The cult-classic has been faithfully remade in all of its spongetastic splendor! In addition to high-end visuals, modern resolutions and carefully polished gameplay, players can look forward to all new content that didn’t make the original game release.
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Reviewed on: PS4 (Pro Unit)
Also available for: Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
Cast: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, Douglas Lawrence, Rodger Bumpass
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Game Director: Daniel Bernard
Lead Game Designer: Julian Breddy
Art Director: Stefan Krastev
Lead Artist: Targo Sirol
Lead Animator: Jurgen Koller
“Are ya ready kids?” When I was a kid these words would immediately get me out of my chair and ready to scream the response as loud as I could no matter how I was feeling at the time. This childlike delight is still featured in moments throughout the “Rehydrated” Battle for Bikini Bottom but it is often overshadowed by dated gameplay mechanics and almost insufferable load times. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated takes you back to the beloved 2003 adventure game where you take control of SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy as they fight through Bikini Bottom against the horde of robots, created by the mastermind of the Chum Bucket, Plankton.
Developer Purple Lamp Studios has done a fantastic job at making this game look modern and refreshing, you could almost even say rehydrated. Character models bring beloved characters to life and the environments are engaging to look at. From the streets of Downtown Bikini Bottom, the slopes of Sand Mountain and all the way to SpongeBob’s pineapple you will find a world that has been recreated with great attention to detail.
After my playtime with Battle for Bikini Bottom, I went back and looked over the original game and the difference is night and day. The vibrancy and the colour that has been breathed into this game is wonderful and fully brings through a style that is much closer to the TV show itself. Cutscenes and dialogue in this game often left me with a large smile on my face as it instantly took me back to how I felt watching the show in the early 2000s and the only character that felt out of place, of course, was Mr. Krabs. Normally voiced by Clancy Brown, Mr. Krabs is played by Joe Whyte to be in line with the original game from 2003 which also featured Whyte. Whyte is serviceable but against the known voices behind Spongebob & friends, he can feel like an imposter at times.
Sadly though the positives for Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated soon begin to run out for this writer. Though the cutscenes look and feel like the show, moment to moment character dialogue soon gets overused when adventuring through Bikini Bottom. After an hour or two of play, I could soon quote and predict the voice lines used by each character and found each line quickly becoming grating as I just wished for something new later in the game. The laughter quickly became sighs and the closing levels of the game lost some of their earlier nostalgia and charm.
Under the well designed new character models and the interesting environment designs still lies much of the dated gameplay and level design of the 2003 release which can be evidence of the rumoured rushed development for this title, make it look good and hope nostalgia carries players through the game which may be true for some. The 3 playable characters all feel clunky to control with character models not landing correctly on different surfaces or enemy characters. After spending some time exploring the levels it soon becomes obvious that the shiny new look of the world is superficial and much of the issues are still prevalent from the original outing of this game. The biggest problem that I found with this level design was the death zones of levels that were often not obvious. Several times I would jump to a platform that looked solid and just fall through it to my death. I would be pulled back to safety by the cut in the hand of the SpongeBob series which would be the only positive of these inconsistencies in level designs.
Death is a very frustrating and common occurrence in the rehydrated Battle for Bikini Bottom and often for frustrating reasons. Death planes such as water seem to follow no set of rules, sometimes you will bounce off them back to safety while others you will just instantly die. These inconsistencies continue throughout the game which leads to many confusing deaths for SpongeBob and his friends, and upon each of these deaths, you are presented with a 5 – 10-second load screen. There is nothing remarkable with the load screen and nothing to look at during them as they are devoid of any information other than the game is loading. Upon each death the level is largely reset with enemies, shiny objects and the world resets to its default state with puzzles that may need to be completed again.
The constant loads from random deaths in combination to the resetting of the world each time lead to levels feeling much longer than they actually are. Switching between the characters can be tedious as you are required to switch by attending various bus stops throughout the game. This especially becomes tedious when puzzles require you to switch between multiple characters to be able to completed which means multiple trips back to the bus stops. SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy each have their own variety of abilities and attacks but the majority of the game can be completed with SpongeBob unless there are character-specific puzzles in the level.