In 2003, THQ published what would become a deeply beloved platformer for the PS2-era. After years of begging, THQ Nordic has now revived the cult classic for a remake in the form of Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. Yes, we know that’s a mouthful.
In Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, robots have conquered the city of Bikini Bottom. Spongebob and friends set out to figure out the cause behind all this and put a stop to it.
Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a pretty simple yet almost always fun platformer. The combat is basic with most enemies dying in one or two hits, that’s not to say it’s not fun though. They’re easy to take down but they’re still relatively challenging. Some areas have machines that endlessly respawn robots until you destroy the machine, some force you to juggle between strikingly different enemy types, and so on.
Over the course of the 8 – 10 hours it took for me to finish Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, the combat never became dull. New enemies are being introduced up until the end of the game and the vast majority of boss fights are interesting and engaging. There are a few that aren’t exactly anything too exciting (like the one with the Flying Dutchman) but there are a handful of really great ones.
You’ll also find yourself actively needing to switch between different characters to complete each level. Sandy is used to traverse across big, long gaps in the platforming sections, Patrick is used for a lot of puzzles (ironic, considering his braindead energy), and Spongebob is used for a healthy mix of all types of gameplay. All of these characters can be used in combat but some are much better equipped than others for specific situations.
There are other fun types of gameplay such as long slopes where you have to slide down, breaking tikis for in-game currency and beat other character’s record times for golden spatulas. It’s a welcome way to diversify the standard gameplay and shake things up.
One of my favorite parts of Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated was that I could explore it mostly at my own pace. It has a Metroidvania style to it in that a lot of levels can be explored in different orders. Some can only be accessed once you get further in the game but you’re still given the freedom to explore and do what you want in each level.
All the levels are pretty well designed too and balance themselves out with unique tasks. There are a few that repeat throughout the game but it can be forgiven due to it staying true to the original game and it’s a collectathon platformer.
The only level that really stood out as being particularly bad was Rock Bottom. Everything looks so similar and I found myself getting disoriented just by turning around in the environment. It lacked any real clarity and I rushed through it to do the bare minimum so I could scratch it off my checklist.
I usually don’t like to call attention to price in my reviews but the game retails for a pretty comfy $29.99 on every major platform. It’s not a typical $60 game and that’s good, it is definitely a smaller budget title but one that still packs heart and fun. Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated feels like more of a remaster than a remake, it’s still pretty much the exact same game from 2003 with a new coat of paint.
The cutscenes are exactly as you remember them with updated visuals, which includes the awkward pauses and dead air for a few seconds at the end of each one. I also remembered stories were structured pretty poorly back in 2003 for many games. In Battle for Bikini Bottom, it feels like the story is happening separate from what you’re actually doing in gameplay.
You’ll walk into a new area like a new city block in Bikini Bottom and be teleported to the Posidedome.. for seemingly no reason other than because it’s time for a boss fight. I went to go to the Chum Bucket and this happened once again, it teleported me to a boss fight in some industrial area with a really jarring cutscene. There’s no real flow to the story and while the story isn’t that substantial to this game, it never failed to feel a bit out of place. Sure, the jokes are funny but it felt super disjointed and out of place.
Keeping in line with things that feel out of place is a carryover from the original game. The voice-overs are the same as they were in 2003. This includes those for Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man who are voiced by a noticeable poor man’s impersonator of both of these characters. While the actor who plays Mermaid Man passed away and can’t record new lines, Mr. Krabs’ Clancy Brown is still alive and well. It would’ve been great to get him to finally come in and do those lines he never did in the original, especially since he’s doing games like Detroit: Become Human.
That said, the rest of the Spongebob cast is here and their performances still hold up. I feared maybe the jokes wouldn’t land since I’ve grown up and haven’t watched the show in well over a decade but surprisingly, I got plenty of audible laughs from Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. It has that stupid, irreverent humor of the show’s early days that’s strangely charming.
My biggest problem with Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is that it has a lot of really strange bugs. I’m unable to get 100% completion right now as a golden spatula glitched out and disappeared right as I went to grab it, not giving me the credit for it. On the flip side, I acquired a task for Mrs. Puff in Kelp Forest and before I could even leave to go start doing it, she thanked me for completing it. I got an achievement and the golden spatula for completing the task… but I never actually did anything.
To make it even stranger, I was still able to collect the lost kids she wanted me to find despite the game believing I had already done so. There are a variety of other bugs and glitches such as your character being able to randomly clip through objects, sometimes causing you to fall to your death. I frequently found myself baffled or frustrated by some of these increasingly weird issues but hopefully, they can be ironed out in patches.
It’s also worth noting that Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated includes a brand new two-player horde mode. This mode can be played online or split-screen but we didn’t get the opportunity to play it prior to embargo lifting for this review.
Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated definitely shows its age in this “remake”. It has a weirdly structured story, a few subpar boss fights, some bizarre bugs, and some other elements that could’ve used some proper touch-ups. That said, it still delivers on being a fun and easily accessible platformer that captures the heart and soul of the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon.