by Camrin Santchi
reviewed on PC
SquarePants back in fashion
It is always apprehension, yet excitement when a game that is remembered fondly, is remastered. Will it do those memories justice, or will nostalgia have blinded us to fatal flaws in games that we loved? SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is the remake of a game from 2003, so those who played it on the Nintendo Gamecube, PS2, or Xbox are now able to play it on the modern iterations of each console, as well as on Steam and the Epic game store. This gives PC gamers the chance to see all the long-beloved nautical nonsense on the PC for the first time. But is SpongeBob all washed up, or have the tides turned in favor of this remaster?
Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated stars a playable cast of SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks as they fight through 13 levels of familiar sights around Bikini Bottom, from the Mermalair to Goo Lagoon, Rock Bottom amongst others.In the game, Plankton has created a robot army in yet another attempt to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula, but accidentally lost control of them, leaving it up to SpongeBob and friends to defeat them and save Bikini Bottom, and along the way meet up with classic characters such as Mr Krabs, Larry the Lobster and Gary.
Rehydrated has a ‘hub’ style of gameplay, with a main area of Bikini Bottom allowing SpongeBob to explore and give access to each of the levels. Bosses appear in between each of the three areas of the hub as well as the end of a few of the other levels. These bosses - King Jellyfish within Jellyfish Fields or Prawn, Mermaid Man’s apparent nemesis from within the Mermalair area – provide for a worthy challenge.
On sea level
The level design is fantastic in Rehydrated, each of the levels offering a different tone. They each introduce specific mechanics that make gamers need to master their abilities as each character. Each level has you take the role of SpongeBob, with the other characters - Patrick or Sandy - enabled depending on who is best suited to maneuver within the level. Sandy’s aerial maneuverability and Patrick’s ability to throw objects and hit distant switches or foes will determine who is selected as SpongeBob’s companion. An addition into Rehydrated game is the ‘sneak’ button. One of SpongeBob’s character-specific abilities allows him to sneak up on foes. In the original game this was done by lightly tapping on the control stick, but in Rehydrated there is a button for the task, which is a welcome inclusion.
Another change is the addition of a multiplayer mode, where two characters fight through waves of enemies. These waves take place upon supposed level designs that were scrapped from the original game. The inclusion of a Mecha-Squidward boss – one that wasn’t in the original final product is a nice touch. It shows that Rehydrated isn’t just a new coat of paint on an already impressive game of the past.
There are a heap of references to the cartoon within the game. Within many areas there are pictures that reference SpongeBob episodes, from a cave painting of Patrick from the caveman episode, to a picture of ‘Handsome Squidward’ within his own home, which are sure to garner chuckles from eagle-eyed fans of the series.
The game is not without flaws though. One flaw lies with the hit boxes, which can be difficult to get used to. Two techniques that SpongeBob acquires later on in the game (The Bubble Bowl and the Cruise Bubble) can sometimes bump into objects that are not there, causing gamers to fail if what they are trying to accomplish requires precision. Another hit box issue stems from an enemy type that shoots tartar sauce at your character. They will often recover after an attack in time to shoot at you and do damage before they are able to be hit again. Both of these are manageable given time to learn how to adapt, but they can be frustrating.
Another flaw would be the limited amount of voice lines used throughout the game. After the first few levels even the most ardent lovers of Tom Kenny’s SpongeBob voice may grow impatient with the recycled lines for fights, or animations while in conversations. The music is catchy though and fits the tone of the beloved cartoon, although on occasion it can be a bit generic and repetitive. In particular, some of the boss music tunes are on the generic side for an otherwise creative soundtrack.
In all SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is a welcome return for those entering Bikini Bottom again, and an enjoyable journey for those visiting for the first time. Although there is a touch of nostalgia in revisiting the game for me, the additions that Rehydrated brings makes it a delightful game with plenty of heart and fun.
Great Controls, Catchy Music, Reinvigorated Graphics
Wonky Hit boxes on specific moves and enemies, Repetitive dialogue/animations