The first thing I noticed upon starting up Battle For Bikini Bottom (BFBB) was the use of the official theme tune which straight away set the perfect atmosphere as the main menu appeared. I then got the French narrator voice which was just perfect before Plankton introduced the plot.
The plot being how he has released disobedient robots that take over. SpongeBob believes he created the robot problem leaving the player (as SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy) the task of saving the day. It’s unique to the game and doesn’t just feel like a pile of references like in Truth or Square.
Working as a 3D collecting platformer, the game has SpongeBob explore Bikini Bottom and collect golden spatulas and shiny objects (that look like flowers) which will open the path forward to the source of the robots. There’re also Patrick’s old socks to collect. Sometimes the objects can be found in the world, sometimes a challenge, objective or puzzle must be completed.
Voice acting is done by the proper actors as you’d expect, apart from Mr Krabs and maybe Mermaid Man who don’t sound right for it. For some reason this took me out of the experience when I heard them speak.
BFBB has an open world but as you venture out a human hand grabs you and forces you back to the Taxi zone which takes you into the levels. The amount of open world you can explore depends on how far into the game you are as the available area expands after defeating the main bosses.
The exploration is quite good with recreations of many fan favourite areas of Bikini Bottom being available. The characters all have unique skills (SpongeBob stealth and bubble related skills, Sandy a lasso, Patrick strength based interactions). I found Sandy to be the most fun as she could compensate for bad jumps and had the strongest combat skills.
Combat is generally simple, taking one or two hits to defeat enemies with melee but all three characters have their own little quirks. As the game progresses more different types of enemy appear, some having special requirements to defeat in battle. Many of the special enemies have an AOE attack that seem to have range that goes further than their animation which can feel a little unfair.
Boss fights largely rely on a rule of three with giant jellyfish, evil robot bosses and even the ghost of the Flying Dutchman coming for a scrap. It’s fairly standard platformer stuff that has a few health pick-ups lying around.
The load times feel long which coupled with the general slow pace of movement makes the game feel dragged out. Combining this with the fact that elements of the map that have changed during play reset upon death results in a frustrating experience as you have to play perfectly to avoid mistakes and not have the waiting time or repetitiveness. The camera could also be uncooperative sometimes.
Overall, BFBB is a pretty strong game. It has a unique story, links to a popular TV show, multiple playable characters with some interesting ideas and map structures. It should be at least good but the slow pacing of the game with some frustrating design choices and lack of quality of life features really suck the fun out of it for me. The game is also much more challenging than a game themed on a children’s show probably should be. Good ideas with bad design choices lead to the game being no fun which just leave it being on the worse side of average for me.
The issues I had with this game would have been understandable in the original BFBB but this is remastered so should have had improvements.