Review: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated

Posted on July 8, 2020 by Gregory Dawes

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Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated holds up as a solid platformer to this day. While it definitely shows its age and level design philosophy of the era its from, it still has a certain charm to it that can’t be replicated.

Publisher:  THQ Nordic

Players:  Single Player / 2 Player Online or Couch Co-op

Release date: June 23, 2020

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom originally launched in 2003 and has surprisingly amassed a pretty sizable community who still look fondly at the title to this day. In particular, the speedrunning community has kept the game in the public eye and calls for a remaster have grown year by year. Now that it has finally happened with the launch of Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, both new and old fans have something to look forward to in this HD refresh.

This 3D platformer takes place in the iconic Bikini Bottom, and anyone that grew up with the cartoon will instantly recognize the various locations and characters found in the game. Main characters like SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward and Mr. Krabs can all be found here as well as an assortment of side characters like Larry Lobster or Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy. The game itself really captures the look and feel of the cartoon and has a bright and lively atmosphere with music befitting of the different locales. The original voice actors even reprise their roles, with the exception of Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man who are honestly pretty poor, especially the latter.

Up to his usual no good antics, Plankton mistakenly unleashes his army of robots upon Bikini Bottom that he originally designed to steal the coveted Krabby Patty formula with. He then ropes SpongeBob and friends to help him destroy the robots and reclaim the Chum Bucket which has been overrun and turned into an HQ by his own creations.

The game is separated by different levels all accessible from a hub world which is none other than Bikini Bottom. To access new levels, you must find Golden Spatulas found throughout the currently accessible levels. The number required ramps up for each new level until you finally reach 75 to access the Chum Bucket. There are 100 of these spatulas found throughout the game, so it gives you some leeway and options when it comes to completion. Some of them are simply located in the game world while others are more secretive and will have you completing various objectives such as time trials to earn them. In addition, there are optional collectibles found throughout the game in the form of Patrick’s dirty socks, which will reward you with a golden spatula for every 10 you find.

Throughout the game, you play as SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy. You are able to swap between them at bus stops found throughout the different levels. Each character has their own abilities and sometimes it becomes necessary to rotate between them to solve puzzles and progress. SpongeBob has the most overall moves at his disposal while Patrick is able to pick up certain items and throw them. Sandy comes equipped with her lasso and is able to use it to attack as well as glide throughout the air and reach areas the other two can’t. SpongeBob is also able to acquire a few new moves from his mentor Bubble Buddy throughout the game which become necessary to obtain more spatulas and help to defeat different robot types. One gripe I have with the character switching is that it is more of a hassle than anything. Having to find a bus stop at times can be annoying and inconvenient and simply being able to swap characters on the fly would’ve made for a more engaging experience in my opinion.

The developers opted to keep all the original game mechanics to appease the speedrunning community as well as make it as faithful as possible to the original which I respect, but it definitely helps show the age of the game at times. While the game itself controls pretty wonderfully with tight movement and precision, there are times where it can look and feel somewhat janky. I’ve had animations simply not animate at times and have unintentionally got out of bounds more than once. Audio glitches were also a common occurrence in my playthrough and took me out of the experience a bit. A little more care in bringing the game up to more modern standards would have been appreciated. And that’s not to say it isn’t modernized at all. The graphics are very nice and fitting of the game. Colors pop and the game world is fully realized with all new texture work on nearly everything. Some modern memes and images from the show have even found their way into the game which fans will appreciate.

A new local/online 2 player multiplayer mode was added which was originally planned to be in the original release but was cut. In all honesty, I can see why it was cut. It is a horde like mode in which you and a friend can take on waves of robots while playing as an assortment of characters including new ones not playable in the original game like Gary and Squidward. After about 3 minutes, I found myself bored and had no interest to continue playing, especially as you get no rewards and the combat in this game isn’t anything spectacular. It doesn’t hurt the game at all, but it doesn’t add much either.

Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated holds up as a solid platformer to this day. While it definitely shows its age and level design philosophy of the era its from, it still has a certain charm to it that can’t be replecated. It’s not too common for licensed property video games to be good, let alone hold up for nearly 20 years. There is a decent game to be found here if you are looking for a lighthearted and whimsical adventure with some of your childhood memories. If nautical nonsense be something you wish, this is the game for you.

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