Review — Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake

Large Cosmic Shake, Extra Nostalgia, No Pickles

Overview

Developer THQ Nordic
Publisher Purple Lamp Studios
Genre Action Adventure
Platforms PS4 (reviewed), PS5, XBOX, Switch, PC
Release Date January 31, 2023
patrick and spongebob talking to a mermaid
Me too, Patrick!

From the studio that helped port Sea of Thieves, and brought us Battle for Bikini Bottom: Rehydrated (BFBB:R) comes a spiritual sequel. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is more, and in some cases less, like BFBB:R, and overall feels like a celebration of SpongeBob SquarePants as a franchise. Let’s review what I mean.

Content

There’s cartoon-y violence, and bathroom humor that one comes to expect from the show.

spongebob and patrick talking about spooky things

Guide

After another great day at Glove World, SpongeBob and Patrick wander to a traveling curio wagon, and find a mystical bottle of wish-granting bubble soap. What they didn’t know is that every wish they proceed to wish for comes true. Destroying the Jellyverse and scattering their friends through multiple dimensions, it’s up to The dynamic duo to save everything.

Restoring the Jellyverse requires jumping through dimension portals to worlds of varying themes like the old west, or Halloween, pirates, or caveman. In retrospect this sounds very similar to The Lego Movie. In order to get in, Kassandra, the traveling gypsy who owns the wagon, must give you a costume to fit said world. Moving on to the next world merely requires finding one of SpongeBob’s friends that the world was meant for. This confused me for a bit, because everyone was always there, playing different parts. In the movie world, Squidward was the director of the movie, but the person you end up saving and bringing back is Sandy. Players will bring back Squidward in another world, that I presume is the “alpha world” Squidward? 

Multiverse, am I right?

spongebob famous surprise face

Anyway, the multiverse worlds teems with platforms, vehicle segments, combat situations, tongue-slide tracks, secret collectables, and optional missions mostly out of reach for a later skill to be learned. Players will notice that SpongeBob is the only playable character this time around. This was kind of a middle feeling for me. Sure, I don’t mind playing one character, I’ve done it before in games, but Sandy and Patrick in BFBB:R were kind of fun at times, and offered a variety. But variety still exists in Cosmic Shake. New mechanics involve riding seahorses to get around, and this can be for getting around Bikini Bottom, or through vehicle segments in the levels.

spongebob sipping soda
Dr. Kelp cherry on the rocks!

New skills are added to the roster, such as a glide (via Krusty Krab Pizza) that compliments the new ledge grab SpongeBob comes with. He can also perform a dodge roll! There are also bubble surf boards that can help him reach inaccessible areas, a karate kick that will home in on enemies or specially marked items (balloons or signs), and tossing bubbles for capturing enemies temporarily.

Combat is worthy of mention because for the first time, I understand what people mean when they say combat can be stale. The jelly monsters in Cosmic Shake require different ways of defeating them. Muscle heads can only be hit after their attacks. The little shell things need to be stunned via karate kick before dispatched. Mayonnaise rangers are easily taken out by being bubbled up, but spawn jelly goops will counter-attack stun after being hit, and so a dodge roll is needed to not get caught. And when all of these guys are on the same field at once, it can offer a challenging experience. The same can be said for the new gimmicks all coming together, flying through the air via karate kick and bubble surfboard. In the end, the game ramps up in difficulty at a nice pace, but still remains fun.

spongebob surfing

But there are a couple things that put hiccups that keep the fun going. I’ve come across several spots where I got stuck in foliage and the floor. Sometimes, when I respawn from falling, the game puts me right over the fall again, or it puts me back to a platform that moved away. Or it puts me next to an enemy that gives me no time to avoid. The pirate world especially is where I had a lot of problems. Earnestly, later levels did not give me a problem, and I almost forgot I had issues with the early game. But a patch is definitely in order for some things. The in-engine cutscenes felt way too snappy, and skipped or repeated dialogue. The camera seems to act on its own sometimes, but that didn’t really bother me.

But I will say it was super to have everyone reprising their roles of all the characters we’ve come to know and love, even Clancy Brown made it this time around! Not only that, but old man Jenkins, the “my leg” dude, the nurse from Shady Shoals, Karen, and Mrs. Puff were all here. Even chocolate dude! 

spongebob riding a seahorse

That’s what annoyed me at first, but then changed to admiration later on, was just how much ode to the show this game had in it. We’re talking deep cuts and nostalgia all the way back to episode one with having a reef blower to play with. Players are treated to classic lines that everyone quoted at nine years old. “This is… advanced darkness!” 

The jelly and dubloons collected give access to more costumes used for dressing up. There’s clothes like the Speedster, or the blanket sheet from the first Halloween episode, the uniform from the Kuddly Krab, the Goofy Goober hat, the Robo-Sponge from BFBB, and even the elf getup from that one-second clip of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Mr. Krabs playing Dungeons & Dragons. Deeep cut!

a costume page, spongebob wearing a ghost costume

In case that wasn’t enough, some of the clothes aren’t just for show; but come with their own sound effects. The peg-leg on the pirate outfit clinks when you run on it, and makes a dot in the sand. And that’s what I meant when I feel like this game just celebrates SpongeBob. The story is nothing spectacular, but the rehashed jokes, the gameplay, and the care to the substance makes the game feel made by fans of the cartoon, for the fans of the cartoon.

spongebob standing in front of two seabears
That was an oval, it has to be a circle!

Review copy was generously provided.

The Bottom Line

 

People picking this game up because it's SpongeBob will get a good dose of it, and a pretty fun gaming time too.

 

8

Johnathan Floyd

Writer, Editor, President, and overall complete goofball.

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