamp Studios put into making this game a crowning achievement. Mind you, this studio has only (with Battle for Bikini Bottom included) 3 games under their belt, 2 of which were smaller titles. It helped that the Unreal Engine was used in the development, making the lighting and color pop, as well as making the characters look very close to how they do in the show and the upcoming movie. Though this was a fun game, there were a few things that seemed a bit off about this experience and felt like it was done by a Goofy Goober.
I DIDNT "FIRMLY GRASP" ALL OF THIS WORLD
Despite my daughter's love for this game, Battle for Bikini Bottom isn't entirely and updated experience. Aspects of the remaster felt stuck in 2003. Most notably in the sluggish button/combat mechanics and the overall pacing of the game and its story. Don't get it twisted, it was still a fun game, but more of a PS2 kind of fun.
I also believe that Battle for Bikini Bottom would have been even better with an added co-op mode. Though they didn't offer this in the original, I think co-op in these types of games is needed, and wanted by many fans. Instead of a co-op mode, a new horde style multiplayer mode was added and to be frank, it's just straight-up not interesting. The goal in this multiplayer mode is for you and a friend (local or online) to take on hordes of enemies and evade being knocked into the good. This mode was switched to a top-down view instead of doing split-screen, but I cannot say I enjoyed it. I just look at this like a lost opportunity, it would have been much more enjoyable to have a co-op mode in the game, even if you could only play the base version of the level, I think it would have been a much nicer shiny object than the multiplayer.
Something else I couldn't just let slide was the bugs I found in the game. There will always be bugs in games and I completely understand that but there were at least 4 to 5 times that the bugs happened and items would disappear on the screen, multiple times I was able to walk past the level-barrier and look at unfinished areas of the game, and I also found myself falling under the lever a few times after hitting the goo in a certain spot on JellyFish Fields.That said, when these glitches happened, it didn't stop me from having fun in this goofy video game world.
The nostalgia you get from seeing locations in Bikini Bottom or even seeing your character do one of the many favorite memes after standing still was just great. It's the small details that matter with this game and I feel that Battle for Bikini Bottom does a great job waking up the child in all of you and making us realize we need to stop taking things so seriously and just have fun. So many games have those very serious dark tones now and in the current state of the world, we need a little no care fun.
When I first sat down for SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, I thought I wasn't going to enjoy the game, but man was I wrong. This game is what having fun is all about, revisiting the beautiful world of Spongebob with my daughter watching sealed the deal for me. There is nothing more beautiful than childhood imagination and just seeing her reaction to the game made this the perfect game for my family. There were a few problems with this title like its dated feel, bugs, and the multiplayer being dual, but outside of that, SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is still a really fun remaster to play, if it's your cup of Kelp Soda.