I’m in my mid twenties and I’m not afraid to say that I love SpongeBob but not in that ironic big-face t-shirt wearing way. I remember the late spring of 1999 around the time when everyone began to panic about the Millennium Bug, an eleven-year-old Aaron sat in front of the television as he usually would on a Saturday only to experience one of the most bizarre, but amazing TV shows of all time, SpongeBob SquarePants.
SpongeBob, Garry, Patrick and the gang became a staple part of my Saturday mornings as I stuffed my face with chocolate cereal, I couldn’t get enough of Bikini Bottom, I wanted to taste a Crabby Patty, and I wanted to go Jelly Fishing but alas, I had to grow up. That hasn’t stopped me from occasionally flicking over to Nickelodeon whenever the Yellow Sponge is on.
So when Activision announced the release of SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge I just had to give it a go. I know it’s primarily aimed at a younger audience and I’m going to look at it that way. This isn’t no blockbuster, AAA title like Call of Duty, or Battefield, but for what this game is, it’s a stand up example.
I first laid eyes on SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge I was a little concerned that the games 3D character models and animations would stand true to the classic SpongeBob 2D animation, but it actually works and doesn’t look one bit out of place. Sure the cut scenes are a little stiff, but we’re not here to watch SpongeBob this time, we’re here to play it.
The game is a fairly simple 3D platformer where you play as one of a variety of the zany cast members as you attempt to rescue the Crabby Patty formula from Plankton who managed to apprehend some real-world batteries which he’s used to create an army of robots. The game’s simplistic nature allows any gamer of any skill level to just jump in and play, and the game itself allows you to do just that..
SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge is a typical fun for all the family title, at any point during the game the player can invite friends and family along to play with them. In typical arcade fashion, a second, third, or fourth player can come in at any time by pressing the “Start button” from there they choose their character whether it be Sandy, Patrick, Squidward, or Mr. Krabs.
This is where the game becomes a little different. Co-operation is the key here with the game adding extra buttons that can be pressed by both players, and the need for both players to aim at the same battery pack in order to destroy it and unlock the gate. SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge does a fantastic job at requiring team work instead of just throwing another player into the same-old-game.
The control system is fairly simple offering the chance to either use melee attacks or use an arsenal of food-themed weaponry to combat certain types of Plankton’s creations and this is where the game becomes a little more in depth. Throughout the game, when you’ve destroyed a robot you’ll receive a collection of scrap metal such as sprockets and springs, these are then used to upgrade or purchase new weaponry which can be unlocked at any point during your progress. This gives the game a more core gaming experience than just your standard 3D platformer.
The gameplay itself does become a little repetitive and levels can soon become a little tedious to play. Each level follows the same type of progression just with a different landscape and at the end of each level you’re faced with a boss which rarely changes up it’s attacks and soon become fairly predictable. Once a boss has been defeated you then follow the came circle of gameplay except this time there’s a new enemy to add to the mix.
Occasionally you’re thrown into some sort of whirlpool which requires you to move out of the way of debris in order to collect sprockets, this can provide a refreshing break from the same type of level progression, but they only really appear once every so often.
That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun. It really is. And as I mentioned before, this game is aimed at a younger audience and with that in mind I can see this being a really entertaining game which at times could be fairly difficult especially when you’re surrounded by ten or so robots, four targeting turrets, and two to three of these weird spinning top things which require you to slam down on top of them.
Each of these more difficult stages of each level will always be backed up by a chest that contains some Kelp-O cereal in order for you to replenish a bit of health, and if things get too much you can just tap “Y” and have a few seconds of invincibility, providing you’ve been picking up batteries that some robots drop along the way.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge reminds me a lot of the classic platforming titles I used to play way back on the SEGA Megadrive as well as the PlayStation. Games like ToeJam & Earl are a good example. Though the game itself is very simple it offers a familiar gaming experience to veteran and rookie gamers both young and old and despite the fairly linear and tedious gameplay, with friends this game is actually a pretty decent time waster.
The game stays true to the SpongeBob IP and it feels very much like you’re in the world of Bikini Bottom and Rock Bottom. The soundtrack is a personal favourite of mine with certain levels offering a smooth Jazz-style anthem, with other parts of the game taking the typical Hawaiian themed slide-guitar and Ukulele approach we’re all used to in SpongeBob SquarePants, the only real annoyance I had with the sound was SpongeBob constantly repeating the same few phrases after he destroyed a robot or two – “Ooo, just like popping bubbles” soon get’s etched into your brain and you’d start hearing it in your dreams.
Minor annoyances aside, for a 3D platforming game that’s aimed at a younger audience, SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton’s Robotic Revenge does a brilliant job. It’s entertaining, true to the IP, and has a fairly small difficulty curve which allows you to enjoy the gameplay without getting stuck too often, the need for co-operative play is also a fantastic touch too.
If you’re a closet SpongeBob SquarePants fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this title.