The test of Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated for Nintendo Switch has to do without any further additions, at least in the heading. If there had been space, it would have said something like “high-gloss nostalgia beats innovation”. The waiting time for the remake was at least as long as the game title. Around 17 years after the platformer's first release, the squarepants are returning - this time to the current-gen consoles, the Nintendo Switch and the PC.


The squarepants are back: angular, yellow, silly - and he has brought all his friends with him. After it was first published in 2003, THQ Nordic is back with the THQ classic, which was released for Playstation 2 among others. Basically, Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated is reminiscent of jumping games like Super Mario Odyssey, but the slap factor is much larger, the innovation factor is noticeably lower. In general, that's not a shortcoming: The remake of the Spongebob classic is fun, for several reasons.

Squarepants style: outside nice, inside oldschool

You can definitely develop a kind of love-hate relationship with Spongebob. You can't deny the character's almost nostalgic charm. Klamauk-Sponge has been up to mischief on the screens for more than 20 years, and the series is not stingy with good gags. Implementing this for video gamers worked comparatively well in 2003. Even then it was clear: the brightly colored world of the template had found its counterpart in the video game variant.

Squarepants and friends hop around in a brightly colored game world. Screenshot: Spielpunkt

Squarepants and friends hop around in a brightly colored game world. Screenshot: Spielpunkt

The remake does not go any other way, on the contrary. It's at least as colorful, but visually neatly polished. The eye likes what it sees. Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated manages the tightrope walk between old-school presentation and high-gloss look. Developer Purple Lamp Studios does not rely on playful innovations, but on a consistent reworking of the old virtues.

In a playful way, the remake stays true to the roots of the original: players maneuver Spongebob through pretty 3D environments, always under the premise that the sponge has to keep the underwater world in order. Plankton has sent his robotic army to the bottom of the ocean so that the tinny bastards can wreak havoc in Bikini Bottom. So the fact is: Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated has a story. But it's also a fact: the story is pretty shallow. However, the plot is sufficient to promote the jumping adventure, especially since the younger target group can cope well with it.

The tasks are clear and interlinked. Patrick has to be saved first ...

The tasks are clear and interlinked. Patrick has to be saved first ...

The Spongebob adventure is aimed primarily at SquarePants fans, the target group of the series and those interested in the genre. And that's exactly what they are offered a rather entertaining platformer, which at least visually does not have to hide behind competitors like Super Mario Odyssey. Pretty cool and probably one of the essential factors for a successful presentation: The original voices breathe life into the characters. There is also a revised soundtrack.

Technically, the developers deliver a good performance. The game runs smoothly, there are hardly any stutters on the Nintendo Switch either, and the frame rate remains constant. Only the camera work could have been done again here and there. Sometimes it gets confusing, really annoying and rarely has an impact on the gameplay. Jump passages can be mastered easily, are fun and remind of the time when video games were still simple.

"Good morning world and everyone who populates it!"

Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated proves to be playfully straightforward, dispenses with frills - but still invites you to go on excursions off the beaten track. Collection orgies and small side tasks are waiting there. There is also some variance in places where players switch to the roles of Sandy or Patrick instead of Spongebob. Because each of the characters can fall back on some individual skills, the changes also have an effect on the game. While Sandy, thanks to Lasso, can overcome abysses, Grossnatur Patrick is an expert when it comes to throwing objects. The squarepants, on the other hand, slaughter itself with a jump attack. 

... then you can go through the levels with him yourself - there are no sprints.

... then you can go through the levels with him yourself - there are no sprints.

All in all, the SquarePants remake is as leisurely as it was 13 years ago. Here the developers could have shown more courage and applied modern gameplay standards, for example giving the characters a sprint function or softening the collecting process. Maybe you could have added new types or models of opponents to increase the visual and playful variety.

Nevertheless, it gets fast sometimes - for example on tongue descents.

Nevertheless, it gets fast sometimes - for example on tongue descents.

Anyway: Even in the nostalgic, slow version, the bouncy insoles are fun. Probably also because there aren't that many genre offshoots. Anyone who likes such platformer would see the remake as a more than acceptable gaming experience even without an additional Spongebob bonus. It is above all the charming tricks from the past that keep these games entertaining. The developers cannot be blamed for too little love or penchant for detail. Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated has been reworked in all the right places.  

A game not only for nostalgics

You don't have to have played the original to have fun with the new edition. You don't even have to know Spongebob SquarePants for this hopping adventure to be entertaining. Anyone who knows the template immediately feels at home in Bikini Bottom, but whoever thinks Mr. Krabs and Co for the new promotional products in the fast food restaurant will also be picked up - then not by the topic, but by the gameplay. The game ripples steadily and therefore unobtrusively overall. The developers don’t afford any gross blunders that tear the player out of the action. There is one exception, however: the loading times. The mandatory breaks when the hop ends up in the mud and you are returned to the checkpoint are a tad too long.

There are obstacles and sources of damage, but overall the level of difficulty is comparatively low.

There are obstacles and sources of damage, but overall the level of difficulty is comparatively low.

However, fans benefit twice as the recognition value of the sound and optics is immense. Even the intro makes connoisseurs smile. Because the Purple Lamp Studios also included previously unpublished content, such as the section “Patrick's Dream”, in the game, the remake is not just a copy, but a meaningful development. The new multiplayer part is also “sponge-tastic”. In a cooperative way, players can compete together - ideally in couch co-op - and choose from several iconic characters. Overall, the horde mode is something for real fans, because the gameplay wears out quickly.

Until the end of the game, Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated on the Nintendo Switch ensures many entertaining and a few monotonous moments. After a little more than ten hours, it's over, but the release price of just under 30 euros is completely okay. Purple Lamp have proven that old school doesn't have to be old-fashioned. Turned the right screws, the gameplay of the past can also meet modern demands. 

Infobox

Number of players: Solo / co-op multiplayer
Age: from 6 years
Playing time: 10 hours of play
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low

Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Purple Lamp Studios
Year of publication: 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation, Xbox One
Language: German
Cost: 30 Euro

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Summary

One can criticize Spongebob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated for the fact that nothing has changed in terms of play. The question, however, is: do you have to? If a classic concept works from a modern point of view, a purely audio-visual reconditioning might be the better way to revive a solid game from the past. The squarepants remake does not win an innovation award, but it does win the hearts of the fans. It's unlikely that today's mid-thirties will watch the next episode Spongebob on TV. They are much more likely to go on an interactive adventure on a PC or console - and that is exactly what counts. Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated contains a lot of fan service, but with its straightforward gameplay also grabs Spongebob inexperienced people. 

Players hop and knock through different levels, always along the respective main mission per area. The locations are chosen from a kind of starting area: the area around the well-known pineapple house. New areas can be unlocked with the help of golden kitchen spatulas, there is enough to discover - in the end, playful freedom remains more of an illusion. Nevertheless: The game entertains for around ten to twelve hours (sometimes stretched a bit by collecting tasks) at a constant level, although it lacks variety in some places, it is anything but badly aged. Such 3D platformers are - provided they are implemented properly - timeless. The modern, but above all successful, high-gloss look polishes the game up anyway. Basically everyone who likes jumping games can have fun with this jumping game. Spongebob SquarePants fans make it: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated but twice as much fun.

However, you shouldn't expect a profound underwater adventure with a winding story, varied opponents and linguistic diversity and playful challenges. But there is a cool sound that you like to play, and a grandiose look that makes it easy to “immerse yourself” in the game.


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