Spongebob Squarepants and the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom have been popular enough to be on TV for well over a decade, and with that came the inevitable game adaptations. While the most memorable of them have been well received platformers, the latest title is a co-op adventure for up to four players. It is rather sad then, that even though it attempts to instil the whimsical charm of the show, it neither invokes the appeal of the characters nor is it even a fun game to play even for the youngest of gamers.
Like many episodes of the show, it begins with Plankton hatching a plan to steal the Krabby Patty formula After a shipping accident drops machine parts across Bikini Bottom, Plankton and his family create an army of evil robots to steal three keys that will open the safe with the recipe inside. It is a bare-bones reason, but a serviceable one to get Spongebob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward and Mr Krabbs to go on an adventure.
The entirety of the plot is told across two animated cut-scenes, one at the start and one at the end of the game. Both are animated in a way that makes them appear like bad claymation, made worse by a lack of life put into the voices for the characters. All the characters either sound like they don’t give a damn or like different voice actors from the show, despite it having the same cast. It fails to feel like Spongebob Squarepants, but more of a poor façade pretending to be the beloved cartoon.
Remember That Episode Where Sandy Went On A Killing Spree? Me Neither
Moment to moment gameplay follows an extremely repetitious pattern. You travel from point A to point B in boring levels, defeating boring enemies in the same boring patterns ending with a boring boss fight. None of these elements show any amount of imagination and have been done better elsewhere, creating a monotonous experience that neither challenges nor excites.
Levels are copy and pasted, endlessly reusing the same geometry. One area will spill into another that looks exactly the same as the last. A hallway will open up into an arena that opens to another hallway and arena ad infinitum. The only marker of any progress is the different colour palettes as you switch from one of the three level sets, going from spooky, to dark, to bright. Background details are murky, looking like something from the PS2.
The majority of the two hour story is spent fighting the same five enemy types. Every encounter from the first level to the last battle starts when you enter the cloned arenas, where you fight the same combinations of two turrets and three types of enemies that charge at you at varying speeds. All but one can be destroyed through guns (yes, Spongebob has guns), and the last by performing a stomp attack. Every fight can be won by running in circles and holding the fire button where the only challenge is moving out of targeting reticules. This is compounded by a fixed camera angle that will usually leave you at its mercy as you are attacked from off-screen. Even the boss fights are recycled, using the same giant robot fight four times with only slight variation.
Second Verse, Same As The First. And The One Before That, And The One Before That.
Weapons, dubbed as Gizmo’s, are unlocked and upgraded with collectable sprockets that erupt from destructible barrels and defeated enemies. You start with a basic pistol style gun, but from there you are free to unlock any of the guns with your sprockets. Machine guns, shotguns., grenade launchers and lasers all appear under different names such as a pie launcher that acts as a mortar style weapon which can later be upgraded to launch a triplet of highly damaging projectiles. Sadly it is too easy to find one and stick with it as all weapons reach the same level of power after being upgraded. This renders collecting sprockets useless as the only point to unlocking other guns is the achievement for having the full arsenal.
All three characters control the same with no differing features apart from five charmless lines and a special attack. Powered by batteries which enemies drop, these abilities are mostly useless. Physical attacks in general are also a worthless addition past the first level. After that point guns are the only worthwhile to deal damage as you crush wave after wave of robots making the combat tedious. What makes this more annoying are the ever repeating lines which are spouted every couple of seconds. These quickly go from grating to white noise as you become bored and reach a catatonic state after half an hour of gameplay. Barely reaching over a two hour playtime, it is hopelessly padded and frustratingly barren of fun.
Spongebob Squarepants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge is not a good game, it is terribly boring, utterly charmless and devoid of any real saving grace. While it all works perfectly well without any technical hiccups, it is an experience where every facet of gameplay is done better elsewhere and shouldn’t be bought for any child even if they are the most die-hard of Spongebob fans. It feels like a cashing in of the series, which was fine in the past as some of Spongebob Squarepants titles were good games. This is not the case, and making something aimed at children is not an excuse for it to be made badly and derivative. Even at the budget price, the game asks for too much to give so little in return.