Ohhhhhh! Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants. Who’s back with a remake a great as can be! SpongeBob SquarePants… That’s right; unless you’ve been living under a rock (like Patrick) for the last 18 months, you’re probably already aware of the remake, I mean Rehydrated version of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom from THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp Studios. This game is a classic among fans of the TV show, but as someone who never played the original or watched the show, is it any good?
Rebuilt from the ground up, this new version of the game is a very faithful remake of the original with an additional multiplayer mode that restores content which was cut from when it originally launched. I may not have played the original game but I have watched a few videos on YouTube of others doing so after I achieved the platinum within this modernised edition, so I can compare the two as best as I can.
So, let’s take a trip to Bikini Bottom and see if it’s worth picking up this game as a newcomer or a fan of the original…
It was an ordinary, boring day in Bikini Bottom, both SpongeBob and Patrick were joyfully playing with their toys without a care in the world. Due to things being rather dull, Patrick makes a wish into his magical shell that his robots would come to life in order to make things exciting for once. Unbeknown to our simple duo, Plankton, the evil genius from the Chum Bucket, had just finished working on his Duplcatotron 3000, a machine which can create clones of evil robots to serve him and help him take over Bikini Bottom!
However, Plankton was so caught up in his evil plans that he failed to notice the switch on his machine was set to “not obey”, leading to the maniacal mechs being created with no way for him to control them, thus removing him from the base as they expanded and began to wreak havoc on the whole of Bikini Bottom. At first SpongeBob and Patrick thought their wish had come true until they realised it was more akin to a nightmare, stepping in to help out their friends and restore peace to their home by fighting and destroying every machine they come across.
And that’s the plot, you play as multiple characters travelling through various regions within Bikini Bottom tracking down the source of the rampant robots in order to put an end to their creation once and for all. Filled with puzzles, platforming, races, multiple goals, and character-specific environmental obstacles, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a big semi-open-world 3D adventure which both adults and children will love to play.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a 3D platformer with a hub area, unlockable paths to other locations, boss battles, puzzles, and multiple playable characters. You can only go to a few locations initially but once you’ve collected enough Golden Spatulas, the game opens up and allows you to visit other regions and delve deeper into the initial hub area where SpongeBob and Patrick live. As someone who never played the original, the concept almost reminded me of Super Mario 64, each location has unique challenges to complete in order to obtain the Golden Spatulas and its own set of collectables specific to that region.
The ability to swap characters was an interesting concept as it’s not just for the visuals, each protagonist has their own unique abilities which you must use in order to overcome some of the puzzles and hazards you encounter. For example, Sandy (the squirrel) can hover using her rope, tie up enemies from afar, and swing from floating orbs. Most of the regions you travel to will require you to switch between both SpongeBob and either Sandy or Patrick via a bus stop in order to navigate through them, it’s interesting and adds an extra layer onto the puzzle aspect of the game.
The majority of the game involves completing the various challenges to obtain all 84 Golden Spatulas (or just find them lying around in some areas), then buying eight more off Mr. Krabs and exchanging 80 socks with Patrick for the remaining eight. You’ll also be collecting ‘Shiny Objects’ as you defeat the various robots, the currency they use under the sea which you give to Mr. Krabs. I thought the collection aspect and the various challenges you had to face were all brilliantly intertwined into the solid platforming and humorous narrative, forcing you to explore every nook and cranny each time you entered a new area.
There are also a few massive robotic bosses for you to fight!
Unlike modern games, there’s very little support in terms of hand-holding. This game comes from the era where developers created their vision and then left you to it, offering very little hints and tips on where to go or what to do – this is no different. From the moment you open your first gate and call an underwater taxi, you’re free to do whatever you want in the areas you have access to.
You can spend all your time completing all the goals in one place, or you can obtain enough to move on then go explore another region – the freedom you have is quite refreshing in comparison to modern 3D platformers. On a similar note, you don’t even need all 100 Golden Spatulas to complete the game, you only need 75, but you’ll need all of them if going for the platinum – and no, the old cheats don’t work.
Rehydrated or gasping for air?
After watching a few videos of the original game on YouTube, I can’t do anything other than highly recommend SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. Sure, it looks like the original ran at 60fps on certain platforms whilst this one is 30, but the visuals are night and day! If you played the Spyro remakes and saw how the PS1 game was transformed into a beautiful and colourful cartoon-like adventure, this game is exactly the same. Everything is bright, vibrant, rounded, modelled to look like the cartoon show, and the game runs incredibly smooth at all times (on my PS4 Pro).
In terms of the actual game itself, it’s a 1:1 carbon copy of the original game – I know this as I had to follow a few text-based guides for the last few Golden Spatulas due to how confusing and hard-to-navigate a few of the locations were. In a way, it’s like Outcast: Second Contact, a new coat of paint and fully re-designed models over the original base code and level design. Fans of the original game will love this faithful remake as it’s how they probably imagined the 2003 game looked in their nostalgiac mind, and new players will love it due to its simplicity combined with amazing attention to detail and fun gameplay elements.
Although I’ve not watched the TV show (I never had Sky as a child so shows like this weren’t accessible to me) the jokes the game throws at you and the references it brings up are all very funny and entertaining. I love how stupid Patrick is, he’s so simple yet adorable. Also, I’m not sure if this happened in the original game but if you don’t move the characters for a while, both Patrick and SpongeBob start pulling their infamous ‘Meme’ poses.
I would have thought that remaking an old game which has jokes and references would feel dated and ‘old’, but if I didn’t know this was a remake of a 17-year-old game, I’d say it was a brand new one made this year.
The frustrating early 2000’s
Okay, one thing which has also been mimicked from the original is the very precise and frustrating platforming. Don’t get me wrong, the game itself is brilliant and a great homage to the original, but as a new player to the game and someone who plays mainly modern titles, the platforming and navigation frustrated me many times. The controls are solid, there’s no issue with those, but the game is quite tricky due to almost pixel-perfect jumping in places, a puzzle which requires you to run after a ball and push switches in time (with the final pad you jump on not using physics properly), bosses that can kill you pretty fast, and super annoying racing segments.
A lot of my frustrations and annoyances will most likely come down to me and my experience with them – you may not feel the same. But, after trying to do a race segment literally 20 times and always failing by 1-2 seconds, it almost had me put down my controller and give up on the platinum. There was also the issue with getting lost – something I tend to do when I play these remasters which haven’t been modified to provide modern navigation mechanics. On one hand it’s great, you’re given the freedom to do what you want in whatever order you wish, on the other that means I spent a while just running around looking for things to do.
One difference I spotted
One thing which was changed – which I feel was a bit of an annoying move – was the purchasing of Golden Spatulas off Mr. Krabs. In the original game, the first one was 3,000 Shiny Objects and all subsequent ones were 500 Shiny Objects more (minus 6,500 and 7,000), making the last one 7,500. However, in the remake, it starts at 3,000 but each subsequent one is an EXTRA 3,000, making the last one 24,000.
That means instead of paying him 39,000 Shiny Objects, you have to pay him a whopping 108,000! This led to me literally grinding for Shiny Objects for about two to three hours after I’d completed everything else within the game – I don’t see why this was increased other than to prolong the game as you won’t ‘naturally’ earn that many Shiny Objects through regular play. This was frustrating and the most annoying part of the game.
New to this remade edition of the game is a local and online horde mode for two players. As of today (the 22nd June), I’ve been unable to actually try this mode out for myself due to there being an issue with the servers (either they’re not turned on or there’s something wrong) and not having anyone over, due to Social distancing. Although, I’ve just grabbed a second controller and loaded it up in local mode to see what it’s all about!
There are 26 islands for you to move between, each one having you face waves of spawning enemies as your small platform is surrounded by the deadly goo. The great thing here is that there are seven playable characters (SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Gary, Squidward, Mr. Krabs and Robo Plankton), allowing you to play as those you can’t actually play as in the main game, each with their own attacks and combat styles. I didn’t play it all the way through but Robo Squidward, the boss battle which was cut out of the original game, follows you around as you progress in this mode, inevitably getting ready to fight you at the end.
This mode is fun and I imagine you’ll enjoy playing it with friends, family and strangers both online and offline (although, don’t let strangers into your house with the promise of playing the game with you – stay safe), but it doesn’t have any attached trophies or rewards (thankfully). So, it’s an added bonus to prolong the game but it isn’t a requirement if you’re going for the platinum.
My inverted issue
Before I get into my issue, I’ve advised my contact of this problem and I’ve been told a patch should be released soon in order to fix it – although as of writing this review (the day before), there’s been no update to address the issue.
If you’ve read my reviews previously, you’ll know how I can’t play any game which isn’t inverted. This is why I’m so happy NACON let me review the Revolution Unlimited Pro controller (as it lets you invert the y-axis even if the game doesn’t), but I still call out games which don’t support this basic accessibility option. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated DOES have an invert option, but it doesn’t work correctly at the moment. If you enable it in the options, the y-axis is inverted… until you change to another character via the bus stop. Once you do this, it will un-invert the controls without warning.
The quick-fix for this is to go to the options – Options, Triangle, then Gameplay Settings – then flick the invert off then on and press Circle three times. It’s annoying and a mild inconvenience, but doing that re-enables invert. This silly bug will be fixed soon I imagine, but until it is, you’ll have to do this each time you swap characters if you have to play inverted (like me).
Thankfully though, this was the only issue I noticed throughout the game. I spotted a mild framerate issue in one ‘Dream’ area, but the rest of the game was silky smooth and solid as a rock (well, I once got stuck between a rock and a hard place – literally – but fast travel sorted that out).
I don’t know the numbers in regards to framerate and resolution but I can say that the game looks absolutely stunning on the PS4 Pro (there’s no HDR although the game is so colourful and bright that you’d think it does have it). When comparing the original to this one, the core design is identical but the presentation is now so much more fantastical and bright – Patrick looks a lot more chunky and wobbly as well. In many ways, it reminds me of Toys For Bob‘s Spyro remakes with the vibrant green fields, contrasting purple trees, and beautiful environments.
The music has also been ‘rehydrated’ for this release, sounding much cleaner and chirpier than the original I heard over on YouTube. Even without watching the TV show, just listening to the music makes me think of SpongeBob – it’s just so happy, uplifting, joyful, and fun.
I’m sure people will notice slight changes in the gameplay mechanics but, as I never played the original, I can’t comment on these. However, I did try and do a few speedrunning hacks and the various cheats from all versions of the previous game – none of them seemed to work. I tried these because the original cheats sometimes work in these remasters – maybe there are new ones which haven’t been found/disclosed yet?
However, even without any cheats, the game is very much playable and beatable as long as you have patience and don’t mind a bit of frustration due to essentially being a new coat of paint over the level design and mechanics of a 17-year-old game.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a very faithful remake of a beloved classic 3D platformer. Fans of the original game will love how they can replay this brilliant adventure with updated visuals that match their nostalgic memories, new gamers will love the playfulness and entertaining gameplay which still holds up today. Despite not adding anything new to the actual main story, the additional co-op Horde Mode allows you and one other to prolong the gameplay and fight against Robo Squidward, the boss which was cut from the original game. Sure, the game does get frustrating and annoying at times, with it’s early 2000’s design and mechanics, but it makes up for this with all of its charm and the addictive gameplay.
This is a game that everyone of all ages will love. some of the Golden Spatulas may be a little tricky for younger kids – such as the races – but overall I’d say it’s very family-friendly and I highly recommend it to everyone who is simply looking for something fun to play.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated
- - Very colourful and bright, a great remake of the original game
- - A new co-op Horde Mode for both online and offline multiplayer
- - A 1:1 copy of the original, keeping everything faithful to the original game but with an overhaul in the visuals
- - The soundtrack has been re-recorded and sounds better than ever
- - Fun for people of all ages with its tricky but not too hard gameplay
- - Some of the gameplay mechanics are stuck in the early 2000s, making some platforming and racing segments quite challenging
- - The amount you have to pay to buy Golden Spatulas is almost triple the original amount, making the final trophy a grind rather than fun
- - There's an issue with the y-axis invert at the moment but it should be fixed soon (not affected the score)