It has been a long time since I watched SpongeBob SquarePants, but there was a time when I loved the show. There was also a time, back on the GameCube, when I played Battle for Bikini Bottom, which managed to be one of the few licensed games that offered a compelling experience.
With notes of Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, and other top-tier platformers, it’s no wonder it gained a cult status over the years. Now, THQ Nordic has brought us SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, a remake that pulls it, kicking, screaming, and laughing, into the modern era. Does it manage to retain its charm? Let’s find out.
A Polished Piece of Gaming History, But Has it Aged Well?
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, as gamers are acutely aware. There are games I look back on fondly, only to try them again in the present and realize they are woefully outdated. Those rose-tinted glasses can really hide the flaws that we’ve overcome as technology and talent has evolved.
Even so, the prospect of remakes and remasters give us a chance to fix those flaws. That was the goal with SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, and for the most part, it succeeds.
The combination of updated graphics, tweaked controls, and remastered soundtrack make this feel like a game that’s comfortable with releasing in 2020. For fans of the show, the attention to detail, the original voice actors, and the gags referencing specific episodes are all spot-on. While horrifying, I still get a good laugh out of a dehydrated SpongeBob in Sandy’s bubble.
For those who didn’t play the original, the story here involves Plankton once again trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula. This time, he goes the classic route of “build a robot army and hope they don’t turn on you.”
Through a poorly placed lever setting, the robots come out ready to revolt against their creator. Thus SpongeBob and friends are recruited to help get things under control by collecting golden spatulas that act in a similar fashion to stars in 3D Mario games, or power cores in Jak & Daxter. You’ll need a certain number to unlock new levels, and each level has a set of them to find, with clues on where each one is hidden.
In addition to the spatulas, shiny objects act as a currency you’ll use on occasion and come in different levels of rarity based on how hard they are to reach. Underwear acts as your health, and special collectibles allow you to expand your max health bar.
Finally, Patrick’s lost socks can be collected to exchange for additional golden spatulas in sets of five. While these are all familiar mechanics, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated does manage to stand out in a few ways because of its wide open levels and individual character abilities.
SpongeBob himself has a few moves, while Sandy and Patrick also bring unique abilities to the table such as the ability to throw things or hover across large distances in Sandy’s case. The available characters are tied to each level as a result of the design, but bus stops let you switch between them to leverage their skills in each level.
Toss in some challenging boss fights, and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated has all the hallmarks of a classic 3D platformer. While I would have liked the controls to be a little more responsive and the combat to be a little less repetitive, there are some fun and unique design elements here among the standard fare.
The addition of a horde mode for multiplayer is a nice touch, with additional playable characters, but it doesn’t go beyond killing waves of enemies. This would be fine if the combat was more compelling, but it’s the simplest aspect of the game, so highlighting it doesn’t really add anything to the experience.
Fans of the original game will enjoy this faithful remake. If you have any children using your PS4, it’s also a great addition to the family friendly lineup of PS4 titles. I myself had a good time, but it was a stark reminder of how much nostalgia can cloud the mind. The efforts of the remake are admirable, but the gameplay just isn’t as compelling to me as it was all those years ago.
Fresh Presentation Can’t Hide Outdated Design
The graphics and soundtrack in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated are superb. Colors explode off the screen, and the music is true to the source material. While it certainly has the look, the repetitive combat and slightly sluggish controls, combined with outdated design elements, made me realize just how much gaming has changed over the years.
Even so, as a piece of gaming history, I’m glad SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated exists. For fans of the original and young gamers who know the characters, it’s a faithful recreation of a title that managed to break the curse of licensed games by providing something true to the source material and robust enough to feel like a true effort.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes.
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 6/25/2020