Not too long after the release of Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, a remake of the 2003 SpongeBob classic, a sequel was commissioned by THQ Nordic. It makes sense, given the popularity and success of the first game, that an original spiritual successor would be not far behind. And as a fan who grew up with the classic cartoons, this game also certainly piqued my interest.
The Cosmic Shake begins, as all memorable SpongeBob episodes go, with SpongeBob and Patrick causing shenanigans that wreak havoc on all of Bikini Bottom. More clearly, residents of the town have been sucked into portals and placed in alternate dimensions based on different themes.
Playing as SpongeBob, you visit each of these worlds with the intention to rescue the Bikini Bottom residents and save the town. For example, there’s a world based on Jellyfish Fields, Rock Bottom, and even the Flying Dutchman’s ship.
Each of these worlds feel unique enough in their own right, but unfortunately they aren’t as memorable as they were in the previous game.The worlds themselves also don’t feel as memorable. In Battle for Bikini Bottom, there was a sense that each new area you visited was part of a larger Bikini Bottom, and you felt like you were existing in the world of SpongeBob SquarePants. For fans of the show, it was an incredible way to step into the shoes of a character on the show and interact with other iconic residents of the town.
But in The Cosmic Shake, each world is so disconnected from Bikini Bottom that it doesn’t feel as interesting to explore. Each ‘wishworld’ is partly based on a location from the show, but because they’re their own multidimensional entity, it doesn’t have the same appeal as exploring a new location in Battle for Bikini Bottom.
Coming off the behind of Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, I was also initially disappointed with what was on offer in The Cosmic Shake in terms of content. The amount of playable characters has been reduced from three to one, and enemy types have been simplified. It’s significantly less fun to utilise the different abilities of Patrick and Sandy in addition to SpongeBob, and even though The Cosmic Shake promises the latter has more abilities, the gameplay loop still feels too familiar all throughout.
Similarly, most of the characters you meet in these worlds are twisted versions of those we know and love from the show. You meet Squidward a lot throughout the game, but it’s never the same version of Squidward. Sometimes he’s a movie director, sometimes a caveman. And it’s not as enjoyable as having SpongeBob annoy the real Squidward.
Fundamentally, the problem with SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is it just doesn’t have the same legs as Battle for Bikini Bottom. The writing isn’t any better, the worlds are much less fun to explore, and the variety in collectibles and side activities doesn’t keep me coming back to the game. It’s a nice attempt for Purple Lamp Studios, but I still feel like something was missed here in trying to recapture the magic of its predecessor.
To speak more fairly though, we have to remember that this is a game aimed at children. They probably don’t care if it’s not as good as the last one, they just want to see SpongeBob and his friends be goofy. And there are times when The Cosmic Shake can be a brilliant 3D platformer. The levels are designed in a way that isn’t too difficult or frustrating, especially for younger gamers.
Altogether, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake feels like it’s exactly in line with what the cartoon has become. The humour isn’t quite what it used to be, the characters are flanderisations of their original counterparts, and the plot is just too weird that it probably won’t appeal to older fans. But the children will love it.
For our SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake review, a PC code was supplied to GameByte by THQ Nordic.
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