Licensed games usually get a bad rap for a reason, they’re rushed to market, are full of generic ideas and gameplay elements and rarely ever end up being worth the $8 value ticket to whatever movie they’re promoting. But back on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube came an unlikely entry into the pantheon of great 6th gen platforms: Spongebob Squarepants Battle for Bikini Bottom. Unlike many of the other examples of licensed games, especially from that era, BfBB had a masterful grasp on what Spongebob was and how to translate that to a fun game that could be enjoyed by all ages, much like the cartoon at the time, which you’ll remember, was explosively popular.
When you get right down into the bones of it you find a pretty standard platformer, and if you’re argument against it was that the actual gameplay was a mostly generic collect-athon, well then I couldn’t really argue against that. What I could argue, even champion, for is that this game nails the tone and world of Spongebob so thoroughly that you’re liable to forget you’re even playing a video game. The game goes to great lengths to recreate near every iconic area from the show at the time, Jellyfish Fields, Goo Lagoon, Rock Bottom and even Spongebobs street(with full interiors of the three houses) are all here. While the design of the levels may not be spectacular in a technical sense, playing this as a kid, it can’t be overstated just much it really felt like being in the world of the cartoon.
They’re primitive now, but I should point out the game used a long draw distance and low detail far off models to really sell you on this being one place.
The characters lines felt show quality(except weirdly Mr. Krabs, Clancy Brown being the only show actor not to record for the game), the world was a joy to explore and experience in an interactive medium and the visual designs of the levels were almost ridiculously thorough and accurate to the show. King Jellyfish lives right at the top of the mountain where you remember him. You never could quite catch that bus out of Rock Bottom and Sand Mountain was as ridiculously extreme as that living sandman yelled at all of us.
If you’re a fan of the show I can’t recommend the game enough, it’s held up well to this day and it’s an excellent time capsule of the show in it’s prime, aside from just being a great time for all regardless of when they got into the fandom.
Admit it, you can all hear the music in your head looking at this picture