GAME REVIEW | Wackiness Galore in SpongeBob’s "Cosmic Shake" Adventure
As licensing games go, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom ranks highly. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly two decades since that title first graced a GameCube, with one follow-up SpongeBob game after another failing to recapture that magic. Perhaps it’s a good thing Purple Lamp Studios — who developed the remake back in 2020 — was given a crack at making a proper successor to that game. The end result, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake, feels exactly like what a true sequel should be, albeit with a couple of minor flubs.
The Cosmic Shake begins after a day at the Glove World theme park. SpongeBob and Patrick meet the mermaid fortune teller Madame Kassandra, who sells them magic bubble soap that claims to make wishes come true. After goofing off with the soap, the duo discover that it belongs to King Neptune. Soon chaos erupts, with Bikini Bottom being ripped apart, and its pieces sent to various dimensions.
Now SpongeBob and Patrick — the latter of whom has turned into a balloon — must fix their shattered town. To do that, Madame Kassandra instructs them to collect Cosmic Jelly to help make costumes for SpongeBob to wear. With the right suit, SpongeBob and Patrick dive into various worlds to save the likes of Squidward, Gary, Sandy Cheeks, and even the pineapple that’s under the sea. But is Madame Kassandra helped the duo out of the goodness of her heart, or is she planning something nefarious?
One of the great things about SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Jelly is its story. The narrative and dialogue feel like they’re a part of the golden age of the classic cartoon. With an homage or two from the series’s best episodes in tow, Purple Lamp Studios manages to craft a story that’s not just entertaining, but also laugh-out-loud hilarious! From a certain bus stop in spooky Rock Bottom to the Flying Dutchman’s beloved socks, every little nod showcased fits terrifically with the narrative being told.
It also helps that the main cast from the show is also on-hand to play their respective roles. After all, it wouldn’t be the same without Tom Kenny’s iconic SpongeBob laugh, Brian-Doyle Murray’s evil Flying Dutchman cackle, and Bill Fagerbakke’s idiotically drolly Patrick. (I’m also excited hearing Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, as he wasn’t used in either Battle for Bikini Bottom nor its remake!) Not only does the voice acting sound natural, but everyone manages to add an extra oomph to the jokes and gags they recite.
As for the game itself, The Cosmic Shake manages to bring the best parts of Battle for Bikini Bottom to a new story. The powers SpongeBob learns — ranging from ground stomps to grappling hook skills — help to make this a title that not only delivers the silly, but also th exciting. Although it’s definitely tailored for a younger audience, there’s actually plenty of challenges on display for those who started watching SpongeBob back when it first premiered in…1999?! (Holy barnacles, it’s already been that long?!)
The game’s difficulty does a great job escalating as the narrative goes on. It starts with a bit of hand-holding in the Wild West Jellyfish Fields and Karate Downtown Bikini Bottom, as it gives players a chance to get accustomed to the controls and gameplay. But when Pirate Goo Lagoon arrives to navigate through, the challenges start coming in droves. From multiple enemy attacks to tricky paths, there’s plenty here that’s both exciting and — alas — frustrating.
Said frustration comes from a couple of the boss battles. It’s a shock to think that SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake has some rage quit-inducing fights, but did I ever come close in either the Sandy Cheeks or Pearl Krabs battles to chuck my controller through my TV! There’s also the issue with the main control layout, with me many times accidentally ground-stomping to a plummeting death when I meant to karate kick a high balloon. (Thankfully, players can map out the controls to a way that feels most comfortable to them.)
However, there are times where I felt like a level was a little too bare. Although there’s plenty to explore in these levels, the amount of times you face off against jelly enemies and other baddies sometimes comes and few and far between. While areas like Medieval Sulfur Fields and Wild West Jellyfish Fields have a lot of visual character to them, the lack of many enemies might make some spots in the game feel slightly boring. Thankfully, there’s plenty of side-quests and the like to keep you busy.
Searching for Plankton’s pet Spot, helping Squidward reclaim his vocabulary, and making Krabby Patties are just a few of the mini-quests one can do throughout the game’s 21-hour campaign. Players can also earn new costumes with the jelly they collect, on top of find other collectibles that are akin to SpongeBob lore. Plus, if one is bored, they can just easily run around Bikini Bottom whacking NPCs to hear their yelps of pain!
- Captures SpongeBob’s world wonderfully
- Fun powers and imaginative costumes & worlds
- Hilarious story, great voice acting
- Some areas lack solid enemies
- A couple of boss battles are tough
- Some control layout hiccups
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is the follow-up to Battle for Bikini Bottom fans have been waiting 20 years for. Although it does have some flaws, the overall game delivers loads of fun for players of all ages. Simply put, you’d have to be a real barnacle-head to not find the joy in what The Cosmic Shake has to showcase!
Promotional consideration provided by Evolve PR. Reviewed on the Xbox One.