The lovable spongy icon of Nickelodeon has had his fair share of video games but it seemed that fans fixated their fandom to one singular game and that is SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom. Originally released back in 2003, Battle For Bikini Bottom had everything 3D platforming fans wanted; a solid soundtrack, great level designs, and just the right amount of collectibles. Fans weren’t expecting a remake to be announced in 2019, and since then fans have been eager to get their hands on the return of a relic of the past.
As per these remake reviews go, we will be dig through each bit to find out what the remake does right and what it does wrong.
Who Lives In A Pineapple?
So if you are unfamiliar with the extensive lore of the SpongeBob cinematic universe, I will take this moment to explain it. SpongeBob SquarePants is a Nickelodeon cartoon first airing in 1999 that follows our titular character as well as his best friends Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Squidward Tentacles, and a whole wide ecosystem of characters. In the show, SpongeBob finds himself (along with his friends) in all sorts of trouble or misadventures until each episode wraps up in comedic fashion.
The show has essentially grown to the point where the brand is so recognizable that it’s arguably right up there with Mickey Mouse.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom was originally developed by Heavy Iron Studios and published by THQ in 2003 and follows SpongeBob as he collects golden spatulas to foil Plankton’s evil scheme of building a robot army to take over the world and steal the Krabby Patty formula. Throughout the game, you switch between SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy to reach previously inaccessible areas with their unique abilities to progress further in the game.
The game saw mixed to average scores upon its original release, but a cult fanbase soon followed the game to this day.
The Secret Formula Was Gameplay
It’s hard to really describe how great SpongeBob feels in this game compared to other 3D platformers at the time. The game was more focused on traversing areas as a specific character in order to discover secrets rather than run and gunning through a location and then backtracking. Battle For Bikini Bottom has an almost pacifist approach to it where attacking enemies is almost not necessary to continue through the area.
SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy all have their own unique traits that make them all fun to play with. SpongeBob has the most moves with the cruise bubble, bubble bowl, sneak, and bubble bash, Patrick uses his size by carrying objects and body slamming onto the ground stunning enemies, and Sandy has a lasso able to one hit kill enemies, grapple onto hooks, and glide across areas for a limited time.
The game does a great job at making each character important while allowing players to switch between them at any time throughout the level.
In the remake the gameplay has almost entirely stayed the same which is a two way street. On one hand the movement and physics for most of the game is fun and consistent but as each level opens up allowing for the games cracks to show. Some levels still feel as imprecise and slippery as ever with several cheap deaths and makes you wonder if this is more of a remaster rather than a remake.
The only real inclusion to this remake is the new horde multiplayer mode featuring the previously cut Robo-Squidward boss fight from the original game. The multiplayer mode is enjoyable for what it is although there isn’t much variation making this more of a neat little add on than anything substantially significant.
Still A Little Krusty
SpongeBob has noticeably been rehydrated with a beautiful graphical upgrade making a previously dull and dark Bikini Bottom look like a bright and colorful seascape full of creatures. One noticeable thing I noticed was the lack of Mr. Krabs voice actor Clancy Brown. In Battle for Bikini Bottom Mr. Krabs is played by Joe Whyte who also voices Mermaidman. The developers cited that they wanted to keep things as authentic to the original as possible but In my opinion getting the actual voice actor to play his character seems like a no brainer.
In interviews the team at Purple Lamp and THQ Nordic mentioned how they want to keep as much of the original game as possible.
Martin Kreuch, CEO of the publisher THQ Nordic talked about the teams philosophy when remaking the game:
The team at Purple Lamp Studios was extremely inspired by the philosophies of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob. When updating the game, the team embraced all the wonderful little details that were already part of the original game, while at the same time adding little nods to the seasons that were aired after its release. Every aspect of SpongeBob that makes it the timeless, well-loved TV show and highly anticipated theatrical release that it is today is celebrated in the game!
The team lived up to their words by giving us several new idle animations featuring some shockingly well made references to some of SpongeBob’s best accidental memes along with a few visual references to past jokes.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a fun title to invest your time in. It is an incredibly faithful remake but there in lies one of the problems. The game decides to wear its mistakes like a badge of honor rather than fixing up several bugs and issues plaguing the original.
What you’re left with is a game that feels more like a remaster with a so-so multiplayer mode than a “from the ground up” remake that improves upon the original. You can still thoroughly enjoy the game as it is pretty short and the graphical upgrade easily makes this the definitive version but when asked the question “what if a remake was too faithful?” I’d have no choice but to bring up Battle for Bikini Bottom.