Spongebob's: Atlantis Squarepantis - GBA - Review
SpongeBob’s Atlantis Squarepantis is one of the more diverse multi-platform games released this year. Not so much because the series accomplishes many great things, but because each version differs greatly in mechanics, objectives, and level design.
The version in question, made for Game Boy Advance, falls in between the Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 versions. Part adventure game, part mini-game collection, this is the best one for parents wanting to give their young kids (6 or younger) a simple game with familiar images.
A Difference You Can See
One of the commendable things about Atlantis Squarepantis is how it diligently tries to utilize each character in a unique and important way. This is similar to the DS version, which featured four playable characters – SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, and Mr. Krabs – and a specific move set for each. The GBA version has those as well, and while I don’t want to say this one is more expansive, it may appear that way in its approach. That’s because the team moves differ not by which of the two characters you are currently controlling, but by which two characters are paired together.
Like excited teens at a punk rock show, Patrick and SpongeBob like to jump around. Thus, their team move is a jump/butt stomp. The stomp comes in handy when faced with brick barriers that stand between you and an underground passage. Combine Patrick with Sandy and he’ll be thrown like a boomerang. This is similar to the special move featured in the DS version, except that it is primarily used to flip switches that are unreachable either by length or by a wall that Patrick’s body has no trouble penetrating.
Atlantis Squarepantis also informs us that Mr. Krabs is a helicopter enthusiast. When paired with Sandy, he’ll spin like a madman, eventually gaining enough momentum to lift him and his partner into the air. On the other hand, he stays firmly on the ground for Patrick. Their team move is another one you’ll recognize from the DS version. Patrick enlarges his muscles, looking like one tough starfish, and holds Mr. Krabs by his legs. Mr. Krabs is then free to use his claws like a sharp utensil to remove blockages growing under the sea.
Mr. Krabs is also a helpful ally to SpongeBob. Together they are able to double jump into the air, as SpongeBob uses his squishy body to thrust them twice as high as a normal jump.
Only one pair remains: Sandy and SpongeBob. Sandy’s karate kicks and relentless combos give a hint as to what their team move may be, but you won’t know for sure until you see it. When joined as one fighting machine, Sandy grabs SpongeBob and slams his body through thick barriers. SpongeBob looks terrified throughout the ordeal, but he comes out looking as good as new every time.
These joint character mechanics are utilized – sometimes too frequently – to navigate the game’s simple maze designs. Atlantis Squarepantis also features mini games, but these are not the highlight of the game. One involves the reiteration of button icons as they scroll across the screen. It’s a Dance Dance Revolution knock-off without the dance pad or entertainment value. The music is catchier than what plays in the PS2 version, but that is by no means a compliment.
Another mini game dares you to collect coins as they fall. First you have to shoot the fake coins back up into the air to convert them to bronze, then to silver, and finally to gold. You can collect the others, but they yield fewer points, and the fake ones don’t award any points.
There’s a bubble positioning game where you have to tap the A and B buttons to keep a bubble in the middle of the screen, and another mini-game where you’ll bounce Mr. Krabs off Patrick’s stomach. The Sandy attack-fest isn’t too bad – just pummel your enemy till it falls. But the Mr. Krabs rocket game is terribly cumbersome, forcing the player to control him through a narrow area using control mechanisms that defy video game norms.
On the bright side, the mini-games are short and do not make up the bulk of the game. Most of your adventure will be spent doing just that – adventuring. This isn’t the mainstream SpongeBob game its Nintendo DS counterpart turned out to be, but should be a good fit for kids looking for short bursts of amusement.
Review Scoring Details for SpongeBob’s Atlantis Squarepantis
Cool team moves and simple puzzle solutions are the primary sources of Atlantis Squarepantis’ entertainment value. The mini games don’t provide much fun, but they are easy and do not take long to complete.
Very good by GBA standards. Lots of character detail, creative animations, and a fair amount of background detail and diversity.
No need to grab headphones for this one.
Easy enough for most kids to grasp.
Atlantis Squarepantis takes advantage of the SpongeBob license with a multitude of unique, character-specific actions. It’s not as good or as varied as the Nintendo DS version, but still comes out a winner.
The Nintendo DS version is the right choice for most gamers. But if you’re looking for a simpler game that doesn’t have as many enemy encounters but is still fun and creative, Atlantis Squarepantis isn’t a bad buy for the Game Boy Advance.