- Developer: Purple Lamp
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
- Price: $29.99 / £24.99
- Release Date: 23/06/2020
- Review code provided by THQ Nordic
Introducing: Battle For Bikini Bottom Switch Review
Well here we are, halfway through what can only be described as one huge dumpster fire of a year and from those flames rises a hero. We may not have asked for him but, by Jove, do we deserve the sponge named Bob who happens to wear square pants. It has been 17 long years since the original Battle For Bikini Bottom was released and the guys over at Purple Lamp have given it a new lease of life with updated visuals and crammed it full of extra content that was cut from the 2003 classic and added a brand new multiplayer mode. So, does the Switch version make the cut like a prime Krabby Patty or does it stink of fish guts in a bowl of Chumbalaya from Bikini Bottom’s worst fast food restaurant, Chum Bucket?
The Premise is simple, Plankton wants to take over Bikini Bottom by creating killer robots to cause havoc in the quaint undersea town and you guessed it, steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. But not all goes to plan as the microscopic villain accidentally hits the ‘don’t obey’ switch on the Duplicatotron 3000. Ignoring all of Plankton’s commands, the robots have their own ideas. Spongebob and Patrick think they are to blame after wishing for real toy robots with Patrick’s lucky shell and feel guilt-tripped into rescuing the citizens of Bikini Bottom.
Who Lives In A Pineapple Under The Sea?
Behind the authentic feel of the game – complete with the original actors and their unique, wacky humour – is a solid 3D platformer. However, it is unfortunately plagued with issues from game-breaking bugs, illegible text, enemies and items popping in and out, and frame rate problems; especially when the camera is panning around the environment at the start of each level. It feels like Switch fans have truly drawn the short straw here with this port job, which is a shame. Yes, Nintendo’s hybrid console lacks the power and umpff of other home consoles, but I feel there should be no excuses for a platformer to look this bad considering the feats other games have achieved to run smoothly and look beautiful on the Switch.
An example of how bad the pop-in was, on my playthrough one of the bosses, the Jellyfish King, would disappear completely depending on where you would stand on the arena-style platform.
It isn’t all bad, though. Where the game really shines is the gameplay and the hilarious dialogue. It has open-world elements with Bikini Bottom being a central hub with each level starting at a taxi stop. To progress and unlock different areas, you need to collect golden spatulas. These can picked up in various ways, either by finding them dotted around the level or by completing objectives given to you by the NPCs. Bikini Bottom is split up into three areas. Once you have earned enough golden spatulas to open the barrier, the next hurdle to overcome is a huge boss battle. The robots have been hard at work to recreate massive mecha versions of the playable characters. They can seem intimidating at first until you quickly realise you are playing a kids platformer. Once you have figured out the sequence, the fight is over before it has begun.
The controls are simple but solid. Throughout the game when you learn new moves and different mechanics are introduced, you still feel in control at all times which can be a rare achievement in a 3D platformer. There were no stressful moments, even in places where you need to think fast like the downhill surfing elements; not once did I frantically button mash and move the controller around to jump aimlessly around the level to stay on a floating platform.
If Nautical Nonsense Be Somethin’ Ya Wish
As you can guess, you play a big chunk of the game as Spongebob. He has the ability to bowl bubbles and deploy torpedoes to hit hard to reach buttons and switches or take out enemies. But, there are tasks that can only be done with the help of a few friends: Patrick and Sandy. Patrick can pick up and throw objects which is useful when using pressure pads to keep doors open and Sandy can use her lasso for swinging and flying to get to those hard to reach areas that Spongebob and Patrick can’t. The main game lacks multiplayer which is a shame as a co-op mode would have been a great addition to the Rehydrated edition.
As a Nintendad, it would have been great to play through and experience the main story with the little one and maybe teach them a thing or two when it comes to platformers. There is a multiplayer mode, but strangely the developers have opted to add a ‘horde’ mode. You can team up locally or online to take down wave after wave of killer robots. This was fun with plenty of extra playable characters to choose from – even the infamous Gary – but it quickly became repetitive and lost its appeal leaving no reason to return.
Once the main story is over, there are plenty of reasons to return to the colourful, vibrant town of Bikini Bottom. From collecting all the golden spatulas or Patrick’s socks to beating citizens’ downhill time trials over at Sand Mountain, the game has quite a bit of post-game content. If you want to be completely disappointed and left deflated, you can always spend an age collecting 40,000 shiny objects to unlock the town’s theatre. The only thing keeping me motivated in completing the task was the thought of watching behind the scenes footage or maybe lost episodes of Spongebob but in reality, it was just a handful of screenshots from the game.
Then Drop On The Deck And Flop Like A Fish!
When playing through Battle For Bikini Bottom it is obvious the game has performance issues. I can count on both hands how many times I had to restart the game due to a black screen after loading a new level. You are also unable to 100% complete the game due to a bug stopping you from collecting a golden spatula after finishing an objective for Squidward.
Visually, the aesthetics are far from perfect with poor the framerate making you feel nauseous in places as the camera judders across the environment. Also, text on signs can be illegible which is reminiscent of the N64 days. And, one final moan before the review is over, the loading times can feel an age long, averaging around twenty seconds. This might not seem long, but if every level has four or five rooms that require loading, it means over a minute per level is spent twiddling your thumbs. The main menu and pause menus are pretty straightforward to navigate with the usual options you can expect to see, like turning subtitles on and off and volume controls. The map can take a while to get used to, but it will soon all click into place the more of Bikini Bottom you unlock.
Overall, Battle for Bikini Bottom is a solid platformer with tight controls and plenty of content to keep you and the little ones occupied for hours. The Rehydrated edition of the 2003 classic is packed full of bonus content which, unless you played the original, will go unnoticed and the lacklustre multiplayer mode will be forgotten about instantly. The game is let down by the overall performance and stability, but hopefully these issues can be rectified in a future update. It is a shame the problems weren’t addressed before it was released as the review would have ended up being completely different. The game is somewhat redeemed by the authentic feel of the TV show and hilarious script. Co-op multiplayer in the main story would have been much welcomed.
- Solid 3D platformer
- Original voice actors for that authentic feel
- Plenty of content to keep you busy for hours
- Hilarious script writing
- Plagued with game-breaking bugs
- Poor frame rate in cutscenes
- A little on the easy side
- Multiplayer felt like it was an afterthought
If you can get past the faults with the game, then there is truly good fun to be had as you explore Bikini Bottom. If you are a fan of the SpongeBob series then it is a must buy, but I would recommend considering other formats before settling on the switch version.