I’m never really sure what to do with kids games. I can’t review them from a child’s perspective and it’s not like I can fetch some kids to play it for me. Even so, I wouldn’t trust a kid’s opinion on anything. Kids have no sense of taste, no sense of experience and barely have an attention span. Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is, presumably, a thing for kids. Based on the Nickeloedeon cartoon and a spiritual successor to Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, Purple Lamp, the adult in me finds this to be a charming effort.
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake has a plot that wouldn’t look out of place in the show. The stakes are a touch grander with our hero causing a whole heap of accidental trouble that condemns Bikini Bottom into being torn asunder. With his usual can-do attitude, he has to right this wrong with his trusty Starfish friend Patrick.
Through the course of the catastrophe, the duo travels through seven themed realms in search of the other residents. There’s plenty of time for the cartoon’s unique brand of humour which lands more than I anticipated. The majority of the cast gets plenty of representation and it can feel like a cosy ensemble as they fire quips and interact with one another. Patrick and Spongebob hold things together nicely and the two’s chipper outlook does give the game a very light and comic tone. There’s not a lot of shocks or twists to uncover but I enjoyed the tale from start to finish.
Gameplay, much like Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, is splitting time between lenient platforming and simple but effective combat. A double-jump and glide arrives fairly early and it does mean there’s plenty of time to consider jumps. For the most part, it’s leisurely but the game explains new mechanics easily with pictured tutorials. There are quite a few new tricks to get through, too.
Combat begins with some basic strikes but escalates to include karate kicks which can also be used to enhance traversal. It really compliments the movement at times and helps keep Spongebob airborne in some of the more hectic encounters. At tines, it can have a good flow to it and making my way through the levels was straight-forward. Combat never gets too complex but boss fights do break up the usual monotony that can develop. To the game’s credit, these end each level and do seem to showcase Spongebob’s abilities well.
These levels all have a good variety to them and each one comes with a signature outfit for our protagonist to wear. One takes place in a medieval castle which has you scaling towers. One has you trying to complete a film shoot for the director Squidward. These all come with their own little interludes that ensure you’re not just hopping from place to place. There’s some thoughtful placement in terms of giving you something new and I do think the adventure’s paced fairly well.
There are a couple of instances where I ran up against some surprisingly tight platforming moments but the penalty for failure is pretty forgiving. The final boss presents probably the game’s sternest challenge it does well to intuit what’s required of the player. I don’t see this game frustrating many players. There’s some conveniences to aid navigation. The levels are all accessible from warp zones in Bikini Bottom but they aren’t clearly marked. Instead, you can find your way there through the pause menu. You can freely head into the levels and, if you wish, restart from a checkpoint of your choosing. It does speed up any completionist runs when you can skip to a point of interest.
Spongebob can adorn numerous costumes throughout the game. Some are handed to him at crucial points of the story but there’s plenty more to unlock. There’s two currencies used to do that with jelly being ubiquitous across the whole world. It’s plentiful and there was a point where I felt I was swimming in it. The other currency is coins which are collectibles found within the levels. These are off the beaten track or linked to side missions that usually take place within the Bikini Bottom hub. I didn’t find many of these but those curious will find plenty to look for. Once I found out these costumes were merely cosmetic, I lost interest scavenging for them.
I have seen some technical problems during the review period. I’ve seen a couple of crashes and had one goal during the film set level fail to trigger. A replay of the level sorted that kink out but I haven’t kept track of what patches may have dropped since. From my perspective, I’ve seen nothing fatal but it’s something to be aware of. For what it’s worth, a day one patch has dropped that may have fixed those issues.
The presentation is nicely done. As expected, it’s a bright cartoon world with all those larger than life characters shown in great 3D models. There’s ample opportunities taken to pull a quick gag with some smartly grotesque still images and the voice cast all deliver some sound work. They’ve done a good job translating the quirky personality of the show into a much longer experience. The lightness of tone really helps keep the atmosphere chilled and relaxed. The music maintains the laid-back, beachy score that the series is known for. It feels faithfully accomplished and definitely maintains a consistency that fans will appreciate.
There’s plenty to like about Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake. There’s a surprising smartness to the writing that, whilst it didn’t leave me chuckling, did put a smile on my face. Licensed games always have the potential to go sideways but the tone of the show has been well recreated. As a casual platformer, it delivers mild thrills and some occasionally interesting moments of traversal.
+ Varied gameplay.
+ Swiftly paced.
+ Carries a lot of the cartoon's quirky humour.
- At the time of reviewing, there were some technical hitches.
- Features a couple of tricky sections younger players might struggle with.