Nearing the tip of SpongeBob’s journey beneath the ocean, you’re tasked with guiding a ball via a large Rube Goldberg machine in Mermaid Man’s Lair. Once you activate the machine you need to match the ball’s painstakingly gradual velocity whereas utilizing SpongeBob’s arsenal of bubble talents to ensure it doesn’t fall over. It’s a easy process in idea, however making an attempt to execute it’s a few of the most unfun and Sisyphean gameplay in latest reminiscence. In one part of the puzzle, all you must do is stand on a button, and that button opens a gate for you to bowl a bubble into so you possibly can progress. The solely downside is that in SpongeBob’s wind-up animation for bowling, he walks ahead. That means you fall off of the button, which closes the gate and prevents you from bowling the bubble the place you meant, while you meant. These sorts of gameplay barricades are widespread, and drive you to restart and face your demons once more, and once more, and once more.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated isn’t amusing or difficult, and finishing it’s a completely dry expertise. It seems good, and brings again fond recollections of a basic cartoon via iconic set items and tight voice appearing, however its uncomfortable and outdated mechanics make you’re feeling frustratingly trapped, and are finally outclassed by numerous different trendy and basic platformers.
SpongeBob is a present constructed on speedy-fireplace humour and good pacing, however this sport misses that mark. The sport is a remake of the 2003 cult basic 3D acquire-a-thon platformer of the identical title. There have been three variations of the unique: a 2D platformer, a 3D platformer, and one stuffed with minigames. This model took me round 20 hours to play via the principle story and get a bunch of bonus collectibles, and from the motion to the jokes–the entire factor feels gradual, with not one of the comedic timing that makes the present so beloved.
It begins off when Plankton by accident creates a military of uncontrollable robots that you need to defeat as a rotation of acquainted faces: SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks. The important menu is a hub world the place you possibly can choose phases primarily based on notable SpongeBob places just like the Flying Dutchman’s Graveyard, Jellyfish Fields, and Goo Lagoon. Your important goal is gathering Golden Spatulas. They’re littered all over the world and are used to unlock phases. You also can discover Shiny Objects and Socks which could be spent to purchase spatulas from Mr. Krabs or Patrick respectively.
Diving into the sport is thrilling at first. The Greater Bikini Bottom Area is fastidiously re-imagined right into a clear, revitalized fashion that’s popping with a brand new paint job. It seems shiny, however you need to marvel how vital the entire visible replace is when the unique doesn’t even look unhealthy. It’s obtained the identical voice monitor as the unique, with nearly all the voice actors from the present choosing up their roles for the sport, directing you round to numerous targets and making brief dialog. You can inform the voice actors try laborious to hold the expertise, however they will’t do this as a result of they’re solely given a number of canned strains that repeat time and again outdoors of the cutscenes. In a way, Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated capabilities as a SpongeBob museum, highlighting the environments that give life to the sequence. There’s a eager consideration to element in recreating the unique’s allure, which is completed properly, however this underwater world’s attract falls flat with out high quality of life updates that contemplate how otherwise we play right this moment.
After the primary few areas, exploring shortly turns into a chore. Some spatulas are thrown at you for doing nothing, and others really feel not possible to get as a consequence of unhealthy digital camera angles and unexplained programs that you just’re someway anticipated to know. Luckily there are a ton of useful present discussion board posts and walkthroughs for the OG sport that may information you thru essentially the most annoying elements. But that lack of consideration given to the spatula’s places is off-placing and causes the sport to start out dragging inside the first few hours.
Movement is simply as disagreeable. It’s a continuing wrestling match with mechanics which are each restrictive and awkward to a degree that they take away your focus from the present goal and makes you wish to put the controller down. Moving platforms are gradual, and you need to bounce on them typically. If you miss them you find yourself bored, sitting there, ready for the platform once more whereas an idle animation for too lengthy and listening to the identical brief music loop on repeat. Even should you just like the Stephen Hillenburg bangers, this will get annoying quick. Once you ace a transferring platform’s bizarre rhythms, it doesn’t imply it’s over. Sometimes there are robots positioned proper on the finish of these sequences which are too massive for your character to maneuver round correctly due to their lack of mobility. It simply feels merciless. It looks like your solely choices are to have SpongeBob attempt to bounce to a spot out of bounds and get escorted again to the stage by the enormous floating hand named “Hans,” or fall to the beginning.
…this underwater world’s attract falls flat with out high quality of life updates that contemplate how otherwise we play right this moment.
There have been a number of factors within the sport the place I climbed as much as the highest of a excessive construction and a rogue robotic knocked me all the best way down into water. Ironically, not one of the protagonists can swim, so I immediately died and respawned at a checkpoint. Having to start out throughout is actually deflating. I’m prepared to learn to excel with a sport’s controls even when they’re tough to understand initially, however with Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, it isn’t a matter of understanding the controls and abilities–it’s a case of the controls simply not working properly. It’s tremendous for video games to punish gamers for being unhealthy, however this sport simply feels continually punishing for no motive, and it doesn’t appear to note it or acknowledge it. Sometimes there are alternative ways to get to golden spatulas, however the sport additionally randomly blocks paths with invisible partitions, rendering your try and get there ineffective and telling you that your resolution isn’t proper. Walking into these partitions looks like a slap within the face simply for considering creatively.
The ranges revolve round strolling to recurring characters across the map, choosing up duties from them, combating robots, and swapping between two characters to make the most of their strengths and full the world. The loop could possibly be pleasing, however you possibly can’t run on this sport. Or dodge. Or swap characters conveniently. It’s grueling. You should stroll round slowly, combat nearly each robotic in your path (some areas are method too filled with enemies), and often transfer forwards and backwards to Bus Stops which are out of the best way 90% of the time for character swaps. The protagonists all have distinct play kinds that grant you entry to completely different elements of the maps–if SpongeBob can’t bounce there, then run over to a Bus Stop so you possibly can swap characters to Sandy and Lasso Glide over. But should you die, good luck preserving your cool. Deaths can really feel past unfair, restarting your progress to the purpose that you could be find yourself wanting into the darkish depths of the loading display screen abyss considering, “Why? Why me?”
The fleeting enjoyable I had throughout this sport occurred in the course of the boss fights. They wake you up out of autopilot mode by reworking the sport’s monotonous motions into one thing that calls for your consideration. Your colossal foes and the tips up their sleeves trigger you to start out excited about your actions fastidiously. The cutscenes earlier than the beginning of the fights are genuinely humorous, backed by an intense synth tune, and every battle is commentated stay by a speaking fish. These moments are a shiny gentle within the sport and make it really feel alive, simply for a second. It’s a delight to have the sport make you snicker at these factors, as a result of many of the different jokes within the sport simply don’t hit.
If you discover you continue to have fond emotions in regards to the unique SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, you must watch a speedrun of it or discover your previous copy and dirt off that PS2. This one isn’t it. Remasters, ports, and remakes are good as a result of they make video games extra accessible to new audiences, and those that excel perceive that some options from the sport’s period are antiquated and needs to be up to date or eliminated. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated flops like a fish out of water in the case of this. It’s a sport so centered on emulating and adorning the unique that it doesn’t know the elements of itself which are enjoyable and the elements that aren’t. It overpassed the essential parts that make a collectible platformer pleasing. This sport doesn’t promote curious or eager gameplay, the motion isn’t clean, and gathering collectibles by no means feels rewarding. Ultimately, the sport winds up being an disagreeable nostalgia journey that no one ought to pack their baggage for.