SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Rebellion
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cartridge
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

Two things that are key for fully enjoying SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated:

  1. Being a fan of the series; and
  2. Having fond memories of the original 2003 game.

Two things I?ve never done in my life:

  1. Seen a single episode of Spongebob; or
  2. Played the the original 2003 game.

In fact, my only exposure to Spongebob — apart from the obnoxious memes — comes from the middling 2015 Vita game, Spongebob HeroPants, which I played about five years ago and of which I have zero recollection. Truth be told, I was interested in playing Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated largely because the original has such a devoted following in certain corners of gaming fandom, and also because I was hoping to get some understanding of why people love the series as much as they do.

Unfortunately, I got neither of those things here. As far as the series goes, sure there are all the usual characters being voiced by what Wikipedia tells me are mostly the regular voice actors, but what you get from them is, for the most part, little more than a couple of catchphrases repeated ad nauseum. There?s the odd cutscene, but they generally look flat and lifeless, and do little to advance the forgettable story. I now know exactly who Plankton and Gary and Sandy and all those other well-known characters/memes are, but going by this game I don?t know why people love them so much.

Obviously, I?m not going to judge the entirety of Spongebob fandom on the basis of this game, because that would be silly. I will, however, wonder about the people who hold SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom in such high regard, because after playing this Rehydrated version, I can?t say I get it.

The problem with this game is that it?s just-plain boring. It?s a 3D platformer where you?re just collecting lots and lots of things for no real reason. You collect spatulas, socks, steering wheels, underwear, and all kinds of other nonsensical items in service of a story that, again, is pretty underwhelming. And when it comes time to have a boss fight, it?s not like any of them help you — it feels like you?ve just collected all that junk as a way to pad out the game length.

I may have also been annoyed by…well, almost everything here, if I?m being honest. There are areas of the screen that you?re not supposed to enter, even though there aren?t any barriers or invisible walls indicating that — you?ll just go out of bounds, and then a hand will drag you off the screen and reset you in a playable area. Some (but not all) bad guys respawn constantly, which means that, given the amount of backtracking you have to do here, you?ll be beating up the same evil robots with annoying frequency. The game has major issues when it comes to animating water, which is a source of frustration seeing as Spongebob dies (or, more accurately, suddenly turns stiff as a board and slowly slides around until the game restarts at the last checkpoint) anytime he comes into contact with the stuff.

Basically, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is full of all kinds of weird little gameplay quirks that show this is just a reskinned version of a 17-year-old game. There?s nothing terrible about it, to be sure, but unless you?re coming in with fond memories of the original, you probably won?t find much here that?s worth your time.

THQ Nordic provided us with a SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+