Bringing It Around Town!

HIGH The writing and look of classic SpongeBob.

LOW Textures look a little rough.

WTF What’s up with Mr. Krabs’ voice?

If there’s one trend I miss, it’s budget-priced licensed games. Sure, the few we get these days (Arkham, Spider-Man, Mordor) are grand action-adventures that collect accolades, but what I really want are the low-budget titles based on kids’ shows that used to be so common. Thankfully, THQ Nordic satisfied a bit of that craving with this unlikely remake.

Rehydrated is a polished-up version of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, originally released in 2003. In this 3D platformer, players control SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks as they investigate a robot invasion that’s overtaking the town. Players will navigate over a dozen levels based on locales from the show ranging from the iconic Jellyfish Fields to the absolutely extreme Sand Mountain.

Right off the bat, BfBB nails the style of the series. The script is (for the most part) solidly written and feels like a season of the show. There are delightful easter eggs everywhere for fans to discover, and most of the original voice cast reprise their roles, with the exception of Clancy Brown and Ernest Borgnine as Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man, respectively. Hearing Mr. Lawrence as the sinister Plankton is always a treat, and I commend the game for actually featuring Tim Conway as Barnacle Boy. The exclusions are weird, but what’s here works.

It’s good the presentation is so strong since the gameplay is as standard as it gets — though that isn’t a bad thing.

The main hook is that SpongeBob needs to collect golden spatulas to advance through the various levels. Environments are fairly open-ended, and players can complete any mission in any order. Certain missions require specific characters, each with their own abilities. SpongeBob can use bubble-related powers to access certain areas, while Sandy’s lasso allows her to clear large gaps, and so on.

There are a few things to collect besides the spatulas, but the gameplay loop never deviates from the same few tasks — push a button, jump a gap, or kill X number of robots. Even the boss battles don’t offer much variety, as they’re just giant robot versions of the three main characters that devolve into “hit the weak spot” three times.

It goes without saying that BfBB is quite easy, though I never found that to be an issue. It’s not taxing to play, and there’s a charm in exploring a world based on a show I loved. I finished the game with a collection rate of about 75%, and fully intend to do the cleanup.

Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is an enjoyable (if unremarkable) experience. We may not get as many low-budget licensed titles as we did back then, but this remake is sure to please players who still have a soft spot for that style of game, or for SpongeBob — either way, it’s a treat to revisit that pineapple under the sea.

Rating: 7 out of 10

— C.J. Salcedo

Disclosures: This game is developed by Experimental Gamer Studios and Purple Lamp Studios, and published by THQ Nordic. It is available on PS4, XBO, Switch and PC.  This copy was obtained via publisher for review and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 20 hours of play were devoted to the single-player and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ for Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief. It’s a game based on a kids’ show, so expect some mild cartoon violence and a few crude jokes. It is nothing too egregious for younger kids.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game is perfectly accessible for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, as there are subtitles and speech bubbles for every piece of dialogue, and no audio cues necessary for gameplay. Text cannot be resized. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. Left stick controls movement, the right stick controls the camera while the face buttons (square, circle, and triangle) control different attacks. The cross button allows characters to jump. The right bumper lets players interact with signs, vehicles, NPCs, and other parts of the world that deliver information.

Cj Salcedo
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