January 31, 2023
When you can play games like Super Mario Odyssey and It Takes Two, it’s hard to find the appeal of playing as a naïve sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. Despite the show airing for over 280 episodes, as well as three movie releases and well over 30 games, people still love him. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but I had more fun with it than I ever thought I would, proving there’s still something appealing about this massive franchise.
After acquiring some magical mermaid tears, SpongeBob and Patrick end up ripping apart the very fabric of existence and sending their best friends into different realms known as Wishworlds. That’s the basic premise and it all happens early on, giving you plenty of time to enjoy these realms in all their typical silly fashion. The humour of the show is present in every conversation and cutscene, and even when playing, Patrick’s quips will give you a smile or two. The majority of the original voice cast are in The Cosmic Shake, and it’s always a joy to hear them chat with you, even after so many years out in the ether.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is a good platformer. It doesn’t do tons of new stuff, and you’ve likely seen the abilities you’ll end up using being done before. Still, the colourful worlds offer plenty of variety in not just how they look, but the environmental traversal and gameplay. The camera viewpoint can occasionally change depending on the mission, and adds some nice tweaks to the standard rigmarole of getting around. Perhaps my favourite Wishworld was when you try to save Squidward from a Kung Fu movie set. One section becomes a kind of side-scrolling fight section, and it was a lot of fun.
Different abilities can be utilised in the Wishworlds, and they can help you to get around the environment or offer up new ways to fight enemies. I was surprised at how responsive some were, such as the karate kicks from the previously mentioned realm, however, the swinging from the Pirate world did feel a little awkward at times. These additional skills do help to take away from the monotonous combat of bashing the Square/X button, but you do get into somewhat of a satisfying routine of attacking, firing your bubble gun to trap enemies and open up pathways, and more.
I highly doubt SpongeBob SquarePants is made for platforming connoisseurs, though. It’s simplistic approach might not appeal to most gamers, but there’s still fun to be had, and Purple Lamp has tried to throw in other sections like the seahorse riding to give players a reason to keep on playing. Saying that, I let my daughter have a go with it, and she struggled to get to grips with some of the traversal, especially the pirate hook. Regardless, there’s a fair amount of variety in not just the abilities available, but also the way you can travel back to Wishworlds after you’ve completed them to go and collect golden coins and purple bubbles, both used to unlock new costumes.
This is another element to SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake that I liked. There’re tons of costumes to unlock, each one more ridiculous than the next. You’ll get new ones when starting a new Wishworld, but there’re still so many for you to work towards that it gives you a reason to go back and try to find more gold coins to reach higher tiers, and collect more bubbles to be able to purchase them. It’s a straightforward approach, but it adds more replayability. Combat might become more of a chore for veteran platformers, but the traversal is enjoyable enough to play through the same sections more than once.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake doesn’t introduce a ton of new ideas, but it’s still fun, and that’s what is the most important factor of any game’s appeal. The voice acting is great, offering the same kind of humour as the shows and movies, and it’s a pretty game with plenty of worlds all introducing new abilities and mechanics. If you love SpongeBob, you’ll enjoy this, but if you’re looking for something new or challenging, it’s probably best to stick to something else.
Fun to get around
Colourful and varied environments
Plenty of costumes to unlock
Combat becomes repetitive
Not too challenging
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake doesn't reinvent the wheel for platformers, but there's still lots to enjoy.