I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe
I never played the original version of this game, nor was I that into SpongeBob as a kid as I’m just a touch too old to have grown up with it. So, you can trust me when I say that this is a really good game. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s filled with a very specific type of gameplay nostalgia that just happens to be really hitting the spot at the moment.
Originally released in 2003 on PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, and Game Boy Advance, SpongeBob got a fairly average reception, but I think that’s largely due to the fact that it wasn’t doing anything better than the competitors around it. Things are very different now though, and it’s built up a bit of a cult following.
Back once again with the renegade (re)master
The remaster brings it up to date with shiny new graphics and a new multiplayer mode to boot. I wasn’t sure about the whole thing upon first diving in, but, to be honest, before I’d even left SpongeBob’s house I was pretty much all-in. SpongeBob Squarepants Battle For Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is very much a collectathon, the kind of game we got back in the PS2 and N64 days, and the kind of game that’s very hard to do nowadays, despite a few attempts with the likes of both Journey to a Savage Planet and Yooka-Laylee scratching a very similar itch.
Just adventuring around each of the levels is kind of great. There’s nothing award-winning here, it’s just good old fashioned game design. However, it’s good old fashioned game design where everything is absurd; you teleport using cardboard boxes, nobody can swim but it’s not water underwater, it’s goo, bubbles can eviscerate enemies, and Patrick has herculean strength.
It’s just all kind of stupid and wonderful, and I guess that’s exactly the energy that a SpongeBob game should have. You venture around the various levels collecting shinies, smelly socks, and golden spatulas, and your aim is just to do that, because it’ll end the robot uprising that Plankton caused by programming his army to not obey, for some reason. It’s absurd, and it’s great, and it’ll bring a big smile to your face.
No no, I’m the Scatman
Take the first boss, for example, who is the King Jellyfish, who SpongeBob ends up alerting by complimenting his singing voice. It’s not really singing though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Scatman in a game before, but apparently he’s a gigantic jellyfish for some reason. It’s a simple fight, you dodge attacks, hit it three times, and you’re done. You then zoom down a slide all the way to a golden spatula and the end of the level.
I don’t think any other part of the game encapsulates just what SpongeBob Squarepants Battle For Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is about so perfectly. It’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s not pushing anything forwards, it’s just good fun. It’s definitely a game aimed for the younger gamers out there, but I think, thanks to nostalgia and the horrific state of the world, that it should appeal to nearly everyone. The sheer undiluted joy that it delivers straight into your soul is exactly what we all need right now. So, are you ready kids?
[Reviewed on PC]
Jason is the Editor of The Indie Game Website. He’s a lover of roguelikes, soulslikes, and other kinds of likes. He basically spends a lot of time getting beaten up in games and seems to enjoy it.