A Pretty F-U-N Time

HIGH Solid writing and breezy platforming.

LOW Performance issues, at least on Switch. 

WTF Clancy f*cking Brown!

For a certain generation, SpongeBob SquarePants quotes are a social currency. The same way that programs like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Seinfeld have infected the lexicon of millennials and Gen-Xers, Gen Z absolutely loves SpongeBob. I’m definitely in that camp and it’s still something I quote often, so naturally a new game based on the property was something I was eager for. 

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a brand new 3D platformer developed by the same team behind SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated (a title I reviewed back in 2020).

Taking place in Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and Patrick find themselves in the middle of a multiverse mess after an encounter with a mermaid fortune teller. Each of the main SpongeBob cast has been transported to different worlds in a series of disconnected universes, with each of their roles ranging from noble to absolutely dastardly. Now, the two are tasked with restoring the now-disrupted Bikini Bottom and saving their friends from being lost in the multiverse.

Gameplay-wise, Cosmic Shake feels similar to the Bikini Bottom remake in that players control SpongeBob who has different abilities like a ground pound, a bubble projectile, and a swing move that works when he’s near certain hooks. However, while the gameplay and mission structure of BfBB is more open-ended and reminiscent of old-school collect-a-thons, Cosmic Shake is a little more linear, offering an experience separated into distinct levels with specific objectives. 

For example, the very first section is a cowboy-themed one where players need to track down an outlaw version of Mr. Krabs being hunted down by the sheriff — a cactus soda-loving Sandy Cheeks. It’s all ridiculously charming stuff that gives the player an excuse to run around while following a specific objective (in this case, juicing different cacti) and to occasionally fight some enemies. It’s the standard platformer stuff I love, but with a coat of remix paint on top. As such, I enjoyed the gameplay loop, even if it wasn’t too inventive.

In between the platforming segments are a few minigames like a soda chugging contest, along with a host of other, fairly creative levels. My favorite was a movie studio where Squidward is an impatient and pretentious director making a martial arts film. What made this level cool was the fact that a whole chunk of it was played in 2.5D perspective, like a beat-’em-up. Fighting enemies in a backlot while getting yelled at by an angry director was entertaining, and I was sold. 

While I can deal with generic level design between the minigames, some minor technical issues on the Switch did get annoying. For example, there were instances of slowdown, longer loading times, and texture pop-in. It was nothing gamebreaking and it didn’t ultimately impede my enjoyment, but it’s just a shame to see something so bright and colorful exhibit these issues.  

What wa solid, however, was the cheery presentation I just mentioned — especially the art style and humor. Using the groundwork of BfBB, the character models look great. I love how expressive and over-the-top they are, with the voice cast from the TV show popping in as well. Hearing Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs after being absent from the last remake was a treat, and everyone else was just as good. It felt like watching a SpongeBob feature-length film. 

The humor of Cosmic Shake is just as good. Everything feels like it caters to the fans, from the horrifically detailed freeze-frame shots, to the loading screens displaying the “One Second Later” title cards from the episodes. I also loved how sarcastic all the NPCs were, mocking the player in a SpongeBob vein and making very meta jokes about the game itself. 

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is the kind of thing I love to champion — a mid-budget licensed platformer with a few rough edges that could have easily existed in the ’00s. Sure, it’s not breaking any new ground and could use a little polish when it comes to level design and performance on the Switch, but the final product is a joyous ride from start to finish. For fans of the series like me or anyone else who can’t get enough of that yellow sponge, this undersea multiverse adventure is worth checking out. 

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by THQ Nordic and developed by Purple Lamp. It is available on PS4, XBO, PC, and Switch.This copy was obtained via the publisher and was reviewed on Switch. Approximately 10 hours were spent in single-player and was completed. There is no multiplayer mode. 

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 for Comic Mischief and Fantasy Violence. The site reads: This is a 3D platformer game in which players help SpongeBob and Patrick rescue their friends transported to parallel worlds. As players explore themed worlds (e.g., Wild West, Medieval, Halloween), they complete objectives, interact with characters, and engage in melee-style combat with enemy creatures. Players use bubble-wand spin attacks, ground pounds, and karate kicks to defeat jelly enemies in frenetic combat. Combat is highlighted by cries of pain, screen-shaking effects, and mild explosions; enemies generally burst into bubbles when defeated. One sequence depicts trucks filled with manure.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles present in the game, as well as visual cues during gameplay. Subtitles can be adjusted. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The controls cannot be remapped.

Cj Salcedo
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