Every so often a game gets a spiritual successor, that has no actual story tie to its predecessor but is made in the spirit of it. I have never seen a greater example of this than with Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake. If you have never played Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, you may want to close this page and start playing right now. This game is a nostalgia fest, and you can feel the influence everywhere.
Published by: THQ Nordic
Developed by: Purple Lamp
Reviewed on: PS4 (Played on a PS5)
Release Date: Janurary 30th, 2023
Through the Portal
I must confess, Battle for Bikini Bottom was the first game I played on my Playstation 2 when I was little. From the second I opened The Cosmic Shake, I felt like I was right back in 2003. The game focuses on an altered reality of Bikini Bottom, one that is barely recognizable. An incident happens early on that I won’t spoil, but suffice to say the world is pretty messed up. The main gameplay revolves around 3D platforming, and you will visit different altered worlds that are apart of Bikini Bottom. Each of these worlds has a distinct identity, and none of them feel like a waste of space. My personal favorite was one that was staged like a Hollywood action movie, but all of them are memorable.
The Magic Bubble Wand
At the start of the game, it does feel a little like Cosmic Shake’s gameplay might get dry after awhile. Fortunately, as you go through each world, you unlock new abilities that really add variety to the gameplay. One, in particular, seems as if it would be a combat move, but Cosmic Shake does a phenomenal job of including in its platforming, making for some genuinely enjoyable platforming sections. The Cosmic Shake is a 3D platformer made for the modern era. In fact, it is one that should serve as a model for the genre. The movement can feel a little studdery at times, but plays extremely smoothly.
The story of The Cosmic Shake feels like quality, classic Spongebob content. If you enjoy the humor from the show, you will enjoy the game. If you don’t, I have some questions about how you found this review and why you read this far down, but know that you may not enjoy it as much. From the outset, the “real villain” is painfully clear, and everyone on the planet knows it besides your main character. It is a surprisingly complex narrative device for a Sponegbob game, and it works extremely well. The Cosmic Shake uses all of the original voice actors from the show, so that will please longtime fans of the franchise.
The Cosmic Shake game looks and runs like a modern PS4 game. My only complaint was that load times are sometimes painfully long (even when running on a PS5), but the world looks really good. The sound effects and voices are clear, crisp, and truly add value to the game. Finally, the soundtrack only seeks to add character to the worlds, and given the wide variance in the different realites, the amount of music you will come across is actually suprising.
the Cosmic Shake: a sequel I never knew a wanted, but now a trilogy awaits
There is no reason anyone would have to play Battle for Bikni Bottom, before playing The Cosmic Shake, but you would be missing something intangible by not. There is very little story tie-in, but everything from golden spatulas and underpants, to mayo-shooting goons return. Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake had large shoes to fill, ones that I am not sure anyone was clamoring to have filled in fact. In this case, it rises to the occasion, and will be sure to put a smile on anyones face who chooses to buy it. The Cosmic Shake is not a perfect game, nor is it going to serve as a milestone in gaming advancement, but it will provide a great time for anyone who loves Spongebob and his nonsense. A spiritual third game to round out the trilogy seems like the logical next step from here.