It's hard to be more beloved than SpongeBob SquarePants, and now fans can guide their favorite sponge and his crew through one of the character's classic adventures in SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated. The original game has become a cult classic for its spot-on recreation of SpongeBob's world and platforming gameplay, and now players can experience the truly complete version of the game with restored content, as well as updated visuals and a new multiplayer mode. For SpongeBob fans, it's not even a question as to whether you should play Rehydrated, and there's quite a bit for new players to enjoy, as well. Despite its strengths, there's nothing that revolutionary about the game's mechanics and story, and the multiplayer mode will only appeal to you for a short duration. Crazily enough though all that doesn't keep it from being surprisingly addictive.
The original game released back in 2003 and quite a bit has changed in the gaming landscape since then, both in terms of visuals and gameplay expectations. Rehydrated meets those expectations head-on, with visuals that retain the cartoonish aesthetic from the show and gameplay that feels of the modern era. The world is full of vibrant colors and unique areas to play in, and being able to switch out characters at bus stops opens up each level in a fun and engaging way, especially the Sandy segments, but I've also got all the love for Patrick's contributions.
At its core, the game is a platformer that features an open world hub of Bikini Bottom tethering it all together, yet you won't return there much other than to grab some extra Golden Spatulas from Mr. Krabs or return some Socks to Patrick. For a hub world, there is remarkably little to do here, but, not going to lie, it doesn't get old annoying Squidward in his house.
The actual worlds themselves are much more interesting and range from the relatively peaceful and easy Jellyfish Fields to the neon-lit streets of Rock Bottom, and each area tries to shake up the main platforming with either Sandy's ability to hook and swing with her lasso or Patrick's see-saw launching and object-throwing abilities. It was actually quite fun to switch between characters and explore previously inaccessible areas of the world, and each of the characters offers up another variety to feel distinct from one another.
While the levels themselves are fun to explore, the level design gets in the way of your progress quite often. There were several times throughout the course of the campaign where the path to achieving the core objective wasn't quite clear, resulting in running through levels and areas aimlessly hoping to find that one last element needed to clear the level, and that can turn an otherwise fun excursion into a frustrating affair quickly.
It's a shame when that happens, too, because it starts to suck the fun out of everything, and that's easily the game's strongest element. There's a steady and satisfying pace to the game, and the combat may not be the deepest, but it is perfect for adding that extra degree of challenge while keeping you moving through the level. You'll find quite a bit of charm here, and the rate of opening up new areas and grabbing Golden Spatulas keeps you focused on the main prize and keeps the experience from getting stale, which is good because there's really not much story here to grasp onto.
Unfortunately, the mechanics can let you down a bit, including one particular puzzle where you are trying to get a boulder across a labyrinth of mechanisms to its endpoint. This was easily one of the most frustrating sections of the game, as it was one particular move's questionable accuracy that constantly led to failure.
The game features a new horde mode for SpongeBob and the crew, which is playable online and via couch co-op. This would be an excellent addition to the experience, as it does feature several new playable characters not accessible in the main story campaign, and while it's sure to be a hit with more casual players, the combat itself isn't deep or fleshed out enough to make up for the lack of platforming, so your mileage may vary.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is a rewarding and genuinely fun restoration of a cult classic, and while not every single element of the game lands, the whole is an experience that any SpongeBob fan is going to enjoy, and that's really the point, after all.0comments
Rating: 3 out of 5
SpongeBob SquarePants Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. A PlayStation 4 code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.