SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
I'm not pulling your leg. I really mean it. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is actually quite a bit of fun to play. Yes, I'm talking about the rectangular chunk of animated sea sponge that wears pants and has an insanely irritating laugh. The same SpongeBob SquarePants whose very name I macroed just so I wouldn't have to keep typing his impossibly long name.
The latest game based on the Nickleodeon Porifera uses graphics that rival the shows animation, music and voices straight out of the cartoon and a plot that manages to capture the playful irreverence that makes SpongeBob SquarePants a guilty pleasure for parents everywhere. The game opens with Plankton creating an army of robots to serve his evil bidding, but of course he forgot to flick the obey switch when they were created. Now it's up to SpongeBob to destroy the robots, completing side quests and collecting shiny things and golden spatulas along the way.
The game plays like your basic 3D action game with a fair mix of platforming thrown in to keep things interesting. You start off controlling SpongeBob, but early into the game you're able to switch off to Patrick the starfish and eventually Sandy the squirrel. Each character has there own special attacks and general movement advantages and weaknesses.
The game is set up around a central location with side maps that sort of radiate from the hub. To get to these other locations you have to find golden spatulas, typically spread throughout the levels. There are 10 fairly large 3D maps to explore in the game and tons of hidden goodies and bizarre power-ups.
It's surprising how well crafted the game is, especially taking into account the subject matter. The folks at Heavy Iron Studios could have easily scrimped on graphics and sound, opting instead to ride the popularity of the show. Instead they have created a game that is really a lot of fun to play and even funnier to watch and listen too.
If you're a fan of SpongeBob or action games, then run out and buy Bikini Bottom. If nothing else you'll get a few chuckles out of this well crafted game.
Download SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom
SpongeBob SquarePants is an odd television show. Not just odd, really odd. A cartoon show based on a yellow sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea doesn't sound like an instant hit to me, but you can't argue with its success. SpongeBob makes his debut on the GameCube in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, a game about a yellow cube on the Cube' how appropriate.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is aimed at the SpongeBob crowd, which is namely kids. However, one of the charms of SpongeBob is that the show has broad appeal that can reach any adult with an off-base sense of humor. And that's why it's fortunate that Battle for Bikini Bottom retains all that's great about the show: the off-base humor, the wacky locales, the eccentric characters, and so much more. Even if the actual game isn't your thing, you'll be hard pressed to not at least chuckle during one of the many funny moments you'll come across while playing.
Combining a popular television character with a platform game is usually a recipe for disaster, but Bikini Bottom somehow avoids the inevitable. At it's a core, Battle for Bikini Bottom is about collecting shiny objects. Lots and lots of shiny objects. Been there, done that right? This would usually be a big downfall for any title, but it never feels like one huge collect-a-thon since the puzzles are interesting and the platforming elements are implemented really well. More importantly, the sheer variety of gameplay keeps things fresh throughout the entire game. While SpongeBob fans will certainly eat this up, you don't have to be familiar with the porous sponge that lives in a pineapple under the sea to enjoy Battle for Bikini Bottom. The game is fun in its own right -- the well-used license is just a nice added incentive.
Aesthetically, SpongeBob is pretty average. It has the same cartoon look of the TV show, but in 3D. SpongeBob would probably lend itself better to a cel-shaded style, but what's here works. Framerates are consistently solid and SpongeBob showcases some impressive animation, but there's nothing here that really excels. It does help capture the spirit of the TV show, however, which is undoubtedly the most important part.
SpongeBob has the goods in the audio department though. All of the actors for the TV show (minus the talent behind Mr. Krabs) lend their voice to Battle for Bikini Bottom, so needless to say the voice acting is fantastic. Likewise, the music, which is taken from the show, is really catchy.
I'm no Miss Cleo, but I'm quite sure any game with SpongeBob SquarePants on the box will sell well, regardless of whether or not it's a veritable load of crap. It would have been easy to throw SpongeBob's porous face onto a generic platform game and then wait as the cash rolls in, but instead, SpongeBob and platform fans alike are treated to a well-made title with a load of personality. This is a no-brainer buy for SpongeBob fans, but platform enthusiasts can't go wrong here either.
Plankton's up to it again. This time he's unleashed a bunch of crazy robots but forgot to turn on the 'Obey Plankton? switch. So now they're scaring off customers from the Krusty Krab and stealing the Krabby Patties. It's up to Spongebob to take care of business, retrieve the patties, and clean up the town.
I can only hope other companies use Battle for Bikini Bottom as a guide on how to make a good, playable side-scroller. While the game appears to be geared towards younger crowds or the casual player, it does so without being condescending or boring to more advanced players. As Spongebob you have to walk around and find Krabby Patties and the three Golden Spatulas on each level to progress to the next. There are extra levels that can be unlocked and played if all the patties are found on a level. Miss a patty? It's easy enough to go back and play previous levels and find 'em all. The situations you get Spongebob into usually aren't too difficult to get out of but the bosses can be a bit challenging. The one feature that parents are likely to like best is that this is really a very non-violent game unless you perceive blowing bubbles, chomping flowers, bouncing off robots, and activating warp gates with spatulas to be violent. Another nicety is that performing all of these tasks feels good on the thumbs ' the controls are quite simple and responsive.
The graphics and sounds are true to the TV show and they look and sound great on the GBA. The animation is decent also. One major highlight in this reviewer's opinion is that the background art is nice, but doesn't get in the way of the foreground making the game that much more playable and less confusing.
Overall I found SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom to be a good mix of eye, ear, and thumb candy and a nice way to drain the batteries on your GBA. I would certainly recommend this game to any Spongebob fans or people that want to enjoy a nice platform gameplay experience.