Finally, after a long hoard of problems that came up thanks to life, I’ll be able to conduct my SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated review. It’s not that I was avoiding the game, life just came up with so many issues that even forced me to cancel Xenoblade Month right at the home stretch.
Regardless, I want to conduct a fair review of the game. Better late than never, after all! I have a bit of a history with SpongeBob games, actually. My gaming history with the squared jellyfish hunter started with SpongeBob SquarePants: Supersponge which was developed by Climax Studios. I also played a few other games like Lights, Camera, Pants! And the Movie video game… Prepare for a lot of comparisons to the latter in this review, by the way.
My history with the franchise aside, I was extremely hyped up leading to the release of BFBB! I enjoyed watching the previews and followed the development of the game closely for a while. I loved the fact that THQ Nordic was kind enough to provide us a review key for the game on PC. Unfortunately, illness (not COVID related) and a major surgery got in the way of the extended coverage I was planning to do.
Well, now the game’s been released and I have a few words to say about the game. So, let’s get started. For this review, I’ll prioritize BFBB’s improvements in the visual department overall. Of course, I’ll also briefly analyze the Story and gameplay aspects since none have been covered previously on this website.
I must say first of all that the quality of the models has vastly improved over the original game’s models. Back then, the models for Spongebob and Co. were looking quite rough around the edges and barely resembled the characters from the show. In BFBB Rehydrated, the palette looks brighter and the design is much closer to the show than before.
The visual aspect of the game also includes gags that constantly reference the show throughout. Obvious examples are the King Jellyfish, or the fact that Spongebob starts gasping for water inside Sandy’s home. I loved the majority of the references because I basically have experience with the show from Seasons 1 through 6.
I believe that the visual aspect of Spongebob is actually based on the movie “Sponge on the Run”? I mean, if they used the models from that for the remaster, I’ve gotta commend the developers for fully exploiting those resources. However, I think that the models would’ve benefited from thicker outlines instead.
The game also has several instances of graphical pop-up which are painfully noticeable. It’s incredible that even with a top of the line PC like mine I saw a LOT of pop-ups throughout the game. It makes me wonder whether or not this issue came due to a lack of optimization. I was wondering if we’d get a hotfix patch for the game over time. However, it never came on the PC version, so I am going to assume this is the final product.
Well, since I covered the remastering it makes sense for me to briefly talk about the story. The story is basically the plot of yet another SpongeBob episode. Plankton creates an army of robots for his evil schemes. Unfortunately, he forgets to set the switch of his machine to “Obey” and so the army starts to wreak havoc across Bikini Bottom.
Meanwhile, Spongebob and Patrick are seen playing with toy robots and wish they had real robots to play with. They use the magic conch shell to ask for real robots and… Well, that thing is known for making wishes a reality, just look at the Kelp Forest situation. Anyways, SpongeBob, Patrick, and eventually Sandy all join together to stop the robot menace by collecting Golden Spatulas to gain access to the Chum Bucket.
It’s not a complicated plot, which leaves more of a “Journey matters over the destination” kind of feel to it. The game’s supposed to be enjoyed for the references it makes to gags in the show. We don’t have much character development outside of funny and quirky dialogue sequences in some scenes. Again, it’s standard for SpongeBob. I didn’t go in here expecting a huge epic tale that flops in its face.
To the Chum Bucket!
Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom takes on a Collect-a-thon approach. You’ll be rewarded with Golden Spatulas for completing certain tasks like going from Point A to Point B or completing side-quests found throughout the stages.
SpongeBob has a bigger focus on this game. He’s able to perform several moves that help with platforming and puzzle-solving like a bubble missile or a bubble bowling ball. Meanwhile, Patrick is left with the capability of throwing items (and even enemies) to solve different puzzles. Sandy has access to her lasso, letting her take care of enemies from a distance and even glide in midair.
All three of the characters also have an attack move of sorts to dispatch enemies at a close range. SpongeBob uses his bubble blower, Patrick uses his belly, and Sandy uses Karate Chop action. It’s also worth noting that Patrick and Sandy aren’t readily available all the time. Some stages will let you use Patrick while some will let you use Sandy.
The method for switching characters is kind of unintuitive. You have to go to a Bus Stop and switch to the character that can deal with the situation. Unfortunately, this also means that you have to do a lot of backtracking and that’s not fun. With the limited movement and attack options, this problem just becomes more prominent and cumbersome.
A Disappointing Kit that Already was Made Better
What disappoints me is (and here’s the first comparison to the Movie game) the lack of upgradable moves in the game. You see, the Movie videogame addressed the lack of movement options with upgradable moves that gave you an incentive to collect shiny objects. For example, you were able to give Spongebob the ability to reflect projectiles with his standard attack, giving him a much better way to deal with enemies who threw projectiles at him
Patrick had various improvements to his Throw and also was able to do a Cartwheel move that allowed him to run through the stage while hitting enemies. I loved the upgradable moves in the Movie videogame because they also added a layer of depth to the game’s mechanics.
Another problem is that the available tools are kind of relegated to puzzles only because they’re not that practical. The Bubble bowl, for example, requires you to hold down the button to aim slowly while SpongeBob tippy-toes forward. Of course, with enemies all around you, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get hit before you even throw the thing. It’s also complicated to aim with the thing, especially on rotating floors.
I think that the game would’ve amply benefitted from upgradable moves. Or, at the very least, a more varied kit for the available cast which allowed creative players to bypass challenges. Unfortunately, the list of nitpicks is still not done so, let’s get those done quickly.
Why Does This Still Have Knockback?!
I hate knockback! It’s an annoying occurrence in various games because it can lead to very unfair deaths. Unfortunately, the issue still exists in BFBB and, in my opinion, it’s much worse. I don’t know if it’s a bug or if it’s something exclusive to the PC version. But at some points you can get launched into near orbit from touching an enemy or projectile. I had to tweet one of the instances of this happening to me because it was so bizarre.
WHOAH @THQNordic, maybe tone down the knockback a bit? I'm scared of flying to outer space just because I missed a hit! #SpongeBobRehydrated
(Game's still fun <3) pic.twitter.com/vZJkwYFDn1
— Ule Lopez (@UleTheVee) June 24, 2020
What’s even more hilarious is that the game’s knockback also helped me clear out one of the sections in the Dream World. In Mr. Krabs’s dream, you have to face an onslaught of enemies while taking down some robot generators along the way. Fortunately for me, during one of the waves I was literally knocked back into one of the generators. I laughed so hard at this because that helped me clear the stage much earlier than before. Of course, I know this was far from intentional and it definitely doesn’t add any additional points to my score, helpful as it was.
Nasty Patty Problems
BFBB Rehydrated has a lot of other technical issues. I mentioned the visual pop-up earlier. However, I’ve also had problems with jumping of all things. Jumping on a slated platform causes you to lose height in your jumps which are baffling, to say the least. I never understood why this happened even today.
I could go on but I would also like to talk about the game’s multiplayer. The multiplayer has you and a friend (in this case, my fellow writer Christopher Falcon) squaring off against a robot version of Squidward. You can even play as other characters like Squidward, Gary, and Robo-Plankton. However, all it amounts to is a mook rush where you constantly beat enemies over and over again.
The multiplayer segment is even more annoying when you reach the end of it. You take down all of Robo Squidward’s tentacles and then… You’re just booted back to the title screen. Yes, just like that. It really doesn’t amount to anything!
I didn’t even get an achievement for completing the boss fight which only increased my level of frustration even further. Falcon and I were left speechless after we completed the mode and just decided to go about our ways. At that point, I would’ve preferred to have some co-op stages or have the entirety of the game be playable in co-op.
Conclusion: Slightly Mediocre, Yet Fun
I’ll be honest, SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated leaves much to be desired. The gameplay isn’t that engaging and the Collect-a-thon aspect is missing so many things that are essential for a fun experience all throughout. The major issue I have with the game is that so many of the issues I’ve had with it were fixed in the Movie video game.
While the Movie video game also isn’t too much to write home about, either. It expanded on the things that BFBB put on the table and made for a more enjoyable experience that I didn’t hesitate to replay even today for comparison’s sake. I ended up craving for a remake of the Movie video game rather than BFBB.
I believe that the issues with knockback and such can be ironed out with patches. However, the core gameplay will be the same and as a collect-a-thon, it’s something you have seen before many times. If you don’t care about that and want to play a fun SpongeBob game that makes references to its source material, then you have something worth playing.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher
What do you think about our SpongeBob SquarePants Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated review? Do you agree with the points brought by it? Do you own the game on PS4, Switch, or PC? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. In case you missed it, take a look at our Plankton’s Robotic Revenge Review.