Licensed games are a tricky proposition. Most of them turn out to be so-so experiences. Many are rushed to meet some sort of deadline, while others are simple cash-grabs. That puts SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated in a weird position. Critics of the original game said it was alright, but not great. Despite that, I've been told by numerous people that it's a great game that left strong childhood memories. Which position is correct? Coming in as someone with no connection to the original, I can confidently say that nostalgia plays a large role in that answer.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is a game with a ridiculously long name, and it has a scope to match. Considering the original game's PlayStation 2 origins, there's a surprising amount of content on display. The developers at Purple Lamp Studios also add in a new multiplayer mode that supports couch co-op and online. They even went to the trouble of restoring some of the cut content from the original release, a welcome bonus in any remaster.
What Battle For Bikini Bottom Does Right
Battle for Bikini Bottom is a 3D collectathon platformer in the vein of so many licensed game from the early 2000s. Playing as SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy, you have to run around gathering items and fighting monsters. The world design is pretty spot on from a visual perspective. You feel like you're in the same Bikini Bottom depicted in the TV series. A lot of the music comes directly from the show, and the characters and enemies also feel spot on thanks to a majority of the voice cast returning back in the day.
Once you get past the SpongeBob set dressing, Rehydrated starts to take a nosedive. The controls are at least stable, giving players various abilities that help you explore. On the other hand, hitboxes are more of a vague suggestion than a concrete variable. Attacking enemies can sometimes clip you at the very edge of your radius and still hit. Meanwhile, a tight jump can take you to the very edge of what's possible only to send SpongeBob falling into a bottomless pit of despair.
There are some issues with the camera as well. In fact, there are a decent few times where it's more dangerous than the enemies. For instance, on the last sliding challenge, the camera positions itself so high that you can't see oncoming turns even when it's not blocked by flashy particle effects and seaweed. It's a real shame, as the sliding challenges are some of the best sequences outside this flaw. There probably should have been more of them.
Battle For Bikini Bottom Has Serious Padding
Battle For Bikini Bottom often stretches for time when you wish it'd get to the point. As you run around, you collect "shiny things" that unlock certain areas. The problem is that these areas aren't always optional, and the prices can be insanely steep. There's also an entire set of collectibles you can only get by paying inordinate amounts of these objects to Mr.Krabbs. This means that periodically, you have to quit levels to go and hunt down an arbitrary collectible. It feels like pointless grinding, and the character's slow speed makes backtracking for any reason that much more frustrating.
Then there's the character swapping. Each playable hero has special abilities that you need to utilize in order to progress. However, you can only swap characters in designated areas. Occasionally, this means teleporting to-and-fro to change characters if there's not a swapping point nearby. The worst case of this was when doing some late-game challenges. In some cases, you just have to guess who you need to be. Honestly, it's so defeating to get to a challenge only to realize you need to backtrack through thought platforming before you move on.
Brand New Multiplayer in Battle For Bikini Bottom
One of the most interesting additions to Rehydrated is a brand new multiplayer mode. In this mode, you select one of the 7 playable characters (some exclusive to this mode) and fight your way through waves of enemies battling a robot version of Squidward. It's nice that there's extra content, but this time may have been better spent making the single-player better. The mode gets repetitive quickly and goes on for far too long to be entertaining.
All-in-all, SpongeBob Squarepants: The Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is just too clunky and unrefined to enjoy unless you're already invested. If you played the original, you'll probably still love it even if it's filled with poor animations and glitches. When you die, your character just freezes and a hand comes out to pick you up. Nine times out of ten, the hand's position is completely wrong. There are almost no transition animations, you just appear in the next location. I also lost count of the times I glitched through floors, settings me back in some of the toughest levels.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated | Final Thoughts
If you're a fan of the original game, this is all certainly going to be water off a duck's back. However, if you have no emotional attachment SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is liable to leave you cold. There's nothing on offer here that hasn't been done better a million times by other 3D platformers. It's clunky, stiff, and just not all that funny or enjoyable. If you want SpongeBob then go and watch the show. If you want a decent 3D collectathon, then go and play Jak and Daxter. Trying to merge the two just makes for a combo meal worthy of the Chum Bucket.
TechRaptor reviewed SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
- Looks And Sounds Like A Spongebob Episode
- Functional Platforming
- Clunky Animations And Presentation
- Glitches Are Everywhere
- Heavily Padded
- Some Insanely Frustrating Segments