Despite being on the air for 21 years at this point I have to admit that I have never seen a full episode SpongeBob SquarePants in my life. This is probably because the show came out a couple years too late as I was a little past the target demo when it first came out. Not surprisingly the series has had a ton of different video games made for it over the 21 years it has been on the air. Many of them were pretty forgettable generic children’s games that were mostly made to cash in on the show’s popularity. One of these games which was released in 2003 was SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom which received pretty average ratings when it was first released. On the surface this doesn’t seem like the type of game that typically would get the remaster treatment. Over the years though it has developed kind of a cult following and has been embraced by the speedrunning community. Seventeen years later the game has finally been re-released as SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. As I don’t really have an opinion on SpongeBob, the main reason I was intrigued by the game was because I have always been a sucker for “mascot” 3D platformers as you don’t get many of them anymore. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated doesn’t innovate on your typical 3D platformer in any meaningful way, but it was a genuine surprise as it includes everything that fans of the genre know and love.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Purple Lamp Studios and THQ Nordic for the review copy of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated Plankton is up to no good once again. This time he has created a machine that creates robots to help him steal the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. After he turns on the machine he discovers that he set the machine to have the robots disobey his commands. The robots with no orders create havoc throughout Bikini Bottom. Plankton tricks SpongeBob and Patrick into helping him stop the robots so he can then regain control over them. Can SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy stop the robots and save Bikini Bottom?
For those that played the original version of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom you should already know what to expect as outside of a few changes the game is exactly the same. For those who have never played the game SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is basically the very definition of a 3D platformer. In the game you mostly play as SpongeBob, but there are also times where you can switch to Patrick or Sandy. Each character has their own special abilities which are used to solve various puzzles and obstacles that stand in your way. The gameplay mostly breaks down into two main mechanics.
First the game has a combat mechanic typical of this genre. Throughout each level you will face groups of enemies. Each character has a basic melee attack, a stomp attack, and some of the characters have a special attack. Most enemies can be killed with just one hit, but there are a few that take two hits. Each time your character gets hit you will lose one of your pairs of underwear. If you run out of underwear you are sent back to the last checkpoint you encountered. Occasionally you will get a boss fight which basically entails avoiding the enemy until their weak point is exposed. The combat is basically exactly what you would expect from your typical mascot 3D platformer. It is decently satisfying, but not too deep.
The other major mechanic in the game is the platforming. Like all 3D platformers you basically have to jump between different platforms/objects to reach your next destination. Each character has a basic double jump while Sandy has the ability to glide and swing between hooks in the sky. Most of the platforming is used to reach new sections of the current level. Each level is basically broken down into a couple different sections with each section having its own challenge that you have to complete. Throughout your journey you will acquire golden spatulas which are required to unlock new levels. You will also find socks and currency which you can use to purchase additional spatulas from characters.
Heading into SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated I will admit that I had no preconceptions as I had never played the original version and only know the basics of the SpongeBob franchise. I honestly didn’t really care about the theme all that much and was mostly intrigued because I have always enjoyed these type of 3D “mascot” platformers ever since I was a kid. As this genre doesn’t get nearly as much love as it once did, it is sometimes hard to find new games in the genre. Despite not having much interest in the theme, I was hoping that it would be a good reminder of the good old days when these type of 3D platformers were much more common.
Despite having tempered expectations I have to say that I was kind of surprised by SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. Now don’t get me wrong as the game has issues and it doesn’t really do anything that hasn’t been done in many other games from this genre. Yet I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the game. The game succeeds because it emphasizes what I have always enjoyed about this genre. The platforming is similar to pretty much what you would get from every 3D platformer and yet it is still fun. The game really takes you back to an era of video games where 3D platformers were everywhere. The game doesn’t compare with the best games from the genre, but it is far from one of the worst either. Fans of the 3D platformer genre should have fun with the game as it does a good job recreating what people enjoy about this genre.
I think one of the main reasons why the game is enjoyable is that it feels like more care was put into the game than I originally thought there would be. When the game originally came out most games based on a franchise were generally pretty bad. Most were created in order to make a quick buck off the franchise without putting the required money and time into making a genuinely good game. I don’t know how the original game did in this regard, but SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated shows that care was put into the game. The game features a number of different worlds and they show that a lot of care was put into making the game. This is most obvious in the controls which work quite well. The controls are usually quite precise where failures are generally your fault.
The amount of care that went into this remaster is even more clear on the visual and audio front. I never played the original game so I can’t directly compare the graphics to the original release, but it is clear that the developers took a lot of care into updating the graphics to modern standards. I was honestly surprised that the game looks a lot better than I was expecting. The worlds show a lot of detail and if you didn’t know better you would have no idea that the game was based off of a PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era game. I honestly think SpongeBob fans couldn’t have expected any better from the remaster. The audio is pretty good for the most part as it appears to have been remastered from the original game. Fans of the original will appreciate this even though it does lead to some of the issues from that era of video gaming. Some of the background music can get repetitive at times and you will get tired of hearing SpongeBob say the same lines over and over again. Nonetheless I don’t know how anyone could be disappointed by the work Purple Lamp Studios did remastering the original game.
Outside of the remastered graphics and audio you might be wondering what SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated adds to the original game. It appears that the game has two main additions. The first is that it includes some content that was cut from the original game. As I never played the original version of the game I can’t comment on what this additional content was. The bigger addition is the multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode is limited to its own mode as you can’t play the whole game with another player. This multiplayer mode is basically a horde/coliseum battle mode. Basically all of the players control their own character as they fight against waves of enemies that randomly spawn. After completing a couple waves you will have to jump between platforms to reach another island where you will fight against more enemies. This is for the most part a fighting challenge and is moderately fun. I would say it is more of a distraction than anything else though as it isn’t going to drastically impact your opinion of the game in either direction.
I was honestly impressed by SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated as it is a better game than the middling reviews the original versions of the game received. Even if you don’t really care for SpongeBob SquarePants like me you can still get enjoyment out of the game if you like the 3D platformer genre. While I enjoyed the game it does have a few issues though.
The biggest issue with the game is that it isn’t particularly original. Even back when it was first released the game was far from an original platformer. Outside of maybe some of the special abilities of some of the characters, there is nothing particularly original about the gameplay. Thus SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is your basic 3D platformer. If you have played a 3D platformer before you know what to expect out of the game. I still enjoyed playing the game, but there are better platformers out there. If you aren’t a big fan of the genre you would be better off playing those games instead. If you are a big fan of the genre though you should be able to overlook the fact that the game isn’t particularly original as it does a good job recreating what people generally like about the genre.
The next problem is likely due to the era that the game originally came from. While playing the game I encountered a lot of inaccessible areas that look like you should be able to reach them. This was common for the era when the game originally came out, but it is kind of frustrating to still see them in the game. You will also encounter quite a few hidden walls that block your progress. The worst is sections that you can jump to, but are designated as out of bounds which sends you back to a previous location. The biggest problem with these is that the loading times can be a little long at times. Therefore it is a little frustrating that due to you thinking you can jump somewhere you can’t you are forced to sit through a loading screen.
The final problem that I had with the game has to deal with the fact that it was originally a game meant for younger children. Due to this the game is on the easier side. The platforming challenges and combat are quite easy most of the time. I rarely died due to bad jumps or losing a fight. Instead I mostly died to cheap enemies that waited at the edges of platforms or failing to make jumps due to hidden walls or inaccessible areas. The puzzles are really straightforward as well. I am not going to judge the game too much as it was originally designed more for younger children. Anyone who plays a lot of platformers though are likely to breeze through most of the game though.
As for the game’s length I have played through about half of the game at this point so I can only give you an estimate. Based on HowLongToBeat.com’s analysis of the original game I would say that the remaster is likely to be around the same length plus whatever time you spend in the new multiplayer mode. I would say that the main campaign will take most players around ten hours while you could probably get around fifteen hours if you try to find all of the collectibles. At a retail price of $30 this is not a bad length for the game.
Heading into SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated I didn’t know what to expect. I have never really been a fan of SpongeBob and I never played the original version of the game. I mostly played the game as I have always been a fan of this genre of 3D platformers. The game may not revolutionize the genre in any meaningful way, but it succeeds at emphasizing what I have always enjoyed about this genre. The gameplay is simple and yet fun. Fans of this genre should enjoy the game even if there are better 3D platformers. As for the remaster itself it adds a new multiplayer mode that is somewhat fun. Purple Lamp Studios mostly deserves credit though because it did a great job remastering the audio and visuals. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated does feature too many invisible walls/inaccessible areas and is a little too easy. Otherwise it is basically what you would expect from a 3D platformer.
If you aren’t a big fan of the 3D platformer genre or don’t really care for SpongeBob I don’t see a reason for you to pick up the game. Fans of the franchise or 3D platformers though should enjoy their time with the game though. For those people I would recommend they consider picking up SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated.
Buy SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated online: Amazon – Nintendo Switch (Standard Edition, Shiny Edition, F.U.N. Edition), PC (Standard Edition, Shiny Edition, F.U.N. Edition), PlayStation 4 (Standard Edition, Shiny Edition, F.U.N. Edition), Xbox One (Standard Edition, Shiny Edition, F.U.N. Edition)