If you’re a fan of the zany adventures of SpongeBob and co., you’re probably going to get a kick out of his latest video game adventure.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is the first brand new console game starring the yellow sponge in eight years. Sure, we had Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated in 2020, but that was a remaster of a game from 2003. This new adventure throws SpongeBob’s world into disarray, with the residents of Bikini Bottom being thrown into different realms. It’s up to SpongeBob – with the help of Patrick, who is now inexplicably a balloon animal – to travel to those realms and bring everyone back. A piece of cake, right?
The Cosmic Shake is 3D platforming 101: there’s nothing here to break the mould or change up the tried-and-tested formula. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. Packed with typical Nicktoons-level humour, an array of colourful worlds to explore and a mixture of challenges on offer, this is an all-out fun game that should appeal to just about every age group.
There’s plenty of standard platforming to be done, of course, seeing SpongeBob jump over obstacles, kicking enemies into oblivion and picking up collectibles. Along the way, you’ll gain new abilities, allowing SpongeBob to glide, perform a flying kick, fire bubbles, ride seahorses, rope swing and more. The abilities help make combat a little more fluid: kicking an enemy or trapping one in a bubble is more entertaining than simply pummelling them. But SpongeBob’s abilities come into their own when it comes to traversal. You’re given plenty of opportunity to fly through the air on a series of ropes, gliding through rings to gain extra power, and powering yourself up with well-timed flying kicks. Get it all right, and it feels tremendous.
Thanks to featuring the original voice cast, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is going to be most appealing to long-running fans of the cartoon. Indeed, the writing and character dialogue feels very typical of the show, packed with silly humour that most of us won’t be able to resist at least raising a smile to. The banter between SpongeBob and Patrick throughout the adventure is relentless but delightful, with big ‘buddy movie’ energy. Even if you’re not a huge SpongeBob fan, it’s hard not to enjoy.
Related: The Best Platformer Games on PS5
You shouldn’t write off the gameplay, either, if you didn’t grow up with SpongeBob permanently on the TV. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake does a great job of capturing the magic of classic 3D platformers. Sure, you might curse under your breath when you mess up a jump for the umpteenth time in a row, but that’s the nature of the genre. The colourful worlds, the range of abilities available to you, the cast of characters waiting to be met, and the random minigames shoehorned in make this a game all about high-energy fun.
There are a few disappointments, though. There’s no PS5 or Xbox Series X version, which means while it plays perfectly on latest-gen hardware, it’s not the most impressive game to look at. It’s a bit dated in design, although the bright, colourful levels go some way to counter that. It’s also a shame that, despite there being a huge array of additional costumes available for SpongeBob, you’re going to have to work to unlock them. Some are tied to additional content, but the rest have to be unlocked by finding coins hidden in each level. You’ll have to replay levels if you want to find most of them. And while it provides a reason to keep playing, it can get a bit tiresome. After all, the levels are huge, and hunting down the coins means being very thorough.
Still, there’s a lot to love in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake, whether you’re a hardcore SpongeBob fan or a sucker for a good old-fashioned 3D platformer. The colourful worlds and silly humour will appeal to kids, sure, but it also calls out to the inner child in all of us. It’s the sort of game you can simply switch off with: forget about the rest of the world, and get lost in a zany world of rainbows, pineapple houses and balloon starfish for a while. What more could you want, really?