REVIEW: Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated

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When a developer is given the opportunity to remaster a beloved video game, there are two outcomes that can happen. They either aim straight for the fan’s hearts or their wallets, and unfortunately the wallet is the most popular target.

Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated (yeesh what a mouthful) is a remaster that is aimed directly towards the hearts of the original’s fans, which is why it hurts so badly to say that once you remove your nostalgia-tinted glasses, you start to notice the mistakes that make this game goes belly up.

There are boatloads of Mr. Krabs-like developers that clearly show their only goal is to make a quick buck off the adoration of the fans, but recently there has been a rise in the standards of these kinds of games.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and Ratchet and Clank (2016) are all fairly recent remasters that show a strong love to their source material while correcting the mistakes that the originals had.

When playing through those games, I found myself saying “Man, I’m glad they fixed this problem” constantly, where-as in Spongebob I couldn’t tell if the game was mechanically better or worse than the original.

Now, I will admit that I have never played the original Battle for Bikini Bottom before, so unlike Spyro I am unable to do a direct comparison. But that really shouldn’t matter; A remaster shouldn’t bank on its buyers strictly being players of the original – It should be appealing to newcomers as well as veterans.

I don’t think that Battle for Bikini Bottom is guilty of only being appealing to its veteran players, but as a newcomer the technical problems make me think that there is almost no improvement over the original’s functionality.

This is a real shame because there are many ideas and design choices that I absolutely adore in this game; It is in every way an improvement over the original.

The characters and environments are way more detailed and stylized than before: you can see the details in the fabric of clothing, the landscapes are much more colorful to the tone of each level, even stuff just as simple as water now has cartoony lines in them that makes the movement seem much cleaner.

Pretty much every photo within the game has been changed with images of memes and gags from the show, serving as an added delight to Spongebob fans.

The characters are more expressive, and their bodies have rubber-like effects making them feel like they are actually cartoon characters rather than stiff, 3-D models.

These are all wonderful design choices, but they all become shadowed by the overwhelming abundance of technical errors that occur in every part of the game.

One thing that really stuck out to me is before you enter a level, you can actually see the it in the background of the overworld (Downtown Bikini Bottom, Sandy Mountain, Kelp Forest, you can see all of these areas in the map).

This is a great idea until you realize that all of the levels now seem like they are squashed together in the hub-world.

They are so disproportionate from each other that it makes the land feel cluttered and cramped rather than vast and open – good idea, bad execution.

This is the theme of this entire game, ideas that seem good on paper but just don’t work in the actual game play.

I mentioned before how the characters are more expressive with their dialogue and facial features. This is a good choice that becomes sloppy due to the fact that the models started to move very fast when changing facial expressions, making them lose their cartoony appeal and seem much more robotic.

I like how the environments are much more detailed, but there seems to be so much detail that there are now more graphical errors than the original game, especially in the water effects – almost any time that I looked at the water, it would begin flashing and bugging out, similar to a TV with bad reception.

That’s a big thing with this game too, BUGS.

There. Are. A. Lot. Of. Bugs.

Spongebob getting hurt by nothing, animations just not finishing or even playing out, getting stuck on objects that forced me to reset the level, characters standing completely still when they should be talking, being able to skip portions of a level through glitches, portions of a level just not working, bugs, bugs bugs galore!

In one of the later levels, I got hit by an enemy and then for some reason couldn’t move at all! Spongebob wasn’t frozen or anything, I actually could not move unless I found a way to kill my character.

You can even perform a fairly easy glitch at the start of the game that brings you to the final boss – sometimes I’m not even sure if this game was beta tested, it’s just so broken.

Even if you look past these game-breaking errors, Battle for Bikini Bottom is just a bland video game in general and if it weren’t for the fact that it is a Spongebob title, it would be such a generic, uninspired platformer.

The level locations are interesting, but there is very little to do in them that can keep you entertained for long. Majority of the side missions are just “Spongebob, bring me six of these things” and there are no discernible differences between each mission.

Even the missions I enjoyed weren’t actually that entertaining for the most part, I just liked the fact that they were different and offered variety to the levels.

The music is…meh. I like the instrumentation that is chosen for each area, but the songs themselves don’t pop out to me at all. I can think back to several songs in Spyro the Dragon that never leave my mind – they are well designed and really set the theme in each area – I can barely remember any more than three songs that I heard in Battle for Bikini Bottom.

Bland, the game itself is just so bland and repetitive.

Boy, with all of this negativity that I have, it sure sounds like I despise this game right? I definitely regret buying Battle for Bikini Bottom right?

Wrong!

Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated may not be a structurally sound video game but it has something that many developers are losing in their projects, love in what they are doing.

Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot; these are games that have nostalgic attachment to me, and when I played the remasters I could feel the dedication and heart from the developers to the players who had a bond with those games.

I have never played the original Battle for Bikini Bottom, but even when I was getting angered and frustrated at the errors, I could still feel the same amount of heart that I felt in the Spyro remastered, and that’s important to me.

This game may not have been the best one that I have played, but I view it more as a “thank you” letter to the fans who were excited to play a game with their favorite yellow sponge, and that brings value to this game as a Spongebob fan myself.

Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is not a game that I would love to replay through again due to many bugs and questionable mechanical choices but if you are a fan of Spongebob Squarepants, then it is a memorable and sweet game that you should at least experience.

Rating: 2.5/5 (give it a try)