It is 1996 and Rockos Modern Life has just been cancelled. Stephen Hillenburg finally decides it’s time to release an idea he has had storming away for nearly a decade. 1999 rolls by and SpongeBob square pants is released on Nickelodeon, and the series never looks back. 21 years later and an estimated revenue of over 13 billion dollars tells us that it’s here to stay. But what does this have to do with gaming you ask ? its 2003, you are sitting in front of your CRT TV and you hear your mum come home with a new game from blockbuster. It is SpongeBob square pants, battle for bikini bottom.
The game was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube consoles as well as separate versions for Microsoft Windows and Game Boy Advance. While the versions released for consoles were a 3D platformer, the Microsoft Windows version of the game is a mini-game compilation, and the Game Boy Advance received a 2D platformer version. I personally remember the PlayStation 2 version; this was two years into one of the highest if not the highest selling consoles of all time.
The simplest way to explain the story is plankton trying to ruin the Krabby patty and everything else has gone and created an army of robots, the only problem he loses control of them and they overthrow their master. To SpongeBob, it means finding golden spatulas and lost socks for Patrick.
The series' voice actors reprise their roles, with the exceptions of Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs and Ernest Borgnine as Mermaid Man, with both roles instead being voiced by Joe Whyte. The game was released on October 31, 2003, in North America and in Europe on November 28, 2003.
Although becoming a major commercial success, Battle for Bikini Bottom received mixed or average reviews according to Metacritic. Edge included the Game Boy Advance version on its list for top handheld video games of the 21st century. The game has since also gained a cult following and a large speed running community presence, which I can by the end of writing this review, guarantee I will not be entering in my speeds that is for certain.
Now fast forward 17 years. Your walking through your local gaming shop and all of a sudden you see a family picture; your nostalgia starts playing tricks on you.
A remake of the home console versions, titled SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, was released on June 23, 2020. It was developed by Purple Lamp Studios and published by THQ Nordic for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. It includes a multiplayer mode and cut content from the original game.
Now I want to start this off by saying - this is one of the hardest reviews ever done, why? one word.
This is something that can make or break a gamer, memories are a fickle beast, somethings that were not truly great are remembered as perfection, somethings that were remembered as perfection weren’t truly great. so, who am I to judge your nostalgia, your outlook on childhood memories, if you take away the complete nostalgia and base this game purely off what it is a 3D platformer, then maybe it might not be something to write home about. Not as a full-grown adult anyway can't comment as I personally spent most of my childhood years watching Nickelodeon, laughing at SpongeBob, Patrick, sandy the squirrel, the list goes on.
As I play the game I’m torn, is this a memory, a feeling that should have been left behind and remained as gaming history. My short answer, NO. Being in my mid 30's with children now of my own, I get them to play the game, I fire up some YouTube videos of SpongeBob and introduce them to the characters, I actually shake my head in laughter at the hidden adult humor in some scenes. This is a moment I will cherish; I truly believe this is what gaming is all about. To me anyways, passing the mantle on to my children, showing them no matter how dark and bleak the real world can be, we have cartoons and gaming to pick us back up.
As I go to take the controller back my daughter pulls it away. The other bellows out in perfect pitch “sponge bob square pants” and I realise there must be some magic that works in the child’s mind with SpongeBob and gaming. Because mi not getting the controller back, as I watch them struggling through the levels I realise that it’s a different style of game than what I’m used to these days, we weren’t spoon fed, we had no arrows on the map showing where to go. One simple part where you need to stun a robot and then throw it at another has them completely stuck, I puff out my chest and reach for the controller and say ‘pffft come on girls, let a real gamer have a go” minutes go on, heart rate is slowly rising my daughter asks ‘ are you ok dad “ as she can see I’m getting frustrated, stuck on what to do. I just shake my head and hide behind a smile pretending I’m just having fun but deep down the spoon-fed gamer is crying out for help. Finally, I realise , double jump belly flop kills the robots, a single jump bomb dive stuns. Something so simple that would normally be explained in gaming these days gives me an enormous sense of achievement. I show them what to do and they look at me in Awe. For maybe 1 second and then return to the game, I shut the laptop and realise I’m not going to get the review done tonight. It is a father , daughter night.
NOSTALGIA. how can I review that ?
I mentioned earlier about multiplayer. This is obviously a new entry into the game, you can either play online or split screen two player, the players have 7 choices from the regulars of the show. SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Robo plankton, Gary, sandy and Mr. Crabs. Of course, I pick Gary ( who doesn’t love Gary) my daughter picks sandy. Here I am getting ready for a Tekken style fighter, thinking maybe a battle royale style game. But were teleported to an island with a massive robot style Squidward, lobbing robots at us to fight. What starts as some simple fun, points allocated to the player who destroys the robot, quickly turns to a frantic button bashing, underwear tearing madness ( your undies are lives in the game ) and it has us all in stitches from laughter. By the end of the review I think about the online feature. Is it truly needed ? no not really, the game itself supplies you with an abundance of fun. But truly it is a nice new touch that on the split screen helped this dad bond with his daughters long after bedtime.
But it’s time to put the controller down and fire back up the laptop and finish this review, the girls are muttering hit sayings from the game in the background instead of sleeping and I’m not even mad. A smile crosses my face.
look as a standalone game its actually not bad, it’s a remaster version of a nearly 20year old game with a new twist with multiplayer content, new cleaned up graphics, sounds etc. I challenge anyone to sit there and not below out 'SPONGEBOB SQUARE PANTS " when the tune gets played on the game or laugh at Patrick’s antics.
So, all in all, I want to say thank you to THQNordic, they have helped deliver a childhood memory to not only myself, but the future of gaming. My children.
thanks for reading and hope you all enjoy.
It Will Never Be Game Over, Gamerz Gotta Game