Within the great list of video games of SpongeBob stands out one in particular: Battle for Bikini Bottom. This is a 2003 title that won the hearts of thousands of people by offering a 3D platformer with an emphasis on collecting fun items. In this way, 17 years later, THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp Studios have been in charge of rehydrating this game with a beautiful visual style, a remastered soundtrack and new content. Is SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated the best SpongeBob game? Let’s have a look.
The original Battle for Bikini Bottom hit PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube in 2003, the year the popularity of the yellow sponge was at its peak, and some might call this period the “golden age” of the cartoon. So this title was in charge of capitalizing on this, and offering the public the experience of a traditional episode, but adapted to a game of almost 10 hours. The story of this experience could easily have been an episode in the series, which speaks to the great work of the original team in creating this adventure.
Plankton, in his relentless search for the cangreburger’s secret formula, has created an army of robots to defeat the Crustacean Cascarudo in the world of fast food. However, her creations are revealed and total chaos in Bikini Bottom begins. This is where SpongeBob, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks kick in, ready to exterminate this metallic plague and restore order to this underwater world.
Rehydrated continues to give us the same story. Nothing at all changes. Although 17 years have passed between the original release and the remake, Purple Lamp Studios has decided to keep this section practically intact. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, however, since the structure is divided into small worlds, each with its own problems, I would not have bothered to see the inclusion of any joke or character subsequent to what was available in 2003.
For example, there is a world that develops within a SpongeBob dream, here I would have liked to see Gary, the protagonist’s pet, in his talking and super philosophical version, or perhaps Patrick in his metallic pony, as in the episode Time to Sleep, or how about seeing Bob wear a seaweed mustache like in the first cartoon movie, instead of the generic mustache used. I mean, this doesn’t break the game at all, but it would take the fan service to a new level, and it wouldn’t just stay in “check out this image that refers to one of the first episodes” or “watch this animation of the SpongeBob meme “
Forgetting almost two decades of episodes can backfire for all those who decide to experience this game for the first time, especially for children who have grown up with a different or maybe even no SpongeBob at all. I am not asking for a radical change in the fan service or story, but a reference or character with which a new audience can be identified with would have been a nice addition.
At the end of the day, Battle for Bikini Bottom is focused on offering the public the usual interactions between SpongeBob and company, only now in an interactive way. If you are fans of the classic yellow sponge, then you have one of the funniest games on the market today. Every conversation, every dialogue, every reference is designed to make you laugh and they demonstrate why SpongeBob is still fun today.
However, there is one element of the script that sticks out more than a straw in a nest of needles. Every time the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom start talking as characters within a video game, it feels like a karate kick to the face because of how weird it can be. You go from a joking dialogue about a certain situation, to Squidward spitting exposure like an NPC from a 90’s game, it feels quite dissonant with the rest of the adventure.
But, at the end of the day, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated continues to offer the same fun story, filled with ridiculous character interactions that any fan of the classical era will come to appreciate. The game is a 3D platformer with an emphasis on item pickup, very Banjo-Kazooie- style . Now, Rehydrated does not change anything in this section. The design of levels, enemies, progression, bosses, movements, everything is preserved in the same way.
The game is divided into several levels that become accessible the more golden spatulas you manage to get. These items have the same functionality as the stars in Super Mario 64. Each world offers a main challenge, either finding certain objects or defeating a boss at the end, and along the way we received small missions that give us the possibility of getting more items necessary to advance.
In each level there are three important objects, the first are the golden spatulas, then we have Patricio’s used socks, with which we obtain more spatulas, and finally we have shiny objects, which work like game money, and with them you will obtain access to more spatulas. Again, if you have played Super Mario 64, or any other game in the genre, then you will know exactly what you are up against here.
The interesting thing is that we have three playable characters, Bob, Patricio and Arenita, each with their unique abilities that will be necessary to fulfill certain objectives. For example, Estrella is capable of loading and throwing objects. Cheek can drop in style and use its lasso to access certain platforms. Finally, Sponge has various abilities at his disposal, such as bubbles that you control from a distance. In all the levels you will have the possibility to use SpongeBob and one of his companions, and to change between them you will have to use bus stops that you will find in multiple locations.
Rehydrated also introduces a brand new multiplayer mode. This mode offers combat against a horde of evil robots in the company of a friend, either locally or online. The interesting thing is that the developers have implemented much of the content that was not able to be incorporated into the original game in this multiplayer, including a battle against a metallic Squidward and the possibility of using other characters, such as Plankton, Don Cangrejo and a couple more. However, I think it would have been better to include all of this in a new level in the game, rather than relegating this content in a way that not many people are going to experience.
If you are a fan of this type of platformer, you have to try SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated, especially if you have never had the opportunity to enjoy the original game. The game very much follows the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Rather than focusing on what can be changed within the genre, the focus is on creating a highly entertaining experience.
Now this game is a remake, not a remastering or port. Purple Lamp Studios has rebuilt Battle for Bikini Bottom from scratch using Unreal Engine 4, and it shows. 17 years did not pass in vain and Bikini Bottom looks spectacular. Character models, levels, enemies, and the rest of the elements have been given new life.
With the updated visual style, Rehydrated gives a more modern look to this adventure, without forgetting its origins, and each level makes this clear. The bright colors of the Jellyfish Fields are vivid and beautiful. In contrast, the Flying Dutchman takes us to a graveyard of ships full of mold and green water full of toxins. Each section of Bikini Bottom has been rebuilt to emphasize different visual aspects and add new ones. From the starry sky of the Algae Forest, to the Sand Mountains, the game looks beautiful.
However, the experience is not without some technical problems that, although they do not ruin the experience, they can be annoying. For example, when you die you will have to undergo a loading screen of almost 15 seconds, which can be frustrating, especially in a complicated platform section where you will constantly die. After waiting for the title to be ready to start again, you will see how the game loads the textures and for a few seconds the beautiful environments are transformed into horrifying spaces that seem to be taken from a bad PS1 game.
Likewise, although the overall experience runs at a solid 30fps, in the event that many elements are on the screen, the framerate will decrease for a few moments. Again, these are not serious issues that spoil the overall experience, and will likely be fixed with a future patch, but it’s important to point them out. At the end of the day, the mistakes are easy to notice, because 95% of the experience takes place in amazing environments that manages to take this cartoon to a new level.
Rehydrated is not only limited to a new visual aspect, but we also have a remastered soundtrack that gives new life to the classic melodies of the original game, although this section was never a strong aspect for Battle For Bikini Botton , due to the fact that we have to us original compositions and not those of the cartoon.
One of the biggest problems in the original game returns in this section. The soundtrack, although it manages to capture the essence of the cartoon by using instruments like the Ukulele, never reaches the level of the series. An average level lasts about 30 minutes, and during that time you will hear the same tune over and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, which can greatly affect the experience. There comes a point where you prefer to put on the SpongeBob soundtrack instead of listening to the original music from the game.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated lives up to its name. Not only does it make everything look prettier, it rehydrates it enough to breathe new life into this experience. In its purest state, the game continues to offer the same experience you remember, a 3D platform, but the new audiovisual aspect, attention to detail and the inclusion of lost content, make this experience an adventure worthy of 2020.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated remains a great platformer for fans of the cartoon or the genre. Though non-Spongebob fans might have a bit of a problem understanding the jokes and characters the game has to offer.