You have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of SpongeBob SquarePants. The show has been running since 1999 and is one of Nickelodeon’s biggest franchises. It has spawned several video games over the years, but one particular title that has remained a fan favourite is Battle for Bikini Bottom. Originally released on PS2, GameCube and Xbox Original in 2003, the game was a collect-a-thon 3D platformer that let you play as their favourite characters while exploring many of the show’s locations. In an age where many classic games are receiving the remaster treatment, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is not out of place and will appease fans of the show and 3D platformers.
In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, Plankton is up to his old tricks again to steal the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. The villain creates an army of robots to assist him in his never ending quest, but he accidentally sets the machines on a “Don’t Obey” setting. The robots revolt and not only kick Plankton out of the Chum Bucket and turn it into their headquarters, but also invade Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob becomes entangled in the event after discovering Plankton sobbing in front of his house. Plankton manipulates SpongeBob and his friends to defeat the robots and save the day.
The aim of the game is straightforward; you’ll explore different areas of Bikini Bottom while collecting golden spatulas. Initially you’ll only be able to access Jellyfish Fields, but the golden spatulas will unlock further locales from the show including Rock Bottom, Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy’s Mermalair and the Flying Dutchman’s Graveyard. Each area feels genuinely unique and is filled with plenty of references to the show. For example, Jellyfish Fields features a battle with a King Jellyfish. In Rock Bottom, when you approach a vending machine a cutscene plays which shows a random bus appearing then quickly departing, which was a gag in the episode of the same name. I admittedly haven’t watched an episode of SpongeBob in years, but because this is a remake of a game from the early 2000’s it only features references to episodes from the earlier seasons. It screams nostalgia and will appeal to both old and new fans alike.
Levels typically follow a linear path, are broken up into several subsections and have a set of challenges for players to complete to obtain those golden spatulas. Some challenges involve collecting a number of objects that are scattered throughout the level, navigating to a particular area, defeating a boss, beating a time trial or solving minor puzzles. There’s nothing too convoluted here, but keep in mind this is a family friendly title so it needs to be accessible to players of all skill levels. Levels also feature hidden socks which can be traded with Patrick in exchange for more golden spatulas. Shiny objects (they’re literally called that) are also littered throughout the area and act as the game’s currency. They can be traded with Mr Krabs for, you guessed it, more golden spatulas, but can also be used to gain access to off-limit areas by opening a door or building a bridge, etc. If you’re a completionist and love exploring every nook and cranny until you locate every last secret then Battle for Bikini Bottom certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Throughout the adventure, players will encounter various enemy robots which require different tactics to defeat. Some robots, for example, will be asleep and have a radius where they will detect players unless you sneak up on them. Others will launch projectiles at players, summon other robots to attack or will simply take multiple hits to defeat. The robots don’t provide much difficulty, but there’s enough variety in their strategies that it keeps combat feeling fresh.
Aside from receiving missions from various characters from the show, players will be given the opportunity to play as SpongeBob, Sandy and Patrick. Most levels allow you to switch between at least two of these characters and are designed to take advantage of their abilities. SpongeBob, for example, has the ability to blow bubbles that form bowling bowls and seeker torpedoes, as well as use his sneak ability to get past the aforementioned sleeping robots. Sandy uses her rodeo abilities to swing from Texas-shaped hooks using her lasso, which can also be used to temporarily hover through the air and whip enemies down to size. Patrick can body slam to stun robots and pick up/throw items. Players will find themselves switching between the characters frequently, which again keeps gameplay feeling varied and engaging.
One minor detail that could have been improved on in Rehydrated is the manner in which characters are switched out. Players can only switch between characters when they locate a bus stop in the game. It would have been better if players could switch between the characters completely on the fly. Also, this release isn’t without bugs and glitches. On a few occasions I somehow managed to get my character stuck between objects in the world and the only way to free myself was by restarting the game. There are also some animation and sound glitches, though post launch patches have thankfully ironed out most of these.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated features a brand new cooperative multiplayer mode where players battle a giant Squidward robot. You can team up with up to four players and battle multiple waves of robots on tiny islands before activating switches which damage the giant Squidward robot. The mode is a bit lacklustre as it’s focused solely on combat which, while fine in the main campaign, quickly gets repetitive in multiplayer. It’s also not uncommon for players to be spawned in areas their character wouldn’t normally be able to go, leading to another death and agonising wait for you to respawn again. Overall it’s an average inclusion that will likely be played once by most players before being forgotten entirely.
The primary change in Rehydrated is its updated visuals compared to the original release. Its graphics have been brought in line with modern games, making it vibrant and dazzling on modern TV screens. The visuals really capture the aesthetics of the show and are an absolute delight. The music is catchy and sets the tone for the vibrant 3D worlds you’re exploring. Most of the voice cast from the show reprise their roles in the game, though there are some noticeable replacements such as Mr Krabs and Mrs Puff. They sound similar, but it just dampens the overall experience a little bit.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a quality remaster. It takes a good game, gives it a fresh coat of paint and allows both old and newcomers alike to see what made it an engaging experience in the first place. As someone who never played the original and hasn’t watched any of the newer episodes of SpongeBob, it was an absolute joy to take a nostalgic trip to Bikini Bottom. The gameplay holds up well and will retain your interest from beginning to end, especially if you like collecting everything you possibly can. There are some bugs and old design decisions which hold the title back a bit, but these are only minor faults for what is an otherwise fun adventure with everyone’s favourite yellow sea sponge. Are you ready kids? Aye-aye captain!
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated was reviewed on an Xbox One X console with a review copy provided by Koch Media and THQ Nordic. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PC and PS4. For more information, check out the game’s official website.
- Nostalgic trip to Bikini Bottom with SpongeBob and friends - Vibrant, dazzling remastered visuals - Lots of variety in gameplay
- Some minor bugs and glitches - Some voice cast replacements - Average multiplayer mode