Recently, the spiritual successor to the timeless classic of Battle for Bikini Bottom hit the market. Cosmic Shake plays very similarly to the aforementioned fan favorite, and this has been clear since pre release videos of it were being seen. So, how does it stack up to its predecessor?
As always, let’s talk about the pros and cons, beginning with the former. Because it is meant to be a spiritual successor to Battle for Bikini Bottom, frequent comparisons will be made between the two.
Despite how brilliant BFBB did it, Cosmic Shake’s visuals exceeded it easily. This was by far the biggest positive of the game as a whole. The way this game is presented is both consistently stellar and fresh. We begin with a train heist in the Wild West, eventually climb a series of obstacles in Karate Towers-fashion to fight Sandy, traverse the seven seas with a peg leg to fight Admiral Prawn’s forces on behalf of the Flying Dutchman, then end off trying to rescue Patrick from the clutches of a deranged kidnapper, one who has a deep rooted jealousy to SpongeBob and put pictures of himself cropped over SpongeBob all over the map. Simply put, each map’s visuals tell their own story almost without needing to say anything at all. S tier stuff.
Despite being marketed towards kids, this game’s selection of five boss fights are actually relatively intricate and original from one another. The King Gary boss stands out as being probably the most creative way ever to experience smashing vending machines. There is one exception to this pro which will be identified later, but in general, bosses were well done in this game.
The areas didn’t just look nice, they all played pretty well too. It seems Jellyfish Fields is just a good place to have a tutorial level, because both BFBB and Cosmic Shake nailed it in that regard. Karate Downtown Bikini Bottom interestingly presented a surprisingly great and interesting take on a side-scroller. Weaving in and out of cannon-shot pie bombs on Pirate Goo Lagoon really added a lot to the parkour and enemy slaying that mainly took up a lot of that map. The experience slightly diminishes towards the later stages of the game, but early to mid world design was incredible.
Of course, this game is as niche as niche gets. But it’s a niche around an extremely popular franchise that has been going strong for over twenty years. As such, loading up on fan service is just common sense, and THQ Nordic answered the call here. There are countless instances of references and easter eggs stemming all across the franchise’s history. To name a few, we see yet another classic instance of SpongeBob trying to get candy from a Rock Bottom vending machine, only for a brief cutscene to play showing a bus driving to and quickly away from his position. Hilariously, there are Sea Bears which occasionally show up as environmental hazards. Within the Halloween Rock Bottom, we see a return of Tom, the famous “chocolate guy” from older, classic SpongeBob. To cover even most of the fan service in the game would be an article series all on its own, to give an idea.
This game was a truly entertaining experience. But it wasn’t quite perfect. Let’s take a look at its shortcomings.
Unfortunately, Madame Kassandra is a very underwhelming villain in this game. It is very obvious right from meeting her that she’s not terribly well-intentioned. This isn’t clear to SpongeBob and Patrick, who continue to do her bidding that’s being disguised as taking her advice on how to save Bikini Bottom from dimensional destruction. Of course, SpongeBob and Patrick being ignorant in comically exaggerated fashion isn’t anything new, so this was good and fine. However, “the reveal” simply ended up falling flat. The final boss fight was sadly quite thematically underwhelming. Without providing spoilers, let’s just say that it’s at least fun and engaging to actually fight, but it narratively makes Kassandra feel unimportant. Perhaps THQ Nordic felt simply using Plankton as the antagonist for the hundredth time would’ve been lazy or uninspiring. What a shame.
This would probably be the biggest thing that Battle for Bikini Bottom just beat the brakes off Cosmic Shake in. Side quests are simply dull and uninspiring, considering that every single one of them is just an elaborate fetch quest. BFBB had an incredibly wide variety of side quests that really made engaging with a map more fleshed out and interesting. Cosmic Shake just uses these as an excuse to occasionally detour to a previously explored map and go back to a spot where an item will now be.
This somewhat plays off of the previous point, but there is no real reason apart from being a completionist to return to a map. If you don’t care about that Platinum trophy, returning to a map adds nothing new in terms of gameplay that makes it worth the time to go back. This is a shame, as the Wild West Jellyfish Fields map was probably the best map this game has to offer, and it’s the tutorial level. In BFBB, there are multiple important collectibles and a side quest within Jellyfish Fields that provide very good reasons to come back later.
Yes SpongeBob, for the 20th time, I agree that the Krusty Krab pizza must be the pizza for you and me. I get it Admiral Prawn, the ‘Crying’ Dutchman probably sounds catchier than ‘Flying’. For the eleventh time Twitchy, we’re sorry you never got an invite to the ball. Oh what, I have to hear those voice lines about a hundred more times? Why? In all seriousness, while the ‘quality’ of voice line is good and fine enough, it becomes difficult to appreciate this when the same line is repeated over and over again, which this game has an annoying tendency to do. The aforementioned Admiral Prawn tidbit is where it gets to be at its worst, as this is him just spamming the same three cringey taunting lines over and over again for a period of about 10-15 whole minutes.
Considering the pros and cons, a grade of a B+ makes sense. This game has many more peaks than valleys, but enough of the latter to stop it from gaining any serious attention considering it’s fairly niche. Given its modest price tag of $39.99, this one is probably worth picking up for the average SpongeBob fan.
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