SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a nostalgia-filled time machine that brings back the golden age of the license while adding a fresh coat of paint.
From the release of the original Battle for Bikini Bottom back in 2003 to now, SpongeBob SquarePants has continued to be of the most well-known icons in pop culture. During the show’s golden age in the early 2000s, there were so many titles based on the little yellow square that it was hard to keep up. Battle for Bikini Bottom, being a part of that bunch, was a legitimately fun and charming 3D platformer for its time. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated brings both fans who have either grown up or are currently growing up with our favorite fry cook back to a gem of its time.
Naturally taking place in our favorite underwater town of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob must take action after an army of disobedient robots created by the dastardly Plankton quickly loses control of them. Using his trusty jellyfish net, SpongeBob travels to numerous popular locations from the show including Jellyfish Fields, the Poseidome, and Rock Bottom. Each level gives you a number of different tasks to complete which reward you with a Golden Spatula. Earning more Spatulas then unlocks new areas to explore. There are three different hub areas throughout and SpongeBob must defeat a boss to advance to the next section with each fight being narrated by the real-life news fish from the show.
SpongeBob is equipped with a number of different bubble powers that help you solve puzzles and destroy enemies, but he isn’t able to accomplish everything by himself. Depending on which location you are at, you can switch characters to either Patrick or Sandy with each having their own special abilities. Patrick is able to carry watermelons and other objects of interest while Sandy can swing through the air and hover across large gaps using her trusty rope.
The issue with calling Rehydrated a remake is because outside of visuals, that isn’t entirely the case. While I think the environments and main trio of playable characters look great, it still very much looks like a PlayStation 2 game. I believe their intent was to be as true to the original as possible, and as a huge fan, I like what they were trying to go for.
Most of the game features voiceover work with the majority of actors from the show reprising their roles. The only problem here is that the dialogue that’s included in Rehydrated is from the original Battle for Bikini Bottom. During that time, while the majority of the show’s cast was involved with the project, there were a few noticeable omissions including Clancy Brown’s Mr. Krabs and Ernest Borgnine’s Mermaid Man. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if those that filled their roles didn’t do so poorly to the point where longtime fans may grit their teeth because of it.
Even though the remake doesn’t nail everything, you can tell the developers at Purple Lamp wanted to do right, not by just the game specifically, but by the SpongeBob brand. To this day, SpongeBob remains to be one of the more referenceable and quotable properties in any medium, which has naturally led to the internet creating memes, GIFs, and reactions based on the property.
When exploring certain areas, it is noticeable that there have been new subtle references added to the game from the show. Some of these references hadn’t even come about during the release of the original game including the “Caveman SpongeBob” meme painted on a cave wall and “Handsome Squidward” being displayed as art in a museum.
Despite these nice touches, I did come across technical issues that normally happened after respawns where I fell off the map. It didn’t slow down the game at all or ruin the experience, but it did happen enough times that it is worth mentioning. Alongside that, SpongeBob repeats the same animations several times throughout depending on how he is emoting, which grew bland rather quickly.
A completely new addition to Rehydrated is multiplayer allowing you and a friend to battle waves of robots whether it be online or in person. The big issue here, however, is that it really has no point in existing? Of course, it is great to be able to play a game with a friend, but no matter which character you use, you are only given two different attacks. Not even SpongeBob has his bubble powers from the campaign. Immediately, the mode becomes mindlessly dull with little-to-no variety.
Playing online can also prove to be frustrating as both my teammate and I found ourselves lag-jumping around the screen, which would then lead to us either getting hit due to an unknown reason or falling off the stage to our deaths. After defeating a number of waves, you are told to go to the next island to face the next group, but there is no indication as to how many you must survive before winning. There are said to be 26 islands in total, but the mode does a poor job of conveying this. There is also no penalty if both players die as you both will just respawn a few short seconds later. The whole experience left me asking, “What’s the point?”
The fact of the matter is that SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is made purely for nostalgia. It’s a nostalgia that, for those like me, regardless of their current age, love SpongeBob and always will. As a 3D platformer, Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is competent when it comes to making a fun, enjoyable experience that becomes more and more difficult as you progress. It does its job while allowing those to remember all the great times they had watching SpongeBob and have a blast doing so.
The poor excuse of a narrative that the game has really doesn’t matter because fans just want to run around Bikini Bottom (and push it somewhere else!!) and visit its memorable locations to find the endless references that they grew up loving almost twenty years ago. SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated may not have brought much new to the table, but it did bring exactly what it needed.